Butler County commissioners award nearly $350K in raises

The Butler County commissioners awarded merit raises for the 137 non-union employees under their control, noting the budget can handle the nearly $342,000 in raises and lump sum payments.

The commissioners for several years have operated with a two-part performance pay formula that calls for pay hikes in the 1 to 3 percent range added to an employee’s base pay and another 1 to 3 percent available in quarterly lump sum payments. The cost for the percentage increases is $127,004, and lump sums will cost $214,649.

The county budgeted $389,883, including benefits, for performance pay raises this year and County Administrator Judi Boyko said they awarded about 97% of the money.

“This demonstrates a lower expense than if across the board 2% increases were granted to every employee,” she told the commissioners last week.

The commissioners set a 2 percent pool of money from a given department’s total payroll for eligible, non-union employees for the base increases and an equal amount for the lump sum incentive bonuses.

Employees at the top of their pay range cannot receive more than a 4% total lump sum, and 27 people received the top amount. Development Director David Fehr was one of them, receiving the largest allocation at $5,000. There were five people, including Job and Family Services Assistant Director Shannon Glendon, who received a 3% bump on her base and an equal percentage in lump sum.

Before the commissioners instituted the pay-for-performance plan in 2016, large raises — some as high as 60 percent — were commonplace and the county budget could not sustain the expense. Mass layoffs during the Great Recession were necessary.

The county’s unions balked at the plan in the beginning, leery that the system would unfairly compensate them but most if not all have espoused the two-plus-two plan. Commissioner Cindy Carpenter voted in favor of the plan four years ago and the raise distribution last week, but she told the Journal-News she wants to revisit how the system operates, “is it fairly being allocated.”

“I am comfortable with that and I think they deserve it,” Carpenter said of the expenditure in these uncertain pandemic times and later voiced her concerns about the performance plan because of the finite pool of money each department receives. “When a higher paid employee gets 3% under any scenario that means those people at lower entry level positions may be getting less.”

At the outset of the pandemic officials were predicting a possible $20 million general fund shortfall after the economy skidded to a halt. All office holders and department heads were asked to cut 4.7% collectively from their budgets for this year and next. Raises were potentially on the commissioners’ chopping block.

Officials are estimating total general fund revenues will be only $5.6 million less than last year. They have budgeted $107 million in expenses against total revenues of $116.8 million and expect a $71.6 million carryover.

“We were always holding back because we were anticipating a bigger downturn than what we’ve had,” Commissioner Don Dixon said. “It still falls well within our financial guidelines of where we want to be.”

Boyko is not on the list of employees receiving a raise this year. The commissioners have traditionally addressed pay increases for their administrator separately in the spring, but she hasn’t received an pay increases at all. She was hired in March 2019 at an annual salary of $172,000.

Dixon said they will rectify that situation because “she has done an excellent job.”

“It was partly the confusion of the whole year, ups and downs and ins and outs,” Dixon said. “It’s like you’re a contractor, you’re really covered up and you’re trying to take care of everybody else’s stuff but your own. It just got by us really, we’ll take care of it this year.”

Butler County raises

  • Approximately 62% or $66.6 million of the county’s general fund budget is consumed with personnel costs including salaries and benefits for union and non-union employees.
  • The commissioners approved almost $350,000 for raises for its non-union employees in 2021.
  • 137 commissioners’ employees received raises.

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