The Washington County Commissioners have made a counteroffer to the demand from the county's judges last month that pay raises be granted to their employees.
In an Oct. 7 court order, the judges said 6.2 percent raises should be given retroactive to June 26 for every court employee. Washington County Common Pleas Judges Susan Boyer and Ed Lane and Washington County Juvenile/Probate Judge Timothy Williams filed the order after they discovered that employees in several other county departments have received raises this year despite the fact that the commissioners said there should be no pay increases for county employees.
In a response filed in the county clerk of courts office this week, the commissioners proposed instead that a one-time payment of $1,500 be given to certain county employees who were hired before Jan. 1 of this year and who have not had a raise this year.
The cost to do that would be $192,000.
The commissioners' response indicates that granting the 6.2 percent retroactive raise to the court employees would cost $95,162 over the next 12 months and a 6.2 percent retroactive raise for all other county general employees, to be equitable to the court's order, would cost an additional $211,996.
"The board does not consider it fiscally responsible to add $307,158 in additional salaries at this time," the response states.
Washington County court employee salaries (hourly rates):
Common Pleas Court
Rita Painter, secretary, $15.94.
Donald Wilson, bailiff, $14.95.
Teresa Eddy, secretary, $14.95.
Angela Stevens, assignment commissioner, $16.93.
Julie Warren, secretary, $12.47
Renee Marshall, bailiff, $15.45.
Randall Burnworth, magistrate, $35.70.
Mark Kerenyi, magistrate, $26.39.
Margaret Shiflett, bookkeeper, $17.17.
Lisa Burkhart, deputy clerk, $14.71.
Jill Roach, deputy clerk, $14.71.
Judith McAtee, deputy clerk, $12.
Rae Ward, court administrator, $32.48.
Kristi Mettler, probation, $17.33
Melody Zimmerman, probation officer, $19.81.
Kimberly Hinkle, probation, $17.83.
Justin Gregory, probation officer, $17.33.
Matthew Tullius, probation officer, $14.43.
Natalie Doughty, counselor, $19.78.
Patricia Ralston, deputy clerk, $15.
Patricia Whiteley, deputy clerk, $15.14.
Rachel Davis, deputy clerk, $12.
Mary Summers, medical coordinator, $15.07.
Constance Minosky, youth specialist, $12.68.
Debra Rauch, food services coordinator, $12.36
Lorna Johnson, control desk, $10.30
Brian Hesson, superintendent, $23.08.
Lorraine Ramage, administrative support, $15.07.
Niccole Burkhart, case manager, $16.48.
Stephanie Courtney, case manager, $16.33.
Thomas Hohenstein, maintenance, $12.73.
Kelsie Ross, youth specialist, $11.06.
Brian Orders, youth specialist, $12.74.
Rose Conley, cook, $8.76.
Dale Saling, youth specialist, $11.06.
Cassandra Huffer, youth specialist, $12.50.
Lesley Tabler, control desk, $8.50.
Jeremy Thomas, control desk, $8.50.
David Mattingly, youth specialist, $12.50.
Angela Knox, youth specialist, $12.50.
Katelin Gedon, youth specialist, $12.50.
Leah Doibberlaer, youth specialist, $12.50.
Source: Washington County administrator Paul Cunningham.
"We just cannot look at this year or next year - we need to be thinking of 2013 and what the ramifications will be for us with additional cuts from the state and federal levels," said Commissioner Cora Marshall. "There are mandatory services we need to provide and also we want to be able to maintain jobs."
Marshall noted that the commissioners took into consideration not only finances but also the idea of fairness when coming up with the response.
"When one department receives a raise and another one doesn't, the morale goes way down," she said.
The one-time payment proposed would be given to the 42 employees of the courts, according to county administrator Paul Cunningham, as well as dozens of others.
"Other than the court (employees), there are 44 county general employees and 42 other employees other than county general (who would get the payment)," he said.
Cunningham explained that although the other employees fall outside the county general fund, they are considered to be under the commissioners' control.
"The funds that won't (be given a one-time payment) are the unions and departments that have the boards, like Mental Health (and Addiction Recovery Board)...the commissioners don't have any control (over them)," he said.
Boyer declined to comment Friday about the commissioners' response, Lane could not be reached for comment and Williams did not return a phone call seeking comment.
According to the court order, when budgets for this year were issued by the common pleas and juvenile/probate divisions, no wage increases for court employees were included and that was "based upon the representation by the commissioners that there would be no raises in calendar year 2011."
Additionally, the court order indicates that the commissioners said there would not be salary increases for any county employees in 2010; however, some county employees did receive wage increases last year.
As a result, according to the court order, the commissioners were ordered to make the judges aware of any raises granted this year and if in fact raises were granted, court employees would receive equal pay raises effective the same date the other raise was granted.
The court order indicates there have been "numerous" wage increases in other offices and although the commissioners were made aware of them, they did not tell the judges.
Cunningham has said several dozen employees, some of whom fall under the county general fund and some who do not, have been given raises this year. The departments that gave raises had enough funds in their budgets to do so and in some cases, an employee in an office resigned or retired and instead of another person being hired, that person's salary was shifted to others in the office.
Marshall pointed specifically to the clerk of court, auditor and engineer's offices as those under the control of the commissioners that granted raises this year.
She also pointed out that a deputy clerk in the probate department, which is overseen by Washington County Juvenile/Probate Judge Timothy Williams, was granted a $1.50 an hour raise.
She said the commissioners were not made aware of the raises that were given.
"We're dealing with this court order because of four departments giving raises when they were requested in 2010 not to give raises for 2011 and if someone was going to have a personnel change they were to notify the commissioners and because of this not happening, this is where we are," she said.
Marshall noted that a new policy has been put in place so the commissioners are made aware of such changes.
"Now the fiscal officer (in the auditor's office), they send us a copy of any payroll changes and we send that to the elected officials and department heads now," she said.
Cunningham said giving a one time payment in the amount of $1,500 to the 128 employees - which would total $192,000 - is not going to have a significant impact on county finances.
"It'll come from our cash balance," he said, noting that there is currently $4.7 million in the county general fund's cash balance.
Columbus attorney Mark Landes, representing the commissioners, said the alternative that has been offered is a fair one.
"You consider just complying with the court order, the other option legally is to just be in contempt, and the other was to say 'We hear what you're saying and we want to do everything right, how about this?' and that's what this is," Landes said.