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Mahoning County’s CSB risks voter backlash with pay raises



Published: Sun, November 28, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti was being kind when he used the word unconscionable to describe proposed 3 percent annual pay raises for the 115 union employees of the Children Services Board. A more appropriate word would be stupid — given that the raises were approved by members of the CSB governing body just two weeks after voters renewed a 0.85-mill real-estate tax levy that generates $1.75 million annually.

Is there is any doubt that the levy would have been rejected by a wide margin had CSB officials made it known during the fall election campaign that passage would mean a fattening of the employees’ wallets?

Like the thousands of county residents who did cast a “yes” vote, we strongly believe in the work the CSB does. As we said in an editorial endorsing levies for the Children Services Agency, the county Mental Health Board and the Board of Developmental Disabilities, “We know times are tough, but how can we turn our backs on the social service agencies that care for children in need, residents who are developmentally disabled and individuals with mental health challenges?”

We can’t — especially at a time when the national economic recession has been particularly hard on those who are most in need.

The renewal of the levies demontrated the generosity of the people of Mahoning County.

Repaying that kindness with pay raises for public employees feeds the perception of many private-sector taxpayers that government workers don’t recognize today’s economic realities.

Let there be no doubt about how the voters will react to the pay raises: When the 0.85-mill levy is put up for renewal in five years, it will go down in flames.

Fortunately, Commissioner Traficanti and his two colleagues, David Ludt and John McNally, have the final say on the wage hikes. A “no” vote is demanded — and expected.

“It’s unconscionable, and we’re going to bring the Board before the commissioners and have them explain this.” Traficanti, chairman of the board of commissioners, said recently.

Wage freeze

Ludt, who lost his re-election bid and will be leaving office at the end of the year, said he has been inundated with calls at work and at home from residents who say, “We passed the levy, and now you’re giving them a raise. I’m for putting a [wage] freeze on.”

The raises were contained in a three-year contract CSB negotiated with the Communications Workers of America, which took effect Feb. 1, 2009. The county commissioners approved the contract, but imposed a salary freeze.

Recently, the union, which represents clerical and group-home workers and social workers at the child welfare agency, asked the board to revisit the raises.

The increases were approved by vote of 9-1.

This is not the time to be bolstering the salaries of the employees, not with county government facing major financial challenges.

Commissioners Traficanti, Ludt and McNally should meet with CSB officials and board members and tell them “no.”


Comments

1unhappyvoter1(87 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

great article and I do agree.

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2mrblue(989 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The commissioners need to say No Raise. The same goes for Gaines.

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3BROWNSBABY(12 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I still think it's completely unfair as to how the CSB workers are being attacked for this raise. Yes, the timing was stupid, but it's unfortunate that there have been a lot of other county employees get raises with no fuss. If you're smart about going to the commissioners they would have told you how to sneak a raise under the table without the voter's knowledge, so their hands can still be clean. What makes that any better for the voters? I encourage anyone to look at the county records as to what employees have gotten raises in this past year. The CSB workers are being unfairly singled out here, and the children need them.

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4Wakeup722(37 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow vindy! I agree with Kim and brownsbaby 100 percent. What has CSB workers done to tick you off? Is this town that boring that your staff has nothing else to write about and they have to pick on CSB workers getting a raise?

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5skm21(1 comment)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Thank you Wakep and brownsbaby and Kim. I am a CSB worker. We asked for a pay raise with our last contract in 2009. It was approved by the CSB board but not the commissioners. Since then, our levies have passed Three Times, but still no payraise. This last request by our union reps to give us our raises retroactive to 2009 was also approved by the CSB board but not, so far, by the commissioners. We are not paid out of the same fund as other county workers. Our levies provide for our potential payraises. Last year 2 out of 4 of our cheif supervisors retired and have not been replaced. Money is available for our payraises but the commissioners won't approve our raises for some political reason. Other county agencies have received payraises during this time period. Cost to us for our healthcare benefits has risen twice in the last four years. In Summit County CSB caseworkers make $15,000-$20,000 more per year than in Mahoning County. Are the efforts of CSB workers not appreciated in Youngstown? We work with families in crisis in an effort to help them stabalize. We protect children when their parents are unable to do so, often due to mental health issues or addiction for which they need treatment. We come to our work with passion and hope to help our society to heal in at least some small way. Butwe are degreed professionals, many with college loans to pay on top of rising food and fuel costs, and we struggle to make ends meet ourselves. What salaries do Commissioners Traficanti and Ludt make? Is their work more important than the work of those of us who work directly with those in our society who are struggling? I am losing my passion for this work, especially after feeling less and less valued by my community and the powers who hold our payraises in their hands, begrudge us a 3% raise, and portray us in the news as greedy. I have thoughts of moving into the private sector, and getting out of social work altogether, so I can make enough money to put aside something for retirement. And do less stressful work that is valued more by society, where company profits allow good pay, where my raises cannot be witheld by politicians who don't value public service.

