published Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Growth sparks pay raises

Like many workers since the financial implosion of 2007-2008, city and county government employees haven't had a raise in pay for three years. This year, they seem likely to get one. That's good for them. A pay increase is deserved, and it's another welcome sign of an emerging recovery from the sharpest economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression 80 years ago.

It's not clear yet how much of a raise the county government would provide to its 1,867 employees if county commissioners approve an increase. County Mayor Jim Coppinger hasn't proposed a figure, but county officials apparently expect to see a bump in revenue due to growth in the countywide property tax base, and some increase in local option sales taxes in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The city's proposal is more specific. Mayor Ron Littlefield has proposed to allocate $2.9 million for pay raises in the new fiscal year budget. Of that amount, about $1.3 million would be use to continue a plan of annual adjustments to the career salary ladders for sworn employees, those in the police and fire departments; and roughly $1.4 million would be used to fund a 3-percent across-the-board increase for the city's 755 civilian employees, and to fund additional lump-sum payments for lower paid employees in this group with salaries in the $20,000-to-$45,000 range.

The lump sum payments for lower-paid workers are intended to help offset the rising pay-gap between higher-and-lower workers that flat-percentage pay increases typically cause. That's not as calibrated as creation of a descending percentage increase for ascending wage scales would be, but it is a fair nod to city council members' concerns about the rising pay gap between higher- and lower-paid worker that is regularly fueled by flat-percentage increases for all employees.

The emerging turn-around in the city's and county's financial status is heartening. The city's operating budget for the new fiscal year, for example, is expected to be $209 million, up from $201 million budget for the current fiscal year. Part of that is due to general growth in the local option sales tax, and part is due to growth in property tax revenue from new development and rising home sales. City officials also expect to be able to add to the city's $33.8 million fund balance, a requisite for maintaining the city's AA+ credit rating.

County government's fiscal condition is similarly improved. Last year it eliminated 50 positions, due partly to lower revenue, and partly to excessive cash hoarding to build a whopping $85 million fund balance. County officials last year also moaned over the paper loss of roughly $10 million due to the expiration of the old city-county sales tax agreement, though the city spent that reclaimed money mainly to fund the budgets of the same agencies near the level previously provided by the county.

Regardless, the County Commission should be willing this year to step up to its countywide obligations for helping fund the vital civic agencies that it stiffed last year. It also should restore the full $3 million allocation for Erlanger's indigent care budget that was mandated under the act that established the Erlanger Hospital Authority. Last year the commission recklessly violated the mandate by cutting that funding in half. Given Erlanger's tenuous fiscal condition and the needs of other non-profit agencies that provide critical public services, county leaders would better serve the county's taxpayers by properly funding vital services.

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fairmon said...

Why an increase? Compare the current comp package for like work in the labor supply area. A valid comparison would indicate the need to reduce comp for some and still be in the upper 10% of those in the private sector doing like work. People need to know what the current future unfunded liabilities are for pensions and health care.

June 3, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.
timbo said...

What we need is a 30% cut back in county employment. During the 90's and 2000's the county had stagnant population growth but did nothing to cut back on people or benefits. While the rest of us were struggling county/city workers had great benefits and job security. We spend too much money in this county on government. I did a study 5 years ago that showed that Hamilton County was the second most expensive per ca pita county in the state(For you Harry, per ca pita means per resident in the total population). Before anyone thinks to dispute that, you only have to take the total budget divided by the population. Even a liberal could figure that out.

The point here is we don't need an increase in spending, we need a decrease. These Rino republicans running the county haven't done much to REDUCE county spending. To their credit they have held the line on a property tax increase but they have used other sneaky fees and things like the personalty tax to increase revenue. After the November election the county mayor, with a new four year term, will say how badly we need to increase taxes and the other Rinos will fall right in line so get ready to be screwed.

Does anyone wonder why if real estate values went down that your taxes stayed the same? Because the corrupt politicians (democrat and republicans) don't want to cut services. If revenue went down when you property values went down they would have to increase the tax rate or cut spending with lay-offs. They are so dishonest it makes my head hurt.

We don't have a "one party is corrupt and the other is good" problem. We have a problem that they all are one big happy dysfunctional family.

June 3, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.
fairmon said...

With the exception of the Fire and Police most city and county departments are over paid, over staffed and under worked. With some exceptions you can observe the most inefficient, discourteous folks you will encounter in any business interacting with the public. We, the tax payers just happen to be paying these to be that way. The city and county pays for studies and consultants out the yazoo but never one that specializes in analyzing work processes, staffing, duplications and improvement opportunities. Has there ever been a financial audit by an independent auditing firm with a report to the stake holders (tax payers)?

June 4, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.
mymy said...

Harp: Thumbs up. Just more "cow-pie". The $'s misspent is sickening.

June 4, 2012 at 7:06 a.m.
timbo said...

harp3339....I think I agree with you about the Fire and Police. They have earned a raise.

June 4, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
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