He said while the county couldn’t compete with the private sector as far as pay scale goes, there are still steps that could be taken to benefit employees.
“They need to know there’s going to be a pay grade increase for them. There’s an opportunity for them to increase their wages.”
He said he’d work to make sure the “basics” were covered first through balancing and prioritizing the budget.
For instance, he’d decrease the county judge’s travel budget from $10,800 to $4,800 a year and continuing education expenses to $5,000.
Westley said money was spent in excess, and “we need to prioritize where it goes” – such as to county employees, veterans, volunteer fire departments and the county’s century-old courthouse.
Westley said he also wanted to focus on building good infrastructure for the future.
“I believe in the next 30 years, you’re going to see the landscape change even more,” he said, “positions that may not have developed yet…because technology is changing so fast.
“We need to get out to promote what we have. We need to work with the cities around us, without reducing services, without raising taxes.”
In other matters, the candidates discussed expenses, public safety and the juvenile justice system, respectively.
Based on today’s challenges, Richards asked Lowe what issue deserved his focus in Anderson County, and how he planned to deal with it.
“I think our biggest problem is drugs,” Lowe said, noting a 20-month long multiagency investigation in which his office had been instrumental to bring down a drug trafficking operation.
“I think we can do more, Gary,” he said. “It will take the cooperation of each and every agency, so one of the things that I would like to do is to is seize more property from the criminals.”