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County officials face dilemma over proposed CSB pay raises



Published: Thu, December 2, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Union workers at the Mahoning County Children Services Board should know before Christmas whether they’ll be getting pay raises.

The Mahoning County commissioners have until Dec. 17 to approve or disapprove of the proposed 3 percent annual increases, or they’ll automatically take effect.

The matter does not appear on the agenda prepared for today’s 10 a.m. commissioners meeting in the county courthouse basement.

The child welfare agency’s chairman said paying competitive salaries is necessary for his agency to do its job properly, but the chairman of the county commissioners said giving raises could be damaging to the agency in uncertain economic times.

“We’re here to protect children, and this is how we’re attempting to do it by retaining our staff,” said CSB Chairman Luis Arroyo.

“Are we going to see another dip next year” in the economy and in the tax collections that depend on its performance, asked Anthony T. Traficanti, chairman of the county commissioners.

“Do things look any better for us? That’s my concern,” added Traficanti, who previously had called the proposed raises “unconscionable” in the current economic climate.

Their comments were part of a Wednesday discussion of the proposed pay increases in a commissioners staff meeting, but the commissioners took no vote on the matter.

The raises were approved by CSB on Nov, 16, and that board’s resolution to grant them was time-stamped by the commissioners’ clerk Nov. 17, thereby starting the commissioners 30-day time clock for action on the matter.

The pay increases were contained in a three-year contract CSB negotiated with the Communications Workers of America, which took effect Feb. 1, 2009.

However, the raises were never granted because the county commissioners approved the contract — but with a salary freeze.

The 115-member bargaining unit, which represents clerical and group-home workers and social workers at the child welfare agency, recently asked that the raises be revisited. The social workers are paid about $32,000 annually.

CSB’s vote to grant the raises came two weeks after voters renewed by a 2-1 margin a countywide 0.85-mill, five-year CSB real-estate-tax levy, which generates $1.75 million annually.

Mahoning County Children Services workers have a lower starting salary than their peers in neighboring counties, Denise Stewart, CSB executive director, told the commissioners.

Training time is expensive, and that problem is compounded by staff turnover when employees are recruited away by higher-paying agencies, Stewart said, noting that her staff members must get 102 hours of training during their first year of employment.

“We just went through strategic planning. We’ve reorganized the agency for efficiency,” Arroyo said, noting that his agency eliminated some staff positions and redirected staff to meet its clients’ needs.

The contract, which called for the raises, “is really to support our staff in showing that we appreciate their work and also the retention of staff,” Arroyo added.

“But how are we going to handle this if we keep seeing declining revenues?” Traficanti asked.

“If this trend would continue, and the public becomes so angry that they say, ‘You know what? We’re not going to vote for our levies,’ I mean, what do we do?’” Traficanti asked. “That’s the situation that the commissioners are facing right now.”

“One of the indications I see in the economy is 18 pages of unpaid taxes [in the newspaper]. They may have passed the levy, but they’re not paying their taxes to cover that levy,” said Victoria Wiery, the only CSB member to oppose the raises.

“Real estate is coming down in value,” resulting in reduced tax collections, she said.


Comments

1BROWNSBABY(12 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, I would say the commissioners are in a dilemna. Here's the dilemna: Hey, even though we've granted numerous other county employees raises in the past year, hey I see an opportunity to grab to spotlight to serve myself and make them look bad so I can look good. Uh-oh, these guys really do know how to budget. Everything they are saying is true, and hey these people are really justified in asking for their measly 3% raise, oh crap....

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2Wakeup722(37 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

One of the indications I see in the economy is 18 pages of unpaid taxes [in the newspaper]. They may have passed the levy, but they’re not paying their taxes to cover that levy,” said Victoria Wiery, the only CSB member to oppose the raises

That list of unpaid taxes has been long even when the economy was good. Doesn't CSB get alot of it's revenue from federal monies? The last time I looked at my property tax bill, only $50 of it went to children services. I was surprised. And as long as I remember, that amount has
Remained the same for years. The schools keep going up and up. Now kids need educated. Victoria Wiery... How do the schools continue to operate If people aren't paying their taxes? I know that some teachers salaries can be up to $70,000. What makes a Csb worker less worthy of a raise when both are working with the
Children of mahoning county!

