NEW CASTLE —
Lawrence County government employees are all getting raises this year.
The county salary board unanimously approved 3 percent pay hikes for all non-union and salaried employees.
All county employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 2902 will receive raises of 3 percent or $500, whichever is higher, for 2013.
And all employees of the Construction and General Laborers Union Local 964 will receive straight 3 percent wage increases.
All elected officials in the county will receive raises of 1.8 percent, based on the Consumer Price Index. The elected officials’ raises are all pre-approved by a county ordinance which is in place, Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler explained.
Voting at Monday’s board meeting were the three commissioners — Vogler, Steve Craig and Bob Del Signore — and Controller David Gettings.
President Judge Dominick Motto cast the fifth vote for matters concerning the courts.
The board also approved various position and wage changes in various departments. The changes, by department, are:
Creating a temporary full-time confidential secretary position at $26,002, without benefits.
Motto explained a judge’s secretary is off on extended medical leave and someone from court administration is filling in. The new position would fill the open job in court administration.
“The plan is to leave that person with the judge and put the new person in the slot where she was,” he said. When the employee returns from sick leave, “we’ll put everybody back” and the temporary position will end.
Creating a temporary probation officer position at $34,932, without benefits, while another person is off and not receiving pay.
Abolishing a part-time judicial aide position and created a full-time position at $29,991 plus benefits. The vote was 4-1 with Vogler opposed.
Nicholson explained her office is bogged down with traffic violations and her employees must keep track of timeliness of fines and tracking accounts and court dates.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of payment schedules,” she said.
She has three full-time and one-part time employees and “traffic is where the money is,” she said, noting her office annually collects the most money in traffic fines among the five district judges.
An exception was the office of Scott McGrath last year, because of an Interstate 376 construction project in his jurisdiction that created more traffic citations.
According to a list of income collected by each judge’s office in 2012, McGrath’s office collected $521,125, Nicholson’s collected $496,595, Jerry Cartwright’s, $411,270; David Rishel’s, $392,150 and Melissa Amodie’s $272,125.
Nicholson pointed out that one judge whose office is always at the bottom of the list for income has more staff than her office.
That is Amodie’s court, which sees a larger load of criminal cases.
Nicholson’s list shows she has the highest number of cases overall each year, including 2012.
Nicholson said she had requested the full-time position in her budget this year, and it amounts to $5,510 more than the part-time position, plus the cost of benefits.
Vogler pointed out other departments have similar situations where offices with part-time employees would feel justified in making them full time.
The county adopted a tight budget this year without a tax increase and “I’m very concerned about how we will be able to replicate that a year from now,” he said, adding he would be voting against the position change.
Readjusting the salary structure of the 12 full-time and six part-time communications dispatchers and the four full-time supervisors. The amount would not exceed the 3 percent allocated for raises this year, Brian Melcer, public safety director, said. The vote was 4-0.
Creating two full-time court-related specialists and abolishing two part-time positions of paralegal and secretary. The vote was 3-1 with Vogler opposed to both moves. Craig, Gettings and Del Signore voted yes.
“Every time they give the DA a new attorney, my client numbers grow exponentially,” public defender Larry Keith explained. The total salary increases for both positions amounts to $11,000, Keith said. The substantial increase is in the benefits, because of the union rates, he said.
“My office doesn’t generate money, but I save the county money by the efficient running of my office,” he said, noting the judge has commended him for a quick and smooth movement of the trial lists.
“I don’t believe I will be able to keep up the success of 2012 unless I have my support staff in place,” he said.
Craig asked how many death penalty cases are coming up in the courts this year, and Keith responded there are four for certain, possibly five. He and assistant public defender Dennis Elisco are both certified to defend death penalty cases, which saves the county from having to hire someone from outside.
“We’ve put a budget together for this calendar year, and we don’t have a machine that prints money in this building,” Vogler told him, noting the money the county receives is from the taxpayers.
“Until we see more growth, revenues will stay fairly flat,” he said, adding he would not support the change in the positions.
NEW CASTLE —
Lawrence County government employees are all getting raises this year.
- TOP STORIES
Local couple credits low electric bills to solar panels
Unlike some county residents, Bob and Mary Ann Reiter chuckle when they get their electric bill. “Amount Due — $0.00” said their Jan. 30 bill, because the Hickory Township residents had a $137.22 credit.
In February, the credit was $125.63.
Extending school hours could make up for snow days
The New Castle Area School District is considering extending this year’s remaining school days by 20 minutes. That is a possibility being considered to make up required instructional time lost by snow days the district had to take this year.
Photos, Video, Story: Shenango homecoming queen Brittany Chieze considers herself ‘a pretty lucky girl’
Rochelle Chieze admits she panicked at first when she learned her daughter had been placed on Shenango High’s Homecoming ballot. “I started thinking about the germs from being around so many people and how tired this would make her,” Rochelle said. “Even though she was thrilled — we all were — I went back and forth. I thought maybe we should say no.”
Police arrest woman wanted in Florida
An East Side woman whose car was stopped by New Castle police is wanted on felony charges in Florida. New Castle police have charged Vivian Lynn King, 54, of 1819 E. Washington St., as a fugitive from justice.
Electric bill complaints keep growing
If your electric bill has skyrocketed, it might help to complain to your electric supplier. One local resident actually received some money back from Pennsylvania Gas and Electric after she had called to express her shock at the size of her electric bill.
AFSCME, county to continue contract talks
A courthouse labor union and Lawrence County government officials are returning to the bargaining table to iron out a contract.
Jail workers get new positions, more pay
New job titles have been created — and pay hikes granted — for three Lawrence County jail employees. At a special meeting Monday, the Lawrence County Salary Board eliminated the positions of two non-union recordkeepers and a secretary at the jail.
Clutch coach: Intense practices, focus on film and lessons learned from local legends all help Blundo mold ’Canes into a history-making program
It all starts at the top. Like any quality organization, a foundation of success is built through strong leadership. That’s evident with the New Castle High boys basketball program.
New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call
When a New Castle school district employee is placed on administrative leave, it typically is the superintendent’s decision. District solicitor Charles Sapienza said in an email last week that the district has no policy governing when and why an employee is placed on administrative leave or whether he or she should be paid during that leave.
East Side man dies in fire
An East Side man died after a fire destroyed his house Thursday night. Edwin Sheffield Lewis, 61, was found in an upstairs bedroom in the front of the house at 761 Lathrop St.
- More TOP STORIES Headlines
- Local couple credits low electric bills to solar panels