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County Council committee recommends pay hikes

5/9/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County employees not represented by a union are in line to receive their first salary increase since 2008.

During County Council’s Personnel Committee meeting May 6, members recommended Council adopt an amended resolution that will allow nonbargaining classified and unclassified employees a 1.5 percent raise. The affected employees work in the offices of Council, the Fiscal Officer, Prosecutor, Sheriff, Clerk of Courts and Engineer and for the Internal Audit Department and Human Resource Commission, according to the legislation. They would see the raise in the first full pay period following the resolution’s adoption, which could be as soon as Council’s next meeting May 13.

Brian Nelsen, director of Finance and Budget, said in a follow-up interview that the raises would go to 616 employees and cost county offices a total of $313,755. He added the raises were prompted by a fact-finder’s report that has awarded pay raises of the same amount to members of the Sheriff’s Fraternal Order of Police bargaining unit.

“Our nonbargaining employees have gone two years longer than they have without an increase,” Nelsen said. “We are doing this for equitable treatment of county employees.”

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said during the meeting that members of other county bargaining units are also in the process of negotiating raises of 1.5 percent this year.

Mary Ann Kovach, of the Prosecutor’s Office, asked Dodson if the raises would mean county offices would receive more money to cover the costs. Dodson acknowledged the Prosecutor’s Office is currently about $20,000 over budget in salaries and that the raises would raise that amount to $50,000. He added the Sheriff’s Office would also be over budget to about $139,000 with the raises in effect.

“We are aware that that exists,” Dodson said. “We are going to see if the problem remedies itself through people leaving. If need be, we can appropriate additional money. It’s a situation we have to deal with.”

Nelsen said that the county does not plan to increase appropriation levels for offices at this time.

“We are telling them they are going to have to make it work within their existing budget,” he said.

According to the legislation, employees last received pay increases in March 2008. Employees making $50,000 or less received a one-time stipend of $500 in 2009.

In other business, the Health and Human Services Committee recommended the county continue its contract with the Akron Area YMCA for drop-in child care services at the Job Center on Tallmadge Avenue at a cost of $67,346 for a year. According to Steve Zimmerman, assistant director of administration and finance of the Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS), clients of agencies at the Job Center can use the service for up to three hours at no cost.

He added that this year some of the noncounty providers at the site have put money toward the service because they realize how important it has been.

The committee also recommended a contract with Language Line Services for phone interpretation services for non-English speaking DJFS clients at a cost of $55,000 for a year. Zimmerman said the service is increasingly needed due to work participation requirements for refugees settling in the Akron area. He added the service is used about 150 times a month, with the average call lasting about 15 minutes.

Zimmerman also told the committee about a resolution that would be before Council for first reading at the next meeting. The county is in line to receive $70,000 for the Connecting the Dots program to help youths in foster care who are soon to be emancipated with job training and independent living. The first set of funding must be used by June 30, he added, but the county is also expecting to receive $250,000 for the next two years to continue the program, which will be conducted in conjunction with Summit County Children Services.

Also Monday, the Committee of the Whole recommended Council adopt the second piece of legislation regarding the upcoming renewal levy for the Akron Zoo. The legislation allows the levy to be put on the November General Election ballot.

County Council will next meet May 13 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by the regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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