Commission sets $10.25 minimum wage for County employees after controversial raise; Rock the South parking and traffic plan unveiled

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Darrell Skipper of Skipper Consulting talks about proposed parking areas around the new Rock the South location at Tuesday’s Cullman County Commission meeting. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In the wake of Monday’s controversial revelation that Cullman County Engineer John Lang was in February given a $17,000 raise on top of last fall’s annual merit raise, bringing his salary to $123,825.74, the Cullman County Commission on Tuesday moved to bolster the bottom end of its pay scale by establishing a minimum hourly wage of $10.25 for County employees.  Under the current pay scale, new hires can make as little as $7.92 per hour. Under the new plan, which will go into effect in the next pay cycle beginning March 16, minimum pay for all Grade C-1 employees through Step 9, all Grade C-2 employees through Step 5, and all Step 1 C-3 employees will be raised to $10.25 per hour.

Commissioner Garry Marchman addressed both Lang’s raise–which he opposed–and the new minimum wage, telling The Tribune, “I was against the increase of the salary of the engineer, one of the reasons being is because I believe it’s a very competitive pay.  It was at $106,000 (after the 2018 merit increase); I think that was a fair salary for what he did, even above fair. John’s a good guy, smart guy, does a lot for the county, but when we start looking at pay increases, I try to take into consideration the amount of money that our lower paid pay scales are making.

“And, you know, you look at that. We just increased our minimum wage to $10.25.  Well, you know, our fast food places out here pay almost $10 or around $10 an hour to start out with, and we as a county, if we want to look at retention and recruiting employees, then we’ve got to start looking at how we base our salaries, and the lower paid people in the county’s something that really needs to be addressed.  And when Mr. Lang came in and asked for a pay raise, I was against it; and the other two (Chairman Kenneth Walker and Commissioner Kerry Watson), basically just to sum it up, voted for it. And I don’t think it was a fair increase.”

Rock the South parking and traffic flow

Darrell Skipper of Skipper Consulting updated the commission on its parking and traffic flow study for Rock the South.  He showed maps of five proposed parking areas around the site capable of holding up to 7,642 vehicles, with an additional parking area just west of the event venue for RVs and campers.  

Visitors in most of the parking areas will be able to access the venue via pedestrian trails set up for the event, preventing them from having to walk along the somewhat narrow roads leading to the venue.  One parking area will be located east of Interstate 65, requiring pedestrian traffic to move west along Swafford Road to reach the venue; according to Skipper, that portion of the road from Logan Avenue to County Road 469 will be closed to all vehicles except emergency responders, and the parking area will only be accessible by car from the east side.

Skipper also showed charts of a study of traffic flow around the site, and proposed a plan for police and lighting locations, temporary road closures at particular times, and temporary conversion of certain routes to one-way flow during high traffic times of the event.  The plan also included a combination of signage and barricades intended to keep event traffic out of the area immediately around the Deer Trace subdivision.

Skipper concluded by noting that road conditions will be surveyed both before and after the event to determine the effect of the event on the roads.

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