Mayor Bill Ketron addresses inflation in Rutherford County: 15% increase in pay

Clarification: This story has been updated with information about the number of Rutherford County government jobs.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron responded to inflation this week by proposing a 15% pay hike for government workers

"I have no choice but to recommend 15% increase in pay," Ketron said Monday.

The mayor's proposal follows other local governments — including Murfreesboro and Smyrna — that recently increased worker pay.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron speaks during a Rutherford County Commission Steering, Legislative & Governmental Committee meeting where the topic about possibly establishing a board to oversee the Juvenile Detention Center was addressed on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. Oversight of the Juvenile Detention Center is currently under the authority of Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport.

Ketreon hopes to convince the Rutherford County Commission to approve his pay hike proposal for the next fiscal budget year that starts July 1. The pay boost would help the county retain staff financially stressed by the higher price of gasoline, groceries and housing costs, Ketron said.

The plan only applies to the county government workers. The county started this fiscal year with budget to support a government workforce of 1,626, including 1,380 full-time employees.

"It's all connected," said Ketron, a Republican who's running for reelection, including a May 3 GOP primary.

Meanwhile, the Rutherford County Board of Education will recommend raises for the district's 5,800 workers, which is also tied in with funding from the Tennessee General Assembly, said Ketron, former 16-year Tennessee state senator who won his mayor seat in 2018.

Ketron faces three opponents in the Republican primary: former state Rep. Joe Carr, Rutherford County Commissioner Rhonda Allen and Aaron Coffey.

The GOP winner will compete in Aug. 4 election against three independents: Royce Olen Johnson, Randy Allen and Norman Hanks.

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Mayor Ketron said the 15% boost in pay can be funded without a property tax increase. The county commission previously approved a 5.7% property tax increase in 2019 to fund the mayor's recommended pay increase and replenish budget reserves.

Ketron said he believes the county is in financial position to boost pay and retain a top AAA bond rating for lower interest rates on bonds for projects such as building new schools.

Additional pay raises in Rutherford County

Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland convinced his city council to increase pay by 7% for full-time workers.

"Our employees could use it now because of rising costs costs for everything," McFarland said.

The Smyrna Town Council recently approved an 8% pay hike for employees.

Ketron announced his 15% pay hike proposal as the Rutherford County Commission awaits the results of a study of employee salaries.

Reach reporter Scott Broden with news tips and questions by emailing or calling 615-278-5158. Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.

Public employees in Rutherford County

The following shows total employees approved in current fiscal year budgets:

  • Rutherford County government employees: 1,634 (1,371 full-time)

  • Rutherford County Schools employees: 5,800 (5,176 full-time equivalent)

  • Murfreesboro government employees: 1,480 (1,041 full-time and 439 part-time)

  • Murfreesboro City Schools employees: 1,670

  • Smyrna government employees: 551

  • La Vergne government employees: 256

  • Eagleville government employees: 13

Sources: Local governments and school districts in Rutherford County.

This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Mayor Bill Ketron plans 15% pay hike for Rutherford government workers