BENTON - Scott County residents will soon have even more access to county offices.
County commissioners discussed new hours for county offices at the courthouse during their regular meeting Tuesday.
"We're increasing our hours from seven and a half hours to eight hours per day," said Commissioner Jamie Burger.
County offices were previously open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. with an hour for lunch, although some offices had a person come in at 8 a.m., according to commissioners.
Effective Monday, county offices will be open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with only a half hour off for lunch.
"This is more in line with the courthouses in our area," Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said, noting Mississippi County has the only courthouse among eight in the area researched by commissioners that stays open until 5 p.m.
"That will give more qualified help to all offices that needed the help," Burger said of the longer hours.
County employees will see bigger paychecks as the additional time will be paid at their regular hourly wage, commissioners said. The extra time works out to 2.5 additional hours per week for employees, bringing their work week up from 37.5 hours to 40 hours.
The additional hours won't be the only reason for bigger paychecks as a cost-of-living raise was also approved for 2005.
"All employees got a 4-percent raise this year," Priggel said. "Office holders got a 2-percent raise."
Altogether, the raises average out to a 3.5-percent increase.
"The last raise any office holders got was in 1999," Priggel said. The raise for office holders was actually approved by the salary commission when it met in 2003.
In other Scott County business Tuesday:
* Commissioners reviewed the general revenue fund budget as a group, although they noted it has already been reviewed by each of them individually.
All the county office budgets are complete with the exception of the assessor's office which commissioners said they still need to reach an agreement with.
"No real issues came up," Burger said of the budget process.
"All of the office holders said their employees are happy," added Dennis Ziegenhorn, commissioner.
* The Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission at Malden is starting an outreach program, according to Steve Duke, executive director of the BRPC.
As part of this outreach program, Duke and BRPC staff members will be at the Scott County Courthouse from 9 a.m. until noon March 9 for area mayors and city representatives to meet with. Duke said this is for those officials who would like to take advantage of BRPC's services but find the drive out to Malden inconvenient.
Duke also reminded commissioners of the BRPC's grant writing services.