Fourteen employees have left the department during the first seven months of this year, Pasquotank DSS Director Melissa Stokely said Monday.
Three of the departures were retirements and one was related to a military transfer.
said at least half the turnover is because of frozen salaries or high caseloads - or a combination of both.
"Some of it is attributed to the high caseloads, and the more turnover we have the more turnover it generates," she
The salary freeze the county commissioners put in place in 2009 is a factor in the turnover, according to Stokely
"I know it's a factor," Stokely
"Absolutely it's a factor."
The county commissioners froze employee pay in 2009 in the face of a budget shortfall stemming from plummeting sales tax and land transfer tax proceeds.
said the department has lost good workers because they were making less than they could earn in surrounding counties.
said the food and nutrition area of DSS
has only survived because highly experienced employees have "kept it afloat" despite the growing caseload.
"We're very fortunate that they're experienced and they're able to keep pace and keep up with what's going on," she
Although foster care and child protective services have had declining caseloads recently, eventually those areas will pick back up, she
understands the county's budget constraints and she
tries to be fiscally conservative.
noted staff members wore coats in the office last winter because she
cut the heat back.
also noted that six positions are being held open - no recruiting is being done to fill them.
Frozen salaries are making it hard to keep experienced employees in many cases, Stokely
"I know freezing salaries saves money," she
added that turnover also costs money.
The department has recruiting costs, and then it takes at least nine months to train someone to be an income maintenance worker, she
A social worker position takes just as long for training, and also requires weeks of mandatory out-of-town training, she
"It's a revolving door right now," Stokely
had the numbers to support five new positions in the 2010-11 budget but only got two.
The current budget does include money to upgrade the department's computer network.
The computer upgrade will help - fewer people will be able to get more done - but the department still needs to stop employees from wanting to go elsewhere, Stokely
is not the only DSS
facing these kinds of challenges.
Still, Pasquotank DSS
recently had a worker apply for a comparable position with another county that would pay $5,000 more, Stokely
She said the worker in this instance was the kind of worker she would like to keep, but she knew it was impossible to compete with a $5,000 raise even when the out-of-county commute was considered.