Mahoning commissioners defend raises, bonuses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Just one day after Mahoning County’s new quarter-percent sales tax increase took effect, Mahoning County Commissioners said Thursday they are tired of all the criticism they have been hearing in the news and on social media about money being wasted on employee raises and bonuses.

“It never ceases to amaze me how we eat our own in the county,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler said.

Commissioner Carol Righetti agreed.

“I take offense to the crap that I am reading. That is not correct. It is not what we need to see,” she said.

Commissioners complained about the controversy that erupted over payments made to employees over the past five years totaling more than $165,000.

“I can’t tell you how many decimal points under one percent of the total budget that is,” Ditzler said.

Administrators with the county’s Juvenile Justice Center defended the thousands budgeted for employees there in the form of 1 percent lump sum payments in January to offset what they claimed is an expected increase in deductibles for state retirement benefits.

“That was just put on to help cover the increase in case it was higher than anticipated,” Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick said.

“So if someone is making $25,000, you’re talking about $250. That is all it is to make sue we cover if the rate would rise,” Mahoning County Juvenile Court Administrator Atty. Anthony D’Apolito said.

However, when we checked with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, they said no increases are being considered this year. Still, officials stress any raises or bonuses made are within the budgets of the departments paying them and that critics should stop using this issue as an excuse to repeal the new sales tax.

“You know, you don’t hire people for the county to protect our kids, that deal with the developmentally disabled, deal with domestic violence, deal with juvenile justice, deal with those types of situations and hire $10 an hour people,” Ditzler said.

Sheriff Jerry Greene told the crowd at Thursday’s meeting that raises given to his deputies were court-ordered by an arbitrator and that he had no choice in the matter.

“The criminal justice sales tax, which is where all that money goes, don’t attack that because you are not happy with something going on somewhere else,” Greene said.

He also that the non-union supervisors in his department did not receive raises.

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