Section 54. Except as otherwise specifically provided, newly elected or appointed officers or employees shall receive the minimum rate in the salary grade to which the office or position has been allocated. Recommendations for increases in the salaries of officers and employees under the salary schedule, shall be submitted in the first instance to the county commissioners of the various counties by the proper authority, and if approved by them and by said board shall take effect upon notice by said commissioners to said board. If said proper authority fails or refuses to recommend step-rate increases as provided in the salary schedule he shall notify said commissioners giving his reasons for such failure or refusal and shall present a copy of such notice to each employee affected. If said commissioners do not approve a proposed increase in salary under the salary schedule, they shall report the recommendation of the head of the department or institution with their own recommendation to said board whose decision shall be final, except that said board shall not grant an increase in salary greater than that recommended by the head of the department or institution.