County's on-again, off-again raises are on again

Posted at 2:57 AM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-03 02:57:45-05

CINCINNATI -- When January rolls around, some county workers will likely start the year with a raise for the first time in nearly a decade. 

Two commissioners announced Wednesday they will support giving raises to all county employees instead of waiting until July. That's all the votes needed to make the raises happen. 

How much county workers will see in their paycheck is still up for debate. Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican, said he supports a 1.5 percent merit increase for county employees. Meanwhile, Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, still wants employees to be eligible for a 3 percent increase. Monzel -- who has supported the idea of holding off on raises at the beginning of next year -- stayed mum on the issue Wednesday. 

Hartmann is the swing vote on the issue; Monzel has consistently stated he won't support full-year merit raises while Portune has pushed the issue in his budget proposals. 

Hartmann had initially called for the salary increases in his budget proposal last month. Then he told WCPO Insider he wasn't sure raises were a priority. On Monday, he said he wouldn't support a full-year increase for employees but, instead, a raise in the summer, a move that saves the county money because they don't have to pay extra for a full year.


Apparently so were county department bosses, some of who reached out to Hartmann after he announced Monday he wouldn't support full-year raises.

"(After) hearing some of the departments heads, I think what may make sense for employees is that we fund a 1.5 percent compensation adjustment," Hartmann said. "Let me thank the department heads for weighing in on that proposal."  

Some county workers fear the commission's decision to skip raises during the last nine years has fueled high turnover and created pay disparities for county workers. Some union employees, like sheriff deputies or social workers, have negotiated contracts that include raises over the past few years. Elected officials, like the auditor or prosecutor, have also given out raises to employees. Then there are people working for departments like Jobs and Family Services, which is entirely funded by state, local and levy dollars -- money the commissioners do not control -- that have also had to hold out on giving raises because the commissioners won't allow them.

Roughly 3,000 non-union employees work for the county and a 3 percent raise for all of them would cost about $2.1 million from the county's annual budget. 

Hartmann said Wednesday he wants to re-evaluate raises again in July to see if the county can afford to give a full 3 percent raise at that time.