The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday February 4th

Town Talk

Orange County commissioners discuss goals for county employees

The Orange County Board Commissioners reviewed and discussed the county’s aims in capital development and its human resources goals for county employees at a Tuesday meeting. 

Bonnie Hammersley, county manager, opened the meeting by detailing the county’s prospective capital investment plan that establishes budget projections related to capital needs of the county. 

Approval of the plan commits the county to first year funding while all other yearly plans are used as tools to guide the county’s future financial decisions, Hammersley said.

Brenda Bartholomew, Orange County human resource director, presented information about 2016-2017 county employee benefits and salaries. 

Bartholomew said the county pays 100 percent of individual premiums and roughly 65 percent of family premiums — on average in North Carolina, employers cover 82 percent of individual premiums and 53 percent of family premiums.

The board was less enthusiastic about the progress of resolving the issue of pay compression among Orange County employees. 

Compression in the workplace is caused when newly hired employees are brought in at equal or better salaries than employees with more years at the same position. 

“This did not happen overnight, but it is,” Bartholomew said.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs said the county should be recruiting well-seasoned local government employees and paying them accordingly to remain competitive. 

“Orange County does not need to become a training ground,” Jacobs said.

Commissioner Earl McKee said he has faith that the human resource department will be able to resolve the issue in due time so Orange County does not lose out on job recruiting prospects, as well as veteran employees.

Bartholomew’s presentation also prompted a discussion about diversifying the Orange County government staff, particularly seeking out Hispanic or Latino influence, as well as Asian. 

The board discussed wanting to incentivize being bilingual in terms of salary and also provide better resources so that employees can learn the Spanish language. 


Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier thanked the Department of Human Resources, Department of Health and UNC Health Care for collaborating on providing Orange County government employees with free mammograms earlier this year, emphasizing the importance of women’s health care coverage as a employee benefit.


“It may say that this person has a Ph.D. in solid waste collection or whatever you call it,” said Jacobs in reference to recruiting experienced employees to fill positions.

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