County employees receive raise, original wage request not granted

LISBON – The three employees in the three-county solid waste management district will receive pay raises, just not the increases they originally requested.

Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle reported this week the district board of directors, which consist of commissioners from the three counties, agreed to provide 3 percent pay raises.

The decision came one month after Weigle reported that they and their fellow commissioners from Carroll and Harrison counties had balked at approving the original 2014 budget request submitted by Eric Matthews and Barbara Walton, co-administrators of the district, because it would have raised their salaries from $17 an hour to $20 an hour. Matthews also requested the pay of new administrative assistant Theresa Marteney also be increased, from $14 an hour to $20.

They argued the raises were needed to bring them up to what other solid waste district administrators and county employees with comparable responsibilities are earning. Weigle said at the time he and some of the other commissioners believed the proposed pay raises were excessive, to say the least, but were willing to consider smaller pay raises.

“Frankly, we were shocked and surprised,” he said.

The 3 percent increase will raise the co-directors’ salaries to $17.51 an hour, while Marteney’s hourly wage will increase to $14.42.

The board also scaled back the proposed 2014 budget, from $1.43 million originally requested, to $1 million, Weigle said. This will include funding for the district to proceed with the CHARM pilot project, which stands for Center for Hazrdous to Recycle Materials. This is a site that would be opened once or twice a week where household hazardous wastes can be dropped off instead of waiting for annual or semi-annual events hosted by the district.

Matthews originally proposed opening one CHARM site in each county, staffed with new two positions: a full-time employee making $20 an hour and a part-time worker earning $15.

While the board liked the concept, Weigle said they would rather undertake a pilot program using existing staff rather hiring two additional workers immediately.

“Rather than jump into it full force we decided to scale it back to see if it works before we put that kind of personnel into it,” he said.

The budget also sets aside funding for grants to help local police departments dispose of meth labs and for health departments and county health departments to police illegal dumps, and to assist Carroll County commissioners in closing their county landfill.

This in addition to the other services provided by the district, the most significant being a program consisting of maintaining the system of permanent Dumpster sites in the three county where residents can dispose of recyclable materials.

Weigle said the board may begin requiring the employees pay a portion of their monthly health insurance premiums after the costs tripled to $33,000 this year. “So we’re taking a look at that,” he said.