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Raises for county workers to cost $79K

More than 200 Clark County employees will get a pay hike this year.

County commissioners unanimously approved 1 percent raises Tuesday for 43 non-union Job and Family Services of Clark County employees. And because of a clause in a 2011 contract, 168 JFS union workers also will receive the raise.

The raises are effective Feb. 10 and will cost nearly $79,000.

Commissioners John Detrick, Rick Lohnes and David Hartley said the pay increases reflect that the JFS staff has dropped by a third in the past decade, but their workload continues to climb.

“They went from about 300 to 200 employees in 10 years. We felt like they deserved a little thank you for all their hard work. They’re doing so much more with less and we should try to give them an incentive for their work ethic,” Detrick said.

The raises come a week after county commissioners approved a $163 million budget, as well as a 40 cent per hour raise for the county’s 230 non-union employees.

Job and Family Services employees are covered under the agency’s $33.5 million budget, of which nearly $57,000 will pay for the union worker wage increases and nearly $22,000 goes to the non-union raises.

JFS Assistant Director Kerry Pedraza called the pay increase a boon for employees who have been asked to do more with less.

“It certainly recognizes the tremendous amount of work our staff has done over the past year over extremely difficult circumstances … There has been a considerable number of changes mandated by the state that requires them to use new or different processes,” Pedraza said.

JFS union members are a part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council, Local 1939.

County commissioners unanimously approved 1 percent pay increases and a 5 percent increase to the maximum pay ranges for the union last year as part of a wage re-opener negotiated with AFSCME.

Union members also received 1.5 percent raises in 2008 and 2010, but went without a pay increase in 2011.

Commissioners said the workload for JFS workers could increase this year if the state expands Medicaid, which would fulfill an option under the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage to adults living at up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Lohnes and Hartley said JFS workers could get slammed for a couple years if Medicaid is expanded.

“With what’s coming down the pike, those folks are going to earn every dime,” Lohnes said.

Hartley said JFS doesn’t have the staff for a heavier workload, but says he hopes the pay raises are seen as a show of support from commissioners.

“We’ve taken our employees for granted for too long,” Hartley said. “If they expand Medicaid I would hope the state would consider helping them out more than they’re doing.”

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