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3HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

The biggest scam contained in this article is the comparison of salaries between the local CSB employees and the neighboring CSB employees. YSU's professors do the same thing, comparing their salaries to those of professors at Ohio State and other Ohio based colleges. What they fail to mention is the cost of living in neighboring communities. $32,000 in the Mahoning Valley is equivalent to $45,000 in Columbus because the housing costs in Columbus are higher. Time for the commissioners to do the right thing and vote to freeze these salaries.

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4mike10(84 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

What precentage of CSB cases come from homes of tax payers who foot the bill? How many of the CSB employees own homes in Mahoning County? Let's see some numbers. A little cheese with the whine.

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5MSme3(7 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

In all fairness to these workers even if they get the raise they will still be making less than Trumbull CSB and there's no cost of living difference there. And even if most homeowners aren't directly receiving their services they are still contributing to preventitive efforts. If these workers aren't out there doing their job, the tax bill will really skyrocket to pay for the increase of kids put in "the system"

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6tommy44432(2 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Does anyone really think in this economy that someone that has a job already with county government...arguably a pretty cushy position to begin with....will quit and go elsewhere just because they did not get this raise? I highly doubt it. But consider that for every person that may decide to leave there will be several standing in line to take their place and possibly mor qualified than the person that quit. County workers become quite arrogant thinking they should be entitled to raises paid for by taxpayers regardless of the financial stress the taxpayer may be under. I say don't give the raises and if the county worker wants to quit let them and then they will learn the cold hard facts of life in the real world!

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7Wakeup722(37 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Tommy....Please get your facts straight before you post something you know very little about. Csb workers do not have cushion jobs that you seem to believe. This is a very difficult Job with little rewards. Csb workers often work over 40 hours a week and only get paid for 40. Nobody is threatening to quit. From what I read and saw Csb said two workers were looking to leave for another county job that does have raises. And Tommy you have your nerve to say let the workers quit and learn the cold hard facts of life? What type of work do you do? I think the Csb workers live the cold hard life everyday. Tommy, do you put your life in danger everyday by knocking on someones door who you will know does not want you there and you fear for your safety. Do you have to be called out in the middle of the night to investigate a child that's been raped by someone and that child is crying from the trauma that was inflicted by someone in their family or how would you feel to have to document a Child's severe burns or bruises. I don't think so. So do not comment about something you know nothing about! Your ignorance shows.

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8AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Wakeup...You seem to be ignorant to the economic reality that exists in Mahoning County and the tax burden that continues to be heaped upon the homeowner/taxpayer. These employees chose to become caseworkers, knowing what the pay was. It is not the tax-payers responsibility to lavish them with money.

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9Wakeup722(37 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

AKAFRI....I am not ignorant to the economic reality that exists in Mahoning County. I too am a property tax payer/homeowner. I too, are experiencing hardships. I understand that tax payers are tired of being asked to dish out more money all the time. I have been following the news on CSB raises and have done some research on my own. This past levy that was passed was a renewal, not a new one. The homeowners of Mahoning County were not asked to provide any more additional money. The amount that I have paid to Children Services on my tax bill is minimal and has not gone up. I do not believe that it is the taxpayers responsibility to lavish the workers with money. I don't believe that this is happening here.

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10hardworker68(5 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

HaydenThomas said The biggest scam contained in this article is the comparison of salaries between the local CSB employees and the neighboring CSB employees. YSU's professors do the same thing, comparing their salaries to those of professors at Ohio State and other Ohio based colleges. What they fail to mention is the cost of living in neighboring communities. $32,000 in the Mahoning Valley is equivalent to $45,000 in Columbus because the housing costs in Columbus are higher. Time for the commissioners to do the right thing and vote to freeze these salaries

Columbus is not a neighboring community. I think they meant Trumbull County and Stark...

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11lovedrama(138 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

They deserve the raises and much, much more. Without them the crime rate would be tenfold-they take kids from drug abusers and inform the police, who in turn watch them or order them treatment or to follow a case plan.They convince sexually abused kids to talk, and in turn get sex offenders into court. They take juveniles and try to house them in treatment centers when they show signs of being criminals. I hope they get raises-Id rather my tax dollars went to this than some other government crap.

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