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Pay raise by any justification is still a bitter pill to swallow

Published: Tue, February 12, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

2“They” are the commissioners, who last week approved a $10,862 raise for Jeffery S. Uroseva, the chief building official.

But, as we delved deeper into the story, it became clear that the commissioners had given some thought to the issue and were able to put forth a persuasive case.

Nonetheless, the 17.6 percent increase — $61,701 to $72,563 — is still a bitter pill to swallow. As the nation struggles to shed the baggage from the economic recession, many private sector workers are facing another year without a pay raise. Indeed, being able to hold on to a job is a challenge. Layoffs have been the norm for the past several years, which hasn’t been the case in government in general. Public sector entities have reduced their payrolls by not filling vacancies, but they have largely avoided furloughing workers.

Considering that government and other public entities operate, to a great extent, on tax dollars, granting anyone, even a person who is taking on added responsibilities, such a huge boost seems irresponsible at best.

Mahoning County commissioners Anthony Traficanti, Carol Rimedio-Righetti and David Ditzler, who took office in January, had a compelling argument for giving Uroseva, head of the county’s building inspection office, more money. He got a 3 percent hike six years ago.

Last month, the county office took over the city of Youngstown’s building inspection services, thereby allowing City Hall to disband its own department. In so doing, Youngstown got rid of its chief building official, Brenda Williams, and has saved her $72,563.66 annual salary.

It’s no accident that Williams’ salary is the same as what Uroseva will now earn. Commissioners Traficanti, Rimedio-Righetti and Ditzler explained that he deserved to make what his city government counterpart did because he is now in charge of all building inspections in the county.

It’s important to note that we have consistently supported the city and county merging services and have long advocated the joining of the health departments (with the county left standing) and the consolidation of the 911 emergency telephone system.

We have also, for three decades, pushed for the consolidation of the court system below the common pleas level, doing away with the municipal courts in Youngstown, Campbell and Struthers, the four county courts and the mayors courts.

We, therefore, applaud city and county officials for bringing building inspections under one roof.

That said, commissioners cannot be blind to the fact that approving a 17.6 percent pay raise, however justified, will rub most private sector taxpayers the wrong way.

Uncertain times

After all, these are uncertain economic times for governments at all levels. Not only is the federal government on a cost-cutting mission, but state government under Republican Gov. John Kasich has served notice that counties, cities, townships and villages can no longer look to Columbus to help fund their operations.

Against that backdrop, commissioner Traficanti, Rimedio-Righetti and Ditzler should have been more cautious in their decision.

While it is true that the county building inspection office does not receive any general fund money and is funded solely by building-permit fees, Uroseva is still a public employee. As such, he is open to scrutiny.

Was a pay raise justified? Yes, it was. But $10,862 is just too much for the taxpayers to swallow.


1TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

So since the vindy's readership is dwindling, the converse would seem to say that the editors shouldn't take a pay cut because the market and responsibilties merit their current pay level?

The obligations of this office just increased exponentially, yet there's a problem with increasing remuneration. I'm not following the logic,other than the vindy editors expect something for nothing.

Even in the private sector, a significant increase in job responsibilities comes with a pay bump.

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2NoBS(2761 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Right on the money, johnyoung! The Vindy's anti-public employee bias is clear and consistent. The commissioners saved the area over $61,000 by combining the tasks and responsibilities of two department heads into one, and all the Vindy can do is complain because someone got a raise. And they try to drive the wedge further between the public and private sectors by pointing out that the private sector has not had raises for "yet another year." They are duplicitous in their omission of the fact that no public employees have seen raises for quite some time as well. Other than this one individual whose workload and responsibilities have doubled, of course.

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3mishmash(333 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I praise the 3 Commissioners in evaluating the situation and moving without him hawing around. This probably started with McNally who was the catalyst for change as well as consolidation. He will make a great Mayor for Youngstown and work to further the Valley with these Commissioners.

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4grand4dad(218 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I am no fan of abuses in the public sector, but the Vindicator is way off base on this one. Why should anyone take on more duties in the public sector (or anywhere) if there is not appropriate compensation? If the county wants to do away with the compeansation of one department head to save money, then don't expect someone else to absorb all of those duties without some increase in pay. They actually did the right thing in this case and saved money while at the same time treating their employee properly and all the Vindicator can see is that some private sector workers who haven't had a raise lately won't like it because one public employee got more money for taking on another whole job. Shame on you Vindicator.

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5peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

"Even in the private sector, a significant increase in job responsibilities comes with a pay bump.'

Sure it does. But 17.6 %? Really??

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6TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Apparently you don't know people in banking or technology. Happens all the time

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7Bassplyr23(2 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Its nice that a Building Official can receive such a raise for more responsiblitity. How about the Staff working under the the Building Official who has not received a raise in years and ALSO have taken on more responsiblity and work load.

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