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Summit County Council Indicates It Will Restore Staffers' Pay Raises

The Summit County Council on Wednesday gave an informal nod to two compensation proposals for its staff.


One of them stems from last year’s COVID-19 belt-tightening. The second relates to staffing challenges the county is facing this year.


Summit County Chief Financial Officer Matt Leavitt and Human Resources Director David Warnock recalled that last year, scheduled merit increases went out to less than a third of staff before the payments were suspended in March.


They propose restoring the 3% merit increases to the employees who missed out. The cost there is about $529,000.


The second proposal, as Warnock explained, is a 4% cost-of-living raise for all employees, costing about $927,000. Warnock said the county, like many other employers across the nation, is facing challenges in retaining and finding staff.


“In some cases, applicants that we have made offers to have declined because of the housing market, or they declined it because their current employer has offered them an alternative wage to what we’ve offered them, or they found another job that pays more,” he said. “So we’re feeling this labor shortage and feel that we need to increase our salaries in order to hire, retain, recruit some candidates for our positions. We’re noticing it’s taking longer to fill our positions.”


Councilor Glenn Wright said the council also heard that the county is seeing an increase in turnover – 17% in 2020.


“That is not a sustainable number,” he said. “Having that much turnover you have to go out and recruit people at a higher salary to fill those jobs. We are much better off trying to sustain our staff. It’s good for the staff, it’s better to sustain the staff. Really, the ideal is to have people progress through the system, eventually retire, and replace the retiree with a newbie in the bottom of the salary scale. And I think that is both good for employees and it’s good for our budget.”


The total cost for both measures comes to about $1.45 million.


County manager Tom Fisher is scheduled to come back to the council with a 2021 budget amendment.


Wright said some of the funding is expected to come out of the federal American Rescue Plan.


“Fortunately, we cut the budget last year around this time, when Covid hit, and we were probably conservative,” he said. “So tax revenues, fortunately, have picked up faster than we anticipated, perhaps because we’re getting more vaccinations in people and people are out doing things.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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