DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) – In an unconventional move, Walton County commissioners voted to give every county employee a 5% raise effective immediately.

Normally raises aren’t instituted until the start of the new budget year in October.

But with the high rate of inflation, county commissioners decided to expedite the process.

“The county is in a good financial shape right now, in fact, we are in a very good financial shape so it only makes sense for us to try and help our employees while we’ve got the opportunity to do so,” Walton County Commissioner Danny Glidewell said.

Glidewell added that the county has about 20 positions open right now.

They haven’t spent that money, so they had a budget surplus to reallocate to current employees.

“Nationally, inflation is a serious issue,” Glidewell said. “Because of Walton County’s size, a lot of our employees have to drive substantial distances to get to work and so we have, because of the open positions, we’ve got some extra money that is allocated for salaries that we haven’t actually spent for salaries.”

Walton County Commission Chairman Mike Barker said this also helps the county remain competitive with private industries raising wages.

“There’s no doubt it’s needed and to say that they don’t deserve more, they do because other places are paying more so we either retain them or we lose them and if we lose them we lose services so the citizens will lose if we lose employees,” Barker said.

Commissioners said the pay raise is permanent and will be built into next year’s budget.

The pay raise that traditionally happens with the new budget year is not automatic, but commissioners said they hope they are in a place to be able to include that additional raise come October.