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Public workers’ compensation is a tough sell in private sector

Published: Tue, July 31, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Trumbull County Commission- er Paul Heltzel was on the mark with this characterization of the bonus given to the regional airport’s top man: “It sticks out like a sore thumb.”

It did — until Dan Dickten, aviation director for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, decided to turn down the $7,000 bonus.

Dickten’s decision came after Heltzel and his fellow commissioners, Dan Polivka and Frank Fuda, reduced the bed tax earmarked for the airport’s operation.

The commissioners made no secret of the fact that their action was prompted by the bonus granted by the Western Reserve Port Authority, the governing body of the regional airport.

Heltzel, Polivka and Fuda noted that county government employees have gone without a raise of any kind for three years. There’s no doubt that granting a compensation boost to one public employee makes it difficult for the commissioners to ask other workers to accept pay freezes or to make concessions.

Dickten’s decision not to accept the $7,000 is to be praised because it not only demonstrates an understanding of the public’s growing aversion to government employees’ salaries and benefits, but it enables the commissioners to revisit the bed tax allocation for the airport.

“I’d say, under the circumstances, it looks favorable that we would open it back up,” Heltzel said of the bed tax, which was reduced from 5 percent to 4 percent.

It is no fiction that when it comes to pay raises and other boosts in compensation, public employees embrace a simple philosophy: “Me too.”

Case in point: Last year, Youngstown State University’s president and board of trustees, in the midst of labor unrest on campus, approved a three-year contract for the faculty with no pay increases in the first and second years and a 2 percent raise in the third year.

The other unions on campus representing classified employees, police and professional and administrative staff tailored their demands to what the faculty was granted and will be granted in the next three-year contract.

To be sure, YSU’s employees have had to make concessions on health care premiums and other workplace practices, but the fact remains that pay increases in the midst of a national economic recession are an anomaly.

We opposed the three-year labor agreements reached with the faculty and classified employees unions and warned that the others would not settle for anything less. We also warned that YSU, with its deteriorating financial condition as a result of a reduction in state funding and a decline in student enrollment, would have a difficult time covering the costs of the labor contracts.

Close vote

That reality was reflected in last week’s 5-4 vote by the trustees on the contract with the Association of Professional/Administrative Staff. The pact calls for no pay raise in the first year, a 2 percent in the second year and a “me too” clause with the faculty in the third year.

Recently, YSU President Cynthia Anderson conceded that the fall enrollment will be lower than the enrollment in the 2010 fall semester, which means the university will be pulling in less revenue.

During last year’s negotiations with the faculty and classified employees unions, we recommended a year-to-year pact with no raises until YSUs financial situation was stabilized. Our recommendation was ignored.

Instead, the president and trustees decided to increase tuition yet again, which is contributing to the lower enrollment.

At some point, the public sector is going to have to face what has become reality for private sector employees: Having and keeping a job these days may be as good as it gets.


1NoBS(2321 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Only an entity with a true agenda to smear public employees would couple a story about one non-union, head-of-his-department man turning down a bonus with a completely unrelated story regarding campus union contract negotiations, which contains nothing new or newsworthy, but wherein the Vindy arrogantly and even bizarrely presumes it has legal standing to tell the administration how to negotiate.

Come right out with it, Vindy: you won't be happy until every public employee, no matter the job, rank, or anything, makes minimum wage, and at that point, you'll start hammering on minimum wage being too high.

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2DwightK(1402 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The Vindy always uses department heads, police chiefs and other supervisory personnel as examples of public employees being paid too much. They never talk about police officers, firefighters or corrections officers earning $35,000 a year, with no raises and escalating health care costs.

For the service these public employees provide we are getting a bargain.

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3doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

With private corporations profits at an ALL TIME HIGH and individual tax rates at their lowest in 60 yrs -- I'm a bit perplexed as to why so many middle class taxpayers are eager to cut their own community services w/ departmental layoffs, not filling newly vacated positions, etc, etc -- but at the same time appear so eager to maintain every possible tax loophole for corporations --- especially the ones who have shipped American jobs overseas. I mean, honestly, what sense does that make? Communities are laying people off or reducing hours, etc, of employees that provide services to members of their communities because of a reduced tax revenue. And a particularly vocal group of very middle class tax payers - who live in those communities -- are filled with glee. Do they not comprehend that they are only hurting themselves? Apparently they are content with getting less for the taxes they do pay while at the same time voting for people who are intent on providing tax cuts for corporations who utilize a great deal of those same community resources and who, based on their declared profits, apparently don't need the relief. It would seem logical to reward companies that actually create American jobs with some sort of financial incentives, but to just give out tax relief to companies for nothing other than being a company, makes no sense at all. We're in it together. If the people don't have extra money to spend, corps go under. If the people and the corps can't beprovided services they need and use within their communities, we all suffer. Everyone pays their fair share.... And I'm not just talking about corporations, I also mean no more gaming the system on phony disabilities and getting gov't checks for having more and more babies that you can't provide for yourself. I don't mind helping someone get back on their feet after being laid off or if they need some help for awhile feeding their families, but the bottom line is -- Everyone pays their FAIR SHARE. Yet, these middle class people, that need their communities to provide roads, fire and police, education, etc, etc, are racing to see who can get less and less value from their already low taxes and when it's done, they pat themselves on the back as if they've actually accomplished something. While at the same time they fight so hard for corporate tax breaks for companies that use those same community resources to rake it in hand over fist....If these companies are going to use our roads, bridges, police, etc to help them sell us stuff and make record profits, then why are we, the middle class consumer, so very willing to carry the tax burden for providing those resources? These companies only exist because of us, not the other way around. Yet we give them every consideration in the world and seek to impose our collective retribution on some public servant earning 40k a year. Very perplexing. Very perplexing, indeed.

