A fact-finder’s report that recommends giving workers at the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office no base-wage increase for 2013 cites a declining county reserve fund and a mixed bag of other economic indicators.
Trumbull County commissioners voted 3-0 this week to approve the report and grant no increase.
Sheriff’s employees are the only county bargaining units with a chance to get an increase in their base wages in 2013. The others are on a wage freeze.
But sheriff’s employees bargained for a wage reopener this year that gives them a chance to get a wage increase.
The union, which has rejected the fact-finder’s report, has asked for a $5-per-hour increase. The county wants no increase. The matter goes to a conciliator next, and that process could take another one to three months.
In a report, fact-finder Robert Lustig of Cleveland cited a number of factors favorable to the county’s position — declining state funding, a wage freeze for other county employees and a dropping reserve fund (money left over at the end of the year) in recent years.
He also cited factors favorable to the workers — a 5 percent drop incounty unemployment since 2009, a $2.7 million increase in sales tax revenue last year, and $1 million infusion of casino revenue this year.
The reserve fund and 2012 carry-over were $9.4 million at the end of 2012, but the reserve fund has dropped by $5.5 million since 2009.
“While the balance in the reserve fund at the end of 2012 [$6.3 million] sounds like a lot,” the Government Finance Officers Association recommends a reserve fund of 16 percent of annual expenditures — or about $6.9 million, Lustig said.
The unions represent about 80 employees including deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, cooks, secretaries, clerks and maintenance people.
The report notes that despite the wage freeze, the workers did receive a “longevity equity agreement” for 2012 that ranged from $250 to $1,500 per employee based on length of service.
The wages paid to sheriff’s employees in adjacent counties are all higher than Trumbull except for Mahoning, the report says.
Corrections officers at the sheriff’s office also were eligible for a wage reopener this year.
Last month, commissioners approved a pay increase of 25 cents per hour for each of the 66 corrections officers, as well as elimination of a new-hire wage scale.