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6Wakeup722(37 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Skm21...hang in there! There are many in the public that appreciate the hard work that CSB workers. I am one of them.

Kim- thanks for the enlightening websites. I have them bookmarked.

It is public record that other county agencies got raises the past few years. Those contracts that were approved with no backlash from the vindicator! One is the sanitary engineers and MRDD.

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7ytown1(392 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

To all you taxpayer "HATERS",
AKA:Wakeup722, BROWNSBABY, KimKotheimer, CatLover,

The last comment by Wakeupo722,
"Those contracts that were approved with no backlash from the vindicator! One is the sanitary engineers and MRDD."

Are exactly why we as taxpayers are ticked off, it was that the MRDD did give out raises, the WRTA has spent like a drunken sailor since getting their sale tax, along with the fact that in Boardman where I am the buses seldom have no more than 3-4 riders if any along with all of the others circumstances that have taken place in the last couple of voting cycles. We are taxed off,

Including the Boardman Township safety forces levy for 2.2 mil that was supposed to bring back the fire fighters and hire more police? Never happened, and now they want to add another 3.85 mil to the taxpayers burden? You know what would happen if that levy is passed? Raises for everyone, happy days are here again, and guess what we can only hire a portion of the officers that we promised due to other cost increase, Sorry, maybe another 2.0 mil levy will cover the cost to hire a few more officers?

See it is not the CSB workers, they are only the ones today that the line is being drawn in the sand with. I feel the other contracts need to be reopened up and adjusted back to before their raises and persks were given.

One other observation that I would like to point out is in the past when outright raises would be unpopular, they would go behind closed doors and negotiate additional perks like drop, 100% taxpayer funded retirement contributions, and there are others, see you cannot go beyond 100% contributions so now the only thing left for them to get is more raises, and there is no way that that should happen right now, and retro activity should not be there either.

I will leave you all to think about those thoughts, an please don't come lashing back that we as taxpayers don;t know squat, we understand the situation very well, we know all very well that if the taxes continue to rise like water we will drown in them. "Literally"

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8grand4dad(196 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The more I read about these stories,(public workers like CSB and YSU) the more disgusted I get. I fully support the CSB workers and the raises they got. I believe they are doing all they can to be a well run and fiscally responsible institution and I believe these workers were due for the modest raises they received. I do NOT support the out of control spending at YSU on employee salaries and benefits. YSU needs to get its act together. The public should demand better fiscal management from the college and that starts with Prez Anderson. Why single out the CSB when this kind of lunacy is happening down at YSU???

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9unhappyvoter1(87 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

IT'S NOTHING AGAINST CSB. THE TIME IS TERRIBLE. I REALLY DON'T THINK ANY COUNTY WORKER RECEIVED RAISES THIS YEAR. THERE WERE MANY FEDERAL, STATE AND COUNTY BUDGET CUTS. WHEN THINGS GET BETTER A RAISE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED. THERE ARE TO MANY PEOPLE LAID OFF RIGHT NOW, WITH DEGREE'S AND NO DEGREE'S. PUBLIC SECTOR AND PRIVATE SECTOR, LETS PRAY THINGS REBOUND SOON.BEING MEAN TO ONE ANOTHER IS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT ANY BETTER.

