HANCOCK COUNTY – County departments and employees may see an increase in their department budgets and a raise for department heads after the Hancock County Council presented the increase during their meetings Wednesday morning and May 1.

Jane Klemme and Lisa Lofgreen were two of the members on the salary committee to conduct a study on salaries in Hancock County and surrounding areas, and after completing the study, Klemme said at the May 1 meeting the recommendation would be to have all county departments provide a 3.5% increase in the personal services sections of budgets to be dispersed among employees determined by an elected official or department head.

Klemme also mentioned that they were in agreement with the previous recommendation of a $1,750 increase to salaries of elected officials and heads of departments in 2025.

“The salary community has worked really hard on this for the last several months,” said county council president Jeannine Gray as they also presented the budget form and process of application for budgets in 2025.

Going through a breakdown of each department, county council Mary Noe listed the amounts for salaries and if any department would also be receiving additional employees.

Community corrections having a recently hired director, the salary for 2025 is set to be at $85,000.

For the health department’s request, Klemme said that the committee made a recommendation to increase elected officials or department heads salary to $68,379 for 2024, and then recommended an additional two environmental specialists at $62,000 for 2024 — a total of four new positions per the department’s request.

In the maintenance department, the committee recommended an increase of $5,500, bringing the annual salary to $65,000, plus the $1,750 increase to department head for 2025. Noe also said they have recommended hiring an additional employee for the maintenance department.

Community Corrections, having a recently hired a new director, will have its salary set at $85,000.

With prosecutor’s recommendations, the county council approved funding for two new positions — one deputy prosecutor at $80,000 and a paralegal at $45,000.

The sheriff’s department will also look at adding an additional staff member as well — a new jail navigator. The salary for the new position will be close to the other jail navigators pay, depending on their education experience.

Gray also said that they will add a new department to human resources and that Judge D.J. Davis asked for the Behavioral Court to have its own budget this coming year to help provide simplicity.

With budget requests from each department with the proposed recommendations from the salary committee and county council due by June 3, the county council will then hold department hearings to go over the 2025 budget requests on July 11.