Sheriff’s office workers due raises

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners are expected to approve a new three-year contract with sheriff’s employees that includes an initial 2.5 percent pay raise but requires they pay a higher percentage of their health insurance premium.

The proposed contract was submitted for commissioners’ consideration at Wednesday’s board meeting, and they will take a week to review the document before deciding whether to sign off on it at the March 27 meeting.

Jeremy Iosue, who represented county Sheriff Ray Stone in negotiations with his union employees, told commissioners the contract grants deputies and dispatchers a 2.5 percent pay raise, retroactive to Jan. 1, and any pay increases in 2014 and 2015 are subject to further negotiations.

Sheriff’s employees have gone without a pay raise two of the past three years. “That’s fairly typical (around Ohio),” Iosue said.

The 24 employees will also begin paying 10 percent of their monthly insurance premiums, up from 9 percent, with the issue also to be reopened for negotiations in 2014 and 2015.

Iosue said he has sheriffs whose employees are paying as much as 20 percent of the monthly insurance premiums, and the average for state workers is about 15 percent. Commissioner Mike Halleck noted the 10 percent is in line with what other county employees are or will be paying.

The vote among sheriff’s employees was 17-7 in favor of the contract. “That (insurance) ended up being a sticking point,” Iosue said.

There were no other changes, except two minor grievances over individual deputy compensation issues were resolved as part of the new contract, he said.

Stone was absent from the meeting, but Halleck said he was glad they had not negotiated away the grievance that involves him and county Republican Party Chairman David Johnson.

The 2011 grievance was filed after the pair showed up at the county jail to post bond for a friend who had been arrested for failing to pay a traffic-offense fine. Halleck and Johnson accompanied their friend from the jail to the sheriff’s office to complete the paperwork for his release, but the grievance alleges a deputy should have escorted the released inmate.

Halleck disputes this, saying the person had already been officially released from jail when they accompanied him to the sheriff’s office to complete the paperwork, and he believes the sheriff can win this grievance.

In other action at the meeting, commissioners awarded a contract to Waugh Excavating to serve as the contractor for a sewer extension project in Perry Township. Waugh was lowest bidder, at $248,838.