Commissioners approve new contract with Children Services workers

LISBON — The group of people who investigate child abuse and neglect have a new contract.

Columbiana County commissioners this week approved a new three-year contract with the union representing the workers in the Children Services division of the county Department of Job and Family Services.

Negotiated and recommended for approval by JFS Executive Director Eileen Dray-Bardon, the contract grants the employees annual pay raises of 3 percent this year and 2.5 percent each in 2018 and 2019. This raises the starting wage to $15.85 an hour for case workers, who are required to have a college degree, and to $12.86 per hour for clerical staff.

The workers will continue to pay 10 percent of the cost of their monthly health insurance premiums, the same as other county general fund employees, but the amount of compensatory time they can accumulate was reduced from 120 hours to 80 hours. Dray-Bardon said the only other major change was with the holiday schedule, with the workers giving up four hours personal leave in exchange for getting off work at noon on Christmas Eve.

The 24 Children Services employees were represented by the Glass, Molders, Plastic Workers & Allied Workers International Union, and Dray-Bardon said negotiations only took two days. She said the pay raises were reasonable and needed to help retain staff.

The raises will cost the JFS about $30,000 the first year. The contract expires Sept. 30, 2020.

In other action at this week’s board meeting, commissioners held a required public hearing on a road closing petition filed by Dan Curnutte to close an unused/never maintained portion of Bloomfield Avenue, as well as Chardon Avenue, in St. Clair Township.

Curnutte recently learned a portion of his property lies on an unused section of Bloomfield Avenue that exists only on paper when the adjoining property owned by the East Liverpool CIC was surveyed for the new youth baseball complex last year. A portion of his property was also found to be on CIC property and the CIC agreed to deed him the 1.3 acres, which includes a lake, but no such paperwork was produced.

“So you’re just trying to clear this up so your home sits on the property bought?” Commissioner Mike Halleck asked.

Curnutte also wants Chardon Avenue to the north of his property to also be closed. This road was never open to traffic or maintained and only officially exists on paper.

No one showed up for the hearing except for Curnutte and his attorney, Rich Hoppel. Commissioners took the matter under advisement and will have the application reviewed by the county prosecutor’s office before making a decision.