Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains told county commissioners he has ruled out blanket pay raises to his staff, though step increases will remain in his 2012 budget.
“I don’t anticipate giving raises other than step increases,” Gains told the commissioners during the Monday hearing concerning his 2012 budget request. “Blanket raises, absolutely not,” Gains added in response to a question from John A. McNally IV, chairman of the commissioners.
From the county’s general fund, Gains is seeking a $300,000 increase from $1.9 million this year to $2.2 million next year in his criminal division budget, saying he wants to fill some combination of vacant positions.
In the criminal division, Gains said he has three vacant assistant-prosecutor positions, two vacant secretarial jobs and a vacant investigator post.
The step increases, Gains said, amounts to a 1 percent to 3 percent pay raise, are granted, if the budget permits, to assistant prosecutors at five-year intervals beginning with their passage of the bar exam.
The average assistant county prosecutor earns $63,252 a year, compared with $67,452 for their colleagues working for the city of Youngstown and $69,495 for Trumbull County assistant prosecutors, Gains reported in written materials his office provided to the commissioners.
As for the productivity of his staff, Gains said his 13 criminal prosecutors disposed of 131 cases per prosecutor in 2010, compared to 90 per prosecutor for the eight criminal prosecutors in the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.
From the general fund, Gains is also seeking a $15,000 increase from $796,000 this year to $811,000 next year for his civil division, which represents county agencies and townships.
The combined request for next year is less than the $3,112,274 in combined civil and criminal division spending for the prosecutor’s office in 2007, said Linette Stratford, chief of the civil division.
The issue of pay raises in the prosecutor’s office during troubled economic times surfaced in March, when the county commissioners unanimously docked Gains’ budget $100,000 after Gains granted $220,000 in pay increases to his staff.
Gains said he absorbed the $100,000 cut by transferring some assistant prosecutors’ duties and compensation from the general fund to funds derived from delinquent real-estate tax collections and drug-dealer forfeitures.
Despite that controversy earlier this year, the tone of Monday’s budget hearing was cordial and nonconfrontational.
McNally said the commissioners hope to adopt next year’s budget by Dec. 15.
In attendance at the hearing were Jay Macejko, Youngstown city prosecutor, who will oppose Gains in next year’s March 6 Democratic primary, and Atty. William Blanchard, a retired city police detective and Macejko supporter. Macejko said he was taking vacation time to attend the hearing.