It appears Cullman County’s 469 employees will have to wait a little longer before they get to see the long-awaited new pay scale.

Changes to the county employee’s handbook were on the agenda for Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, but they were tabled when associate commissioner Stanley Yarbrough declined to second a motion to pass them.

According to associate commissioner Doug Williams, the commission cannot release the new pay scale or officially adopt it until after the changes are passed.

After the meeting, Yarbrough said he declined to second the motion because Tuesday’s meeting was the first time he had actually heard the changes explained in detail. He said he wanted more time to consult some of the county’s department heads and to study the matter before making a decision.

“When we make a decision like this, we have to make sure it’s in our best interest and [the employees] best interest too,” he said.

While Chairman Wiley Kitchens could have overruled Yarbrough and seconded the vote himself, effectively passing it for the three-member commission, he did not.

The motion was tabled and a meeting set to discuss the matter with the department heads later in the week.

Williams said he was disappointed the changes did not pass, but it was only a minor setback.

“It was a real surprise to me that he wanted to study it more,” he said, “but then again, he’s a commissioner, and it’s his pleasure to do so.”

Several department heads attended the meeting with questions about the handbook changes. Revenue commissioner Kay Smith requested county attorney Dan Willingham read and explain each of the eight changes to the handbook, which he did.

In general, the changes are in preparation for the adoption of the new payscale. According to Willingham, most are merely for clarification.

They deal with the definition of and how to handle promotions, demotions and transfers. One specifically states that department heads cannot fill any vacant position without the commission’s consent.

After the meeting, Smith said she was happy the changes were explained and she thought the commission did the right thing by calling the special meeting.

“Every employee has a right to know, because it’s their handbook, and they have to live with it,” she said.

However, she also said she was still upset that none of the department heads have seen the new payscale yet.

According to Williams, that will be released at the department head meeting later in the week.

The new pay scale is expected to do away with the old merit-based system in favor of annual, cost-of-living raises.

Two cost-of-living raises have already been approved by the commission since it voted to remove the old system approximately 18 months ago.

According to Williams, the old payscale led to out-of-control promotions and raises for some and too few or no raises for others.

“The new pay system is a good thing,” he said. “It fixes an old, outdated system. It fixes an unfair system.”

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