State OBM explains the danger of county raises
by John Stegeman Sports Editor
PDT Staff Writer
Sharon Hanrahan, Financial Planning Administrator for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, said Friday she has already re-drafted a letter that she drafted to Scioto County Juvenile/Probate Judge James Kirsch, and is awaiting more input on the letter expressing disappointment with recent raises given by Kirsch — while the county is attempting to recover from fiscal emergency status designated by the Auditor of State’s office.
“I’m waiting for a little bit more feedback, and then at a very soon point, I’m estimating on Monday, I’m going to go on and send it out in the mail to Judge Kirsch,” Hanrahan said.
At a recent meeting of the Scioto County Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, a motion was made to have Hanrahan, who conducts monthly meetings in Portsmouth, send a letter dealing with that issue.
In the letter draft Hanrahan wrote - “While the Commission has no right, nor wants the right to manage your office or exert what might appear to be undue influence upon your actions, we are concerned that your actions in this regard will present an adverse effect on county finances in the future. The long term sustainability of the special funds that will be used to pay for your increased salary commitments is uncertain, and should they become insufficient, either the general fund will be forced to pick up the costs, or employment numbers will need to be reduced. Neither of these options is desirable.”
Hanrahan said many county employees had already gone several years without increases even before the fiscal emergency status, and had not had raises since the designation, and she said that situation will continue to exist.
“Basically what the other departments are doing is, they are living within the bottom line, and living within the recovery plan,” Hanrahan said Friday morning. “So if they have the opportunity to make their own management decisions, if they have an opening, they may decide not to fill it, and have the other existing employees work to cover that hole, and they might get a small adjustment in salary. But the bottom line is the county has been doing fantastically, and it has always been a tenuous thing. But as we said at the last meeting, the judges have been really great with this, and Judge Kirsch in particular. But right now it (the raises) puts them in a real bad position.”
If the department would run out of money, would the cost of the raises fall on the General Fund?
“Sure, it would,” Hanrahan said. “Think about it from a morale issue.”
And she said it is not unusual that it could occur. Hanrahan said she has other cities that have gone through the same thing.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com
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