By Ed Runyan
Though an arbiter will have the final say on whether about 80 sheriff employees will get raises in 2014, the intent of Trumbull County commissioners is to keep 2014 spending the same as 2013.
On the second and final day of county budget hearings, the discussion among elected and appointed department heads and commissioners Tuesday was the same: New year, same money.
One exception is health care, which will cost more than $1 million more next year — about half of which will be paid by the county, the other half by the county’s 790 employees.
The county projects its 2013 health care costs to be $11.2 million, but a 12 percent projected increase will put the total at about $12.5 million in 2014.
That works out to an average cost of $15,881 per employee — before employees contribute their 10 percent.
As for deputies, a decision has not been rendered by an arbiter who heard arguments from the county and the union last month on whether they should get a raise.
County officials did grant a 25-cents-per-hour raise to 66 corrections officers in August, as well as elimination of a new-hire wage scale.
Other county employees have been on a wage freeze for several years, though they get step increases. Employees and their departments can probably expect to get the same money in 2014 as in 2013, said Adrian Biviano, county auditor.
He said he expects the 2014 budget to be $43 million to $44 million — the same as 2013, when it was $43.4 million.
Though county officials had hoped the Utica Shale play would boost sales-tax revenue and other economic indicators, 2013 hasn’t shown it, Biviano said.
The county’s rainy-day fund has dropped from $6.7 million in 2009 to $3.1 million this year.
The county collected about $1.2 million from the state’s casinos last year and expects to get about $2.3 million this year.
The county has purchased police cruisers, computers for the sheriff’s office, and made repairs and parking-lot improvements of about $175,000 with the casino money so far this year.
Thomas Altiere, county sheriff, said one employee leaving at the end of 2013, Chief Deputy Don Guarino, will not be replaced, which will save money.