New Castle News

January 7, 2014

Salary board gives raises, creates positions

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County Salary Board created a few positions and gave most employees raises at its annual meeting Monday.

All county nonunion and management positions will receive 1 percent wage increases this year, with some exceptions where other wage adjustments were made.

The raises come on the heels of a 7 percent tax increase the commissioners approved Dec. 31 to help fund the $29.1 million county budget for this year.

For the average homeowner with an assessed property value of $78,000, the tax increase will mean an additional $36 in county taxes.

The Lawrence County jail bargaining unit, with more than 60 employees belonging to Construction and General Laborers Union Local 964, reached a three-year contract agreement with the county.

Those employees will receive no raises during the life of the contract but will get $500 bonuses in the second and third years, Controller David Gettings explained after the meeting. The bonuses will not be part of the base salaries.

However, employees of the court-related and court-appointed bargaining units of Construction and General Laborers Union Local 964, and those belonging to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2902 are still negotiating new agreements. Meanwhile, they are working under the terms of their previous contract, which expired Dec. 31.

Both unions have negotiating sessions scheduled with the county on Friday.

Commissioner Dan Vogler pointed out all county elected officials will receive 0.8 percent cost-of-living increases this year as determined by the Consumer Price Index.

All votes of the salary board were unanimous, either 5-0 or 4-0. The regular members are the three commissioners and the controller. Also, the elected row officers each have a vote for their respective departments.

Below are the new positions and wage adjustments by department. At Monday’s meeting, the board:

Courts

•Created the part-time position of jury coordinator at an annual pay of $15,000 plus benefits. The position is the result of the state allowing counties to eliminate the position of jury commissioner, Commissioner Dan Vogler explained, and most counties — including Lawrence — chose to do so.

Helen Jackson and Amy Shea had occupied those positions. However, there still is a need for a person to do the work, Vogler noted. The new position saves the county $25,556 over the jury commissioners pays.

•Increased the base salary of the assistant chief/intermediate punishment coordinator from $39,000 to $40,000 plus the 1 percent increase, effective Jan. 1.

President Judge Dominick Motto explained the person moving into that position from drug court coordinator would otherwise be taking a pay reduction. “It’s an increase of about $1,000, so it’s modest.”

District Attorney

•Increased the drug task force director’s salary from $33,000 to $50,000 plus the 1 percent pay increase for the current year. The position is occupied by Frank Drew.

District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa explained the position has been expanded and Drew now has more than double the responsibilities he had previously. He now oversees eight detectives, including seven narcotics agents.

The position also supervises and manages seven other officers in the county, as well as 24 police officers participating in the county’s drug task force, Lamancusa said.

•Created the non-union position of special projects coordinator at a pay of about $41,800, plus $8,000 in benefits for a single person. The position is being funded with a one-year $50,000 grant for this year from the Hoyt Foundation, Lamancusa said. The foundation has said that if the position is successful, it will provide the funds a second year. If the project becomes unfunded in the future, the position no longer will exist, according to a stipulation of the salary board.

Lamancusa said the job’s responsibilities will be threefold. The person hired will oversee, coordinate, foster new and manage existing neighborhood watch organizations throughout the county and will manage “Project Oasis,” a saturation patrol detail of the city of New Castle where narcotics officers concentrate on drug problems, dangerous individuals are arrested and code enforcement and public works concentrates their efforts to make sure properties are up to code. A third facet of the job will be to oversee a jail-to-jobs program to help those leaving jail get hired into jobs who normally would not be considered for them, Lamancusa said.

Lamancusa stressed the new position will have no cost to the county. He said the position will be advertised.

Children and Youth

•Created a second intake supervisor, a union position, at a pay designated by the union contract.

The position will be funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Gettings explained after the meeting that the state had required the county to create more case workers last year and also is paying for those. Those positions necessitate a need for another intake supervisor, he said.

Sheriff

•Adjusted the pay of the part-time screeners — those deputies who work security at the government center entrances. Two employees who had been earning $7.50 or minimum wage will be paid $8.50 per hour, and anyone making more than $8.50 per hour will receive the 1 percent increase granted to other county employees.

Sheriff Perry Quahliero explained the screeners making $7.50 were the only ones being paid minimum wage in the county and he has been having a hard time finding qualified applicants at that pay as the positions open.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)