Partial data used to compare Bertie DSS salaries – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

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For the publisher:

Despite your very encouraging headline, “Bertie DSS Employees Do More” (News Herald, September 3), we at the Bertie County Social Services Department have a problem. We have lost 20% of our trained and appreciated employees in the past four years.

Replacing these professionals requires recruitment, training and certification, a process that can take up to three years. In the meantime, the remaining employees must take over.

We are proud of the fact that our Bertie County Commissioners are committed to doing their best to improve all aspects of the lives of the people of Bertie. However, it seems to us that several aspects of the work carried out and the wages paid to our workers were not faithfully reflected in the deliberations of the Commissioners.

Commissioners were using partial data to compare our DSS professionals to other counties, not to other county employees. The DSS has the largest number of full-time employees of any county in the county; currently has an all-female staff and director; and works the same 37.5 hours per week as all employees in Bertie County. Of course, they are responding to DSS family crises, anywhere, anytime in our very large county.

We are fortunate that SSD professionals now reflect the ethnic makeup of Bertie County, a balance we appreciate.

DSS staff play a vital role in making Bertie financially rich. While most of the services provided by the county use taxes and fees to pay salaries and other costs, DSS generates revenue. DSS operates 40 different programs – like Medicaid and Food Stamps – which bring in over $ 40 million annually from state and federal agencies. And 70% of DSS salaries are paid by these governments, not by Bertie.

This vital financial contribution is maintained by the 48 staff of the DSS under the constant control of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Weekly reports on each claim or change in benefits must be submitted to the State. If these records are not perfect, our customer services are at risk.

This rigid assessment by state authorities puts unique pressure on our employees. We want to keep them, especially once they are trained, certified and effective. Over the past four years, nine of these promising employees have held DSS positions elsewhere. We want to keep them here!

We do not reward years of good, efficient service. Bertie County eliminated both merit increases and “salary progression”. Anything that is not the increase in the cost of living must be specifically approved for each individual. In recent years, every such request for DSS employees has been denied.

Based on the inequalities of the past, great employees with decades of service now earn little more than new colleagues. How can this generate job satisfaction, sustained loyalty or a feeling of being valued?

Our region is losing well-trained teachers, DSS employees, and other professionals to large counties or other states. It seems particularly counterproductive to try to pit workers in one of our regional counties against others when it comes to pay scales.

We need a fair way to reward career development and dedication. We must do this for the retention of our hard-working DSS employees and for the benefit of the citizens of Bertie County.

Alfreida Jordan

President of the council

Bertie County DSS

John L. Hill

Vice Chairman of the Board

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