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Citing looming federal overtime pay alterations, the York County Commissioners approved a 3 percent wage increase for nonunion employees on Wednesday.

Beginning Dec. 1, the annual salary threshold at which companies can deny overtime pay will be doubled from $23,660 to nearly $47,500.

Kristy Bixler, executive director of the county Department of Human Services, said that coming rule is why the cost-of-living raises were recommended to go into effect Oct. 16, as opposed to Jan. 1, which is when these increases are typically imposed.

The department had determined that 216 county employees without bargaining agreements would have been affected by the new rule, Bixler said. Of those, fewer than 20 will remain exempt with the wage increases.

Employees who still qualify for additional overtime benefits are being moved to hourly wages, which provides 26 annual pay cycles as opposed to 24 for salaried employees, according to county administrator Mark Derr.

The 3 percent increase is for all 665 nonunion county employees, according to Bixler. The raises will cost the county an additional $190,000 in wages from Oct. 16 through the end of the year, she said.

Derr said the county will take money out of its contingency fund to pay for the expense, which was not anticipated in the yearly budget.

The county set aside about $800,000 in a contingency fund last year after eliminating about 120 vacant positions, according to Derr.

The fund was set aside in case the county wanted to bring back any of those eliminated positions, Derr said.

Derr estimated the raise would cost the county about $904,000 during 2017. By contrast, raises for county union employees will cost an additional $2.1 million in 2017, Derr said, adding that there are more than twice as many union employees.

The recommendation, which commissioners unanimously approved, came from a recently developed salary compensation committee, Bixler said.

Bixler said the committee noted issues with compensation difference between union and nonunion employees because union employees were seeing larger wage increases.

Derr said it got to a point where some nonunion supervisors were making less than the union employees they were supervising.

The committee also recommended a 2 percent yearly increase to the base salary for vacant nonunion positions.

Bixler said committee members were concerned that the county would not be able to attract qualified candidates without the increase, which had been 0.5 percent in previous years.

The commissioners unanimously approved this request as well.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes said she has seen other counties around the state doing this, and York County has lost some of its best employees as a result.

"Our employees are our most valuable assets," Byrnes said. "We are pleased we can do this for them."

Derr said the move was made in an effort to increase morale for employees who will not have to monitor their hours more closely.

Commissioner Doug Hoke noted that neither raise applies to elected officials because those positions' salaries are set before elections.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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