Butler County elected officials will be paid $3M next year: What to know about their raises

Some Butler County elected officials haven’t received raises in several years due to election laws that mandate against pay bumps mid-term, meaning a few will receive 10% percent increases next year.

Next year the elected officials in the county will collectively earn just over $3 million, and more than half is state-paid for judicial salaries.

Last year the legislature approved the pay hikes for county commissioners, auditors, clerks of court, coroners, engineers, recorders and treasurers. Those offices received 5 percent increases in 2016 and 2017. The judges, prosecutors and sheriffs also received 5 percent pay increases, but theirs were for four years, not two.

Adam Schwiebert, a policy analyst for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, said the legislature wanted to give parity between the justice system officials raises and the rest of the elected county officials.

“Ultimately everyone gets four years at 5 percent, it just took a little longer,” he said last year when the new raises took effect.

A 1.75 percent cost of living bump was also given to all elected officials through 2028.

Because of the election cycles Commissioner Cindy Carpenter received a salary hike up to $93,565 last year and next year her pay elevates another 5% to $95,202. Commissioners Don Dixon and T.C. Rogers had to wait for their raises because elected officials can’t receive pay increases mid-term. All three will earn $95,202 next year.

Dixon and Rogers will start their new terms in January, as they are running unopposed in the November election.

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Dixon told the Journal-News he thought he was already making a fair wage at $84,866.

“I think being an elected official is not something you do for a career,” Dixon said. “I don’t believe you do it for the money. And if you’re in it for just the payroll and the money you’re in it for the wrong reason. I was satisfied with what we had and it seems to me we ought to be tightening the budget everywhere.”

County Treasurer Nancy Nix won’t receive her pay increase to $84,440 until next September. Treasurers' terms don’t officially start until tax collections for the year are complete. She said she took a voluntary pay cut for a few years during the Great Recession.

“Back when we had the financial crisis I took a 5% pay cut because my staff, they were cutting their hours and no other elected officials did,” she said, adding that if finances next year turn really sour she would do it again, if others follow suit.

The commissioners had predicted a $20 million general fund plummet this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but in the first nine months of this year revenues have only dropped by $5.1 million.

County Recorder Danny Crank earns the lowest pay of all the elected officials with a new salary of $80,714 starting next year. During his budget hearing on Monday, Crank fought for pay increases for his staff, in light of the aggregate 7.4% budget cuts the commissioners requested.

“The increase that I’m getting, can’t help it, it’s there,” Crank said. “So are you asking me to lay a person off so I can get my increase? Is that what you’re asking me to do? I’m asking for $10,900 for pay increases for my employees."

As finances have looked better, the commissioners have said they will look at budget requests on a case-by-case basis and not just lop 7.4% off across the board with no regard to individual circumstances.

The pay rates are based on the population of a county and Butler falls in the 200,001 to 400,000 category. With the census going on the midst of the pandemic it is doubtful the county will climb to the next bracket where the commissioners would have been paid $107,692.

The Common Please Court judges make the most money with salaries of $152,811 next year but the county only pays $14,000 of that amount. Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser is the next highest paid at $145,603 next year. He said with his close involvement in every aspect of his office, he believes he gives the taxpayers' their money’s worth.

“I didn’t ask the legislature to give Mike Gmoser a raise,” he said. “I’m happy that they did. I appreciate it. I get that the money is coming from the taxpayers, to do the job that I do and I want them to know I’m living up to the obligation of using the money the pay me to live well and bring the dignity and respect to this office."

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