Southampton opposes raises for garbage authority employees

Published 11:03 am Friday, March 2, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to oppose 3-percent pay raises proposed for employees with the region’s garbage authority.

County Administrator Mike Johnson, who is one of two Southampton representatives on the 16-member board for the Southeastern Public Service Authority, said he would oppose the raises for employees. SPSA handles waste management for Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, and other Hampton Roads localities.

The other, Roy Chesson, said he is inclined to favor the raises.

“It doesn’t seem right to me that these people who are working hard at their jobs to be punished because cities and counties may not be able to give pay raises,” said Chesson, a former Zuni resident who was appointed to the board by the governor. Chesson has since moved to Smithfield and is in charge of recycling for the City of Newport News.

Franklin District Southampton County Supervisor Barry Porter during Monday’s supervisors’ meeting suggested going on record opposing the raises, which were included in SPSA’s proposed $44.65 million 2013 budget.

“We more than likely will not ask our employees to take raises,” Porter said. “I can’t support another organization giving raises.”

Boykins District Supervisor Carl Faison initially disagreed.

“They (SPSA employees) are not governed by us,” Faison said. “I don’t want to set a precedent of getting involved in others’ business.”

“It is our business,” Porter responded.

Berlin-Ivor District Supervisor Ron West also had concerns.

“The workers have not caused the (authority’s financial) problems,” West said. “I do have a problem putting a burden on the rank-and-file people.”

Three years ago, SPSA faced a $250 million debt. The debt is down to about $36 million.

SPSA’s proposed budget would be 9 percent less than the current fiscal year’s spending plan. Board members will discuss the budget and raises in March.

During the meeting, Chesson expects that Johnson will bring up Southampton’s opposition to the raises.

“So that will bring it up for discussion,” Chesson said.