Following months of negotiations, the Ellis County Commission on Monday approved bargaining agreements with its four employee labor unions. While the terms of each contract vary, all employees will receive at least a 1-percent raise in 2018. The commission also approved a 1-percent pay increase for non-represented county employees.

The total estimated cost of raises for the union employees is $243,620; the county commission also approved an amendment to the 2018 budget allocating those funds.

Ellis County negotiates with four labor unions for service employees, sheriff’s department, public works and EMS. Wages and provisions for paid time off were the contract items open for negotiations. Changes were made specifically to address the accumulation of and payment for extended leave upon termination of employment.

Commissioners on Monday expressed appreciation for County Counselor Bill Jeter, County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes and an employee health insurance committee for their assistance through the negotiations.

“I think it was a very good effort to get us through the ups and downs,” said Commissioner Dean Haselhorst, who represented the county commission through negotiations.

Non-union employees will receive a flat 1-percent raise effective in September. A total of four employees will receive pay increases of a different amount in order to keep pace with union employees in the same departments.

The cost of pay increases for non-union employees will be $101,101.

In other personnel matters at Monday’s meeting, the commission entered a three-year contract with Smith-Hanes, who was hired in 2016 as county administrator. The contract also calls for a step increase in pay levels for each of the three consecutive years.

Effective March 1, 2018, the monthly salary will be approximately $8,816 for the first year, totaling approximately $105,000. The final payment amounts, however, could change if general pay adjustments are approved by the county commission. He will not be eligible for longevity pay, according to the contract.

Commissioners and county employees spoke up at Monday’s meeting to thank Smith-Hanes for his work.

“He’s done a good job. Since the day he came, he hit the ground running,” Haselhorst said. “And he’s found a lot of cost-saving measures. … In talking to the department heads, they are all very glad to work with him.”