Given “astronomical” property value increases Butler County Administrator Judi Boyko declined her $7,550 raise on Monday saying she doesn’t know how she could take a raise when so many people are struggling.
The commissioners were all set to give Boyko a 4% raise, which would have elevated her salary to $196,294 annually, but she declined the increase. She cited the looming 37% median property value hike that will produce crippling tax increases for many as her reason.
“I know this $8,000 increase is minimal when it comes to the 150,000 properties,” she said. “But I don’t know how I would receive this increase when there’ll be others that are struggling. Like I said, the $8,000 may be minimal to each property owner, but from my perspective it’s what I control.”
All other non-union employees under the commissioners’ direct control got their pay increases in February. Boyko receives her raises apart from the rest of the staff, last May she received a 5% pay increase or $8,987, bringing her total annual salary up to $188,743.
Commissioner Don Dixon said she deserved the raise.
“I don’t believe everyday citizens of Butler County understand how hard she does work and what she does do for their benefit,” he said.
“I know how hard you work, and it’s not just last year, it’s the five years. You’re the first one here and the last to leave. All the department heads work hard but you set an example for the rest of the team. I think it’s a very generous decline of a well deserved salary increase due to the economic issues...,” Dixon said.
“On my behalf, and I think on the taxpayers of Butler County ... I think they would say the same thing that they appreciate you being so sensitive and understanding where everybody is in terms of the economic world.”
Commissioner T.C. Rogers pointed out the commissioners and other elected officials — who are paid according to state statute — receive cost of living increases and noted Boyko could be making more money elsewhere. He tried to go forward with a vote to approve the raise, but Boyko stopped him.
He told the Journal-News “that was a very magnanimous gesture on her part.”
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter told the Journal-News she was surprised Boyko took away her own raise but said it was a good message to other county employees and others in the county, “because there’s some people that do resent she does make significantly more than they do.”
“I think it was very, very, very generous of her,” Carpenter said.
By comparison, Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith’s base pay is $226,244.
This is the second time Boyko has declined a raise because times were tough for many others. Sen. George Lang, who was a West Chester Twp. trustee back when the economy was in the tank in 2013, tried to give her a 2% bump, but she refused.
The three commissioners issued — although Carpenter didn’t sign it — a joint performance review of sorts, recommending the 4% pay hike. It ticked off numerous accomplishments including overseeing the closure of the Care Facility, the continued disbursement of $74.4 million in COVID-19 relief funds, Historic Courthouse restoration, the long awaited space utilization study and navigating all the post-pandemic economic challenges, to name a few.
The commissioners for several years have operated with a two-part performance pay formula that calls for pay hikes in the 1% to 3% range added to an employee’s base pay which they refer to as part A and another 1% to 3% percent available in lump sum payments they call part B. Combined the raises for the other employees totaled $443,803.
The commissioners hand-picked Boyko in 2019 and skipped her raise in 2020 because of the pandemic — she didn’t remind them they overlooked her — and they gave her a 4.5% increase in 2021.
Butler is the 7th largest county in the state and Boyko is responsible for a total county budget of $521 million, around 600 employees and 14 departments under the commissioners’ direct control and communicating and interacting with 15 other elected officials and seven independent boards.