Thursday, September 13, 2012


On Tuesday of this week the Stark County commissioners revived an issue that is a sore point with many who work in the private sector, namely; the proliferation of public employees who retire from their public jobs and then get immediately rehired to do the very same job often at the same wage and benefits package.

The major loser in these "inside jobs" is the Stark County taxpaying public, in that:
  • retire/rehire excludes the Stark County public from having the opportunity to secure these jobs,
  • is costly to taxpayers because the rehires are often rehired at their retirement salary plus benefits because in the cozy relationship between the hiring authority and the employee there is no "arms length" and competitive negotiating going