Press-Republican

November 30, 2013

Franklin County legislators mull staff raises

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Legislators are considering 1 percent raises for non-union Franklin County employees, some of whom haven’t had a pay increase for four years.

About $45,000 is set aside in the proposed $103.6 million budget for 2014, with about 89 management-grade people designated to get raises.

But there is no guarantee the raises will survive final budget adjustments.

FUND BALANCE USE

Budget Officer and County Manager Thomas Leitz presented a budget with a 8.76 percent tax increase in October then refined the numbers recently, bringing the possible tax levy down to 2.99 percent by borrowing more funds than planned from reserve accounts.

Some legislators feel that does not leave enough cash flow to operate under for the coming year and have suggested tax increases up to 5 percent, while others say the 8.76 percent or higher would be appropriate.

Legislators will likely adopt the budget at their Dec. 5 meeting and also an override of the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap as a precaution.

But they haven’t decided if planned pay raises will remain in the final budget.

RECOGNITION

Malone Republican Marc “Tim” Lashomb wants to see employees recognized for the work they’ve done.

He said they have been responsive to public needs during tough economic times.

And Lashomb wants the county to start correcting a longstanding issue to give pay increases to certain department supervisors, some of whom are paid less than the staff members they supervise.

“One percent is still half of what the unions are getting,” he said, “and with the large union, they not only get a raise, they get steps.”

STATUS OF CONTRACTS

The contract with the roughly 350-member United Public Service Employee union expires Dec. 31, 2014 — it gave a zero raise in 2012, 2 percent in 2013 and will give 2 percent in 2014.

Negotiations on a three-year contract between the county and the roughly 90 members of the Sheriff’s Department union have gone to a fact-finder since the two sides have failed to come to an agreement.

The county offered raises of 2 percent the first year, 2 percent the second and 2.5 percent the final year of the contract but balked at additional hazard pay.

MORE WORK

The management non-union employees cover a lot of job titles, among them law clerks, confidential secretaries, department heads and their deputies and other support staff.

Lashomb said these non-union staff members also deserve raises because, as the number of employees has been reduced in the past few years, the remaining workers have been asked to do more for the same amount of pay.

“One percent is not going to equal a step, but it’s the right decision,” he said. “You can’t continue to ignore non-management.”

“And you can’t spend money you don’t have,” said Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay).

“They are committed,” Lashomb said of the non-union staff, “but they are not compensated for what they deserve.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com