The Salary Board led by the County Commissioners has decided for the third year in a row that the county’s nonunion employees will not be receiving pay raises next year, citing the county’s dire financial situation. Union employees have received raises for the past two years and will continue to see increases again in 2018 as part of negotiated labor contracts.
Also receiving pay raises for the past two years — and again next year — are each of the county’s elected officials, including the three Commissioners and all “row officials” including Treasurer, Sheriff, Prothonotary, Controller, Coroner, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills and Clerk of Courts.
The Beaver Countian asked about the pay raises for elected officials during the Commissioners’ public work session last week.
“We have a cost of living increase that was imposed,” said Commissioner Sandie Egley.
“By resolution, the elected officials in Beaver County get a cost of living increase based upon a consumer price index,” explained Assistant County Solicitor Nate Morgan.
Solicitor Garen Fedeles said the current Board of Commissioners could pass a new resolution negating the prior one that set automatic raises, but noted, “it wouldn’t be effective until after their term is done.”
The County’s Law Department has said Commissioners are prohibited by law from passing any resolutions that would affect their own salaries for the current term of office.
The Beaver Countian did a search of county record scans and located a resolution from December 1997 establishing permanent cost-of-living increases for the county’s elected officials based on the Consumer Price Index. The ordinance was passed unanimously by then-Commissioners Bea Schulte, Nancy Loxley, and Daniel Donatella.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index rose by 2% over the current fiscal year ending in October, meaning the county’s elected officials will be receiving 2% pay raises next year. Officials received raises of 1.6% this year.
The only elected official exempted from the county ordinance is the District Attorney, whose yearly salary is set by the Pennsylvania Legislature to be $1,000 less than the salary of a Common Pleas Judge — every district attorney in all 67 counties in the state earn the same wage. The salaries of Common Pleas Judges are set by the state each year similarly based on the Consumer Price Index.
County officials estimate that only approximately 100 out of the county’s 800 employees have been affected by the Commissioners’ pay freeze for nonunion employees over the past two years. County Controller David Rossi made a motion to give raises to the county’s nonunion employees during a meeting of the Salary Board earlier this month, but failed to see the motion seconded.
From The Resolution:
That effective January 1, 1997, and each January 1, thereafter, the County of Beaver will increase the base compensation (defined as gross pay less any payments for additional duties) of all Elected Officials, except the District Attorney and County Commissioners, by the percentage change in the 1992-1984 Consumer Price Index – US all City average – C.P.I.-U, as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, from October of the present year over October of the previous year rounded to the nearest one-tenth percent (.05 and over rounds to .1).
The Office of County Commissioner will not receive this increase during their present term of office but the newly elected Board of County Commissioners base pay will be increated by the percentage change in the October, 1996, index over the October, 1999, index and will be effective on January 1, 2000.
It is not intended, by this Resolution, to decrease any Elected Officials’ salary should the change in the Consumer Price Index go down.