by Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune
---- — PERU — Miami County employees won’t receive a 2 percent raise next year after county department heads couldn’t find enough cuts in their budgets to fund the increase.
The Miami County Council Tuesday removed the pay raises from the 2014 budget, which had already been sent to the state for final approval.
County commissioners met with department heads over the last month to try to find ways to trim back spending. Commissioner Josh Francis said most departments didn’t have any money to cut.
“We weren’t able to get anywhere close to the cuts we needed to pay for this raise,” he said. “Unfortunately, our recommendation is not to have a 2 percent increase. If we do, we’ll be overspending.”
That didn’t stop Steve McAuliffe, District 4 councilman, and Craig Boyer, at-large councilman, from making a motion to keep the 2 percent pay raise and freeze in next year’s personnel budget at 2013 rates.
Francis said if the motion passed, it would drive the county into debt.
“If this motion is approved, we’ll be operating in the red in 2014,” he said. “I don’t understand why you would want to do that … We’re going to have to end up laying off a bunch of people because we’re not going to be able to pay them.”
Council President Ralph Duckwall, District 2, also slammed the motion.
“Let’s get serious about this and not make these silly motions that don’t take into consideration all the time we’ve spent talking to department heads to make these cuts,” he said.
The council voted down the motion, with McAuliffe and Boyer voting to approve.
The council then proceeded to remove the 2 percent raise from each department budget.
The budget sent to the state for final approval, however, includes the increase.
Besides removing the pay raises, the council also approved around $60,000 in additional cuts, which in total trimmed nearly $140,000 from next year’s budget.
Although employees didn’t receive a raise, council members voted to approve a change in pay for some elected officials.
The auditor, assessor, clerk, treasurer and recorder had previously all made $39,000.
Now, the auditor will earn $41,500; assessor, $40,500; clerk, $40,500; and treasurer, $40,000. The recorder will continue to make $39,000.
Commissioners made the suggestion after comparing Miami County’s salaries with 18 other counties with similar populations.
Francis said Miami County is one of only two that pays all its elected officials the same rate.
“All the other counties understand that there’s a difference in responsibilities, and the pay should be based according to those responsibilities,” he said. “This puts us right in line with what the other counties are doing.”