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4peacelover(818 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago



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5grand4dad(209 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Agree with most of the posters on here. AMEN is right. Sick and tired of the Vindy editorials on this.

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6apollo(1227 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Hey DwightK, the average salary of Boardman's police department is approx 90,000 a year. Hardly the 35,000 you claim above. Then factor in pensions that enable retirement at 50 and health care the envy of the working world and you can see why the taxpayers are ticked off. Then there are the little perks like uniform money and almost 40 paid vacation days for senior people. Ask NoBS above! I'll guarantee he isn't making near minimum.

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7jojuggie(1608 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"these companies exist because of us." You have got to be kidding.
Suppose the headlines in tomorrow's Vindy stated. COMPANY MOVING TO YOUNGSTOWN WILL HIRE 2000.
There would be 10,000 there to apply for a job.
In economics there are Four Factors of Production.
1. Land
2. Labor
3. Capital
4. Mgt.
Do you notice that Labor is just one of the factors.
Who buys the land? Who builds the bldg.? Who buys the machinery?
Remember the company pays you not the Union. An honest days work for an honest days pay. If you don't like your wage, get a job as a salesman. That's what I did. The harder I worked - the more money I made.

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8300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Management is a factor of production? Also, Capital is both physical and human.

This is what I was talking about, Juggie. You just went and posted something that appears to be factual, but is actually incorrect.

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9DwightK(1402 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Apollo, according to indeed.com the average salary for a Boardman police officer is $36,000. I didn't know that when I wrote my comment but I was pretty close on the guess.

Think about that. You get a guy to strap on a gun and deal with thieves and junkies all day for 36k a year? That's a great deal.

They may make more with overtime and side jobs but they're due the money if they put in the time.

I don't know where you came up with that $90,000 average figure.

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10jojuggie(1608 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Hey 300, can you show me where they built a factory with human capital? Give me the address, please.

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11jojuggie(1608 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

OK, let's substitute the word entrepreneur for management. How about that? I didn't think you would know what that word meant that started entre.

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12apollo(1227 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Tha above posters are living in some alternate reality. My 90,000 was a little high for 2011 but a couple of years ago it was true because they were feeding from the overtime trough much more than they are now. I checked the ACTUAL numbers I got DIRECTLY from the township. 2011 average police department (officer) salary was 75,000. 6 guys are making over 100,000 with the top guy making 114,000. Only 1 officer is making less than 60,000 and that's 55,000. Those numbers are WAGES only. Factor in perks, benefits, health care, and pensions and the average is closer to 125,000 per full time officer. Now, they will no doubt provide some smoke and mirrors bull website or mythological made up skullduggery but my info is directly from the source and indisputable. FInd it here:

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13apollo(1227 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


The links page.

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14300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

juggie, last post on all this. Just because you've got all the time in world doesn't mean that everyone else does as well.

The factory is considered physical capital, the human capital would be the knowledge set that enables the labor to become more productive. All of which is sitting upon land.

In order to see how absurd your post was, let's rephrase it into "can you show me were Land built a factory?"

Also, entrepreneurship isn't the same as management, and at any rate neither are typically considered a factor of production (though there are some economists who try to include entrepreneurship). Most economists would include entrepreneurs or manages into the labor group. Others dismiss entrepreneurs entirely as not part of production to begin with.

You know, as a pensioner, you get free tuition to attend local universities. YSU and Kent both probably offer this to the seniors, so you should go enroll a course or two. At the very least, your Vindy posts will become more accurate.

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15DontBanThisDrone(810 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Check out the Vindy's "Government Watch" page too. They have salary information for several local municipalities and school districts.


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16jojuggie(1608 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Maybe Econ books have changed since 1948.
If that mumbo-jumbo you're giving me about physical capital & human capital & entrepreneurs are labor, that book must have been written by some ultra liberal from some school in Timbucktu (or how ever you spell it).

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17AnotherAverageCitizen(1176 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


So you pick the highest paid area to show as examples. I am not suprised one bit you didn't use Milton, Springfield, Vienna townships to give examples. Why didn't you show what all the reserves at the county make for patrolling the streets? Maybe you don't want to say they donate many hours of risking their life, making $0.00 zero dollars in order to hope to get on a paid dept. some day.

Thank You to all the public workers out there. The paid and VOLUNTEERS.

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18DwightK(1402 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Apollo, looking at your linked page I see patrol officers earning salaries in the low 60's on straight time and a few more thousand on overtime.

I see seargents making in the low 70's and a couple supervisors making between 80 and 115.

I also see patrol officers labeled as cadets earning in the mid 20's.

All of that seems commensurate for college graduates who have been through the police academy.

That site also says the median household income in Boardman is $55,000 which is above average for the state of Ohio ($47,000).

I don't see overpaid police in Boardman. If you want to live in a nice area and keep it that way you have to attract and retain good civil servants. That costs money.

You're hiring people who deal with all the criminals you don't like. You won't find people to do that paying Wal-Mart wages.

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19southsidedave(5126 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

If you think that the police are overpaid, try doing their job for a week and see what you think!

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20anothermike(221 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

What amazes me (well, not actually, given the fact that most politicians are inept in the first place) is that many police officers are earning in excess of 100k annually because of "overtime" compensation, yet we cannot afford to hire more officers which are needed on the street...........

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