Lawmakers raised pay for county, township officials

LISBON — State officeholders and legislators are not the only elected officials who will benefit from pay raise legislation passed in the last days of the 2017-2018 session of the Ohio General Assembly.

The legislation passed by Ohio House and Senate in December also granted pay raises to county and township officials as well. The bill was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich during the waning days of his term, but the legislature had enough votes to override the veto.

In addition to granting pay raises to state officeholders and legislators, the bill provides for 5 percent pay raises in 2019 and 2020 to county auditors, clerks of courts, county commissioners, coroners, engineers, recorders and treasurers. These officeholders will also receive 1.75 percent annual cost-of-living (COLA) increases in year 2021 through 2028.

The county sheriff, prosecutor and judges were already scheduled to receive receive pay raises this year based on legislation passed in 2015 that also granted the same pay raises to the other county officeholders, but only through 2017. Under the new pay raise bill, county sheriffs, prosecutors and judges will receive 1.75 percent annual COLA increases in year 2020 through 2028.

The four county elections board members were also granted 1.75 percent COLA increases in 2019 through 2028.

The pay of county officeholders varies depending on the county’s population.

Following is the breakdown for Columbiana County officeholders receiving the 5 percent raises, and their salaries starting in 2019:

Auditor: $88,853.

Treasurer: $70,901.

Clerk of Courts: $70,901. The clerk also receives an additional $8,000 in pay from the state.

Recorder: $66,253.

Commissioners: $75,963.

Engineer: $110,198 (without a private practice). The engineer also receives an additional $23,798 from commissioners for serving as county sanitary engineer.

Coroner: $59,281 (with a private practice).

Following are the 2019 salaries of those Columbiana County officials receiving COLA increases.

Prosecutor: $140,638.

Sheriff: $102,737, which includes $11,415 received from the state.

Judges: $140,513 for common pleas court judges and $132,134 for municipal court judges. The state pays a portion of these salaries and for all of the increases.

Elections Board: $10,751 each.

Township trustees and fiscal officers, who last received pay raises in 2017, will also get annual 1.75 percent COLA increases starting this year through 2028.

Their compensation is based on the township’s budget, and the larger the budget the more the trustees and fiscal officers are paid. According to a 2016 news story, trustees’ pay at the time ranged from about $9,360 to $13,612, with the average being $14,038. Pay for the 18 fiscal officers ranged from $14,038 to $23,396, with the average being $17,935.

The pay raises were included in a bill that provides health care benefits for widows and children of police and firefighters who died in the line of duty. State Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, voted for the bill, which will increase his base pay from $60,584 to $63,007 this year and $67,493 in 2021.

“It was with much consideration I voted for this bill. It was the right thing to do and, I believe, the right time to do it,” said Ginter, who was re-elected in 2018 to a third term.

Ginter pointed out legislator pay was last increased in 2000. “At some point legislators had to bite the bullet and make an adjustment. I believe this was the appropriate time and it was done in a modest manner” by spreading the increases out over the course of years, he said.

He also pointed out the increases for legislators did not keep pace with cost the COLA rate over the past 10 years.