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10coupie(21 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The timing may have been terrible, but hopefully voters will understand that these raises were budgeted for and approved nearly three years ago. And your taxpayer money will continue to sit in the bank, so no one is benefiting. CSB cannot give $$ to other county agencies that are struggling. CSB could give everyone a double raise or fire half of it's employees, and it will not do one single thing to get more police on the streets on anything else. Their budget is entirely separate, therefore, it's really a dis-service to the employees who deserve a raise, and the taxpayers who support CSB, as this money will continue to sit in a bank with no one benefiting from it. I don't have the answers here people times are hard across the board. But what i can atest to is that me and my fellow co-workers work very hard, aren't paid nearly the hours we actually work, and do our best to help children and families in Mahoning County. And it is quite frustrating that there are other county agencies getting a raise without all this fuss and publicity, and look at your tax statement. I guarantee CSB collects less $ from the taxpayers than almost everyone else, but we are taking the fall out for everyone's frustrations with the economy including others who mismanage county dollars. Unfortunate:(

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11UWS(5 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Brothers and sisters-CSB workers are not the enemy. They have been unfairly targeted for some government office's agenda. The salary amount posted for the adverage worker somehow does not mention that it is the salary of someone who has been there for years. It does not mention the support staff who make a great deal less and all of who are going threw difficult times like you. They have always been responsible with their budgets and only asked for minimal raises even before the recent economy problems we are currently having. Are you saying you want no one in America even companies/organizations who have consistent managed their budget to give cost of living raises??? I know a support staff person there who's spouse was out of work, child was in college and they at over 50+ years of age was making $9.00 and hour. Do you think they struggled? Would you wish them more grief than they are experiencing now? They are doing everything they can to make our world a better place to live in and some people need to learn not to be so easily influenced by government and the news media printing less than the whole truth...

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12northsideperson(365 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Contracts and raises in many cases are negotiated well before changes in the economy become evident. CSB looks bad coming right after a levy passed, and YSU because greater than anticipated state cuts may force tuition increases. A contract negotiated now will probably be regressive, even if the economy turns around during the contract term (YSU should not have given the enrollment incentive in any case).

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13UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Just say NO NO NO commissioners. The taxpayers deserve your NO vote on the CSB pay raises.

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14mike10(84 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

No raises. Let them find jobs else where for the pay & benefits they currently receive.
At 10% unemployment there should be lots of candidates.
At best give them a one time year end bonus based on performance so there is no cost burden going forward

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15mike10(84 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

CBS workers, what percentage of the people you deal with are home owners?
(Tax Payers). I would find the number interesting. Is it less then 20%?
Explain how what you do benefits the average tax payer of Mahoning County.

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16coupie(21 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

If we can't provide the services to the families that need them to maintain these children in their own home, and they have to come into CSB custody, then somebody will be footing the astronomical bill of out of home placements whether they be in foster homes, group homes, or residential placement facilities. I'm guessing it won't be those who aren't homeowners/taxpayers. Besides that, just having decency of knowing there are people out there working in the community trying to intervene with these families and break these cycles that plague the county I think would be comforting to taxpayers to know they contributed in some way.

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17frank(9 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

From what I understand, the average salary of a CSB worker is approximately 32k. Which is not a whole lot of money for what they do. The fact that we are now going to make an example out of them is not right. When you the tax payer and voter pass levies, where do you think the majority of the money goes.Unless it is a specific levy designated for permanent improvement, it is placed in their general fund which most likely consists of salaries and benefits at a rate of at least 80% of their budget. Now that the levy has passed and now that they are scheduled to get raises, this is a surprise. Local school systems have been doing this for years, and yet nobody is complaining. You people need to understand where you tax dollars are being placed and used prior to voting. Once the levy is passed...all bets are off.

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18MSme3(7 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

From what earlier posts have stated, csb's money does not go into the general fund which is why they are upset and not able to run their own budget because the commissioners want to look good when something is in the public eye. They weren't worried about looking good when the passed other county raises under the table.

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19Cowboyfan(105 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

So basically if they don't get their raises they are taking their ball and going home. Grow up and see this area for what it is. CSB is no more special than every other public service worker that won't see raises this year or next. If you are looking for gratitude you better learn to pat yourself on the back.

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20burford(95 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Unconscionable?

A 3% raise on a $30,000 employee is $900 a year or about $35 a pay, for a job that protects abused and neglected children.

Is that kind of raise unconscionable?

The public voted overwhelmingly for the CSB levy. These raises are 2 years past due. There is enough money in their budget to give the raises.

Traficanti is trying to make political points. But he is failing. The public can see through this grandstanding nonsense.

Unconscionable?

That is a harsh term to use about people who are overworked and underpaid. Yes, underpaid. Traficanti is certainly not overworked or underpaid.

What is unconscionable is not helping children who are at risk.

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