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Raises proposed for nonunion county employees

3/16/2017 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council’s Personnel Committee signed off on legislation March 13 that would grant raises to 634 county workers.

The proposed increases are for county employees not represented by unions, who may see 2.5 percent pay increases each year for the next three years, effective April 1.

Nonbargaining employees of County Council, the Executive’s Office, the Fiscal Office, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of Courts’ Office, the Engineer’s Office, the Internal Audit Department, the Office of Information Technology, the Human Resource Commission and the Development Finance Authority would be affected.

Chip Clupper, senior human resources administrator with the county, said the amount of the increases reflects what has already been agreed to by bargaining units.

“It has been the policy for many years that what the bargaining units negotiate, we follow suit [for nonbargaining employees] in order to avoid pay inequity and remain competitive with the market,” he said.

A new cycle of union contract negotiations began last September, an 18-month process that includes a dozen groups, county officials have said.

The first, with 69 union employees in the Auditor’s and Recorder’s divisions of the Fiscal Office, also included 2.5 percent pay increases for each of three years. Council signed off on that Sept. 26.

Others are yet to come before Council. Negotiations are in process with the unions representing employees in the county Executive’s and Sheriff’s offices, said Jason Dodson, chief of staff for the Executive’s Office. He added contract negotiations with the Sheriff’s Office are expected to look to fact-finding from an independent source.

The pay increases for nonunion employees currently on the table would cost the county $1.03 million in total, with $340,000 coming from the General Fund, according to documents provided by the county.

With the go-ahead from the Personnel Committee, Council may vote to enact the legislation at the next meeting.

In other business, the Planning and Economic Development Committee that evening recommended Council adopt legislation to move forward on a plan to improve access to Tri-County Plaza for Lakemore residents.

The shopping center, located at 1500 Canton Road, used to have a private drive behind it that enabled village residents to access the plaza, but due to its poor condition, the road was closed down and blocked with a cement barrier, said Dodson. Access off Canton Road is cumbersome for village residents and has added to traffic congestion, according to the legislation.

If the legislation is approved, the county would provide $125,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding and agree the plaza owner would put in $40,000 to construct a public road behind the plaza.

On the Public Safety Committee’s agenda that evening was legislation to authorize acceptance of a $50,000 grant to help reduce the county’s jail population, which they recommended for adoption. Summit County was one of 20 jurisdictions in the county to receive the Safety and Justice Challenge Grant from the MacArthur Foundation, which does not require any matching funds, according to Lori Pesci, spokesperson for the county’s Division of Public Safety.

The plan is to implement a felony summons program to have people who are charged with nonviolent, low-level felony offenses remain out of jail while awaiting trial, freeing up bed space, she said.

Council will next meet March 20 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, located at 175 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

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