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Three commissioners oppose 8 percent pay hike

February 27, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

A proposal to give all Washington County government employees an 8 percent pay hike appears doomed.

Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis recommended the pay hike and suggested the commissioners pay the $2 million annual cost by not funding the employee pension plan for the next two years.

But in a telephone survey, Commissioners Paul L. Swartz, William J. Wivell, and John L. Schnebly say they will probably vote against the proposal.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook could not be reached for comment Friday.

Wivell said he could not support an 8 percent raise for all employees and would prefer an increase around 4 percent. That would still cost about $1 million annually, he added.

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However, he said, he would support a larger increase for some of the more specialized fields - such as the Sheriff's Department - where there is more turnover.

Schnebly is skeptical about whether the county can afford an 8 percent increase.

"To go for 8 percent would be a stretch," he said.

Schnebly said he wants to look more carefully at the attrition rate information provided by Davis. In a presentation to the commissioners Feb. 18, Davis said the rate of turnover of both part-time and full-time jobs has been increasing in recent years.

Wivell, Swartz and Schnebly said they are also concerned about Davis' plan to pay for the raises, both because the proposal is financially risky and is only a short-term fix. They are also concerned about how the plan would be affected by economic problems.

Davis wants to pay the $2 million annual cost of the proposed pay hike by not making its usual $1 million-a-year contribution to an employee pension plan for the next two budget years.

The county can do that because the plan's investments have done so well the past few years that the plan is in a far better funding position than projected, he said.

However, that only pays for the increase for one year, Wivell said. He, Schnebly and Swartz said they want to know how the county will pay for the raises in future years.

While only a temporary solution, Davis said, it is important to raise the salaries to prevent employees from leaving to go to other governments.

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