Officials dock Gains’ budget $100K


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Prosecutor Paul Gains

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll partly or fully rescind pay raises he gave his staff now that the county commissioners have docked his budget $100,000.

“I’m looking at my options. I’m not making a decision on anything right now,” Gains said Wednesday evening.

Over Gains’ protest, the commissioners unanimously cut $100,000 from the prosecutor’s 2011 budget because of their dissatisfaction with raises Gains issued Jan. 31.

The cut lops $82,000 off Gains’ $1,982,000 criminal- division budget and $18,000 off his $810,000 civil-division budget.

“All three county commissioners were extremely unhappy with the amount of money that was spent on raises for his staff,” Commissioner Chairman John A. McNally IV said of the $220,000 worth of increases.

Some of the raises were between $8,000 and $12,000 a year, McNally said, calling those “excessive” under current local economic conditions.

“This unprecedented action is irresponsible and will severely hinder our efforts to put criminals in prison and make this community a safer community,” Gains told the commissioners at Leonard Kirtz School.

“Even with the raises, you know that my biweekly payroll is less than it was five years ago,” Gains said before the vote.

Gains said the raises were needed to keep his prosecutors from leaving for higher-paying jobs.

Even with the raises, they average 10 percent lower salaries than their Trumbull County counterparts and 7 percent lower than Youngstown city prosecutors, he noted.

“I consider this action to be nothing more than retaliation on your part,” Gains told McNally.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth. It must be re-election time for Mr. Gains, and he must be concerned about that,” McNally said after the meeting. Gains will seek re-election next year.

“If people wanted to retaliate, we would have taken the entire [$220,000] amount,” he said

“I thought we were pretty generous in our decision.”

McNally said the $100,000 Gains was docked will go into the commissioners’ administrative fund.

“It’ll be there just for general-purpose uses,” he said.

Gains’ allegation of retaliation referred to the letter he wrote that spawned the Ohio Ethics Commission’s criminal investigation of the county’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place in 2006.

The probe followed Cafaro Co.’s unsuccessful civil lawsuit to rescind the purchase and resulted in the indictment of the Cafaro Co., McNally and six other defendants on charges that they conspired to impede the move of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to Oakhill.

The trial is set to begin June 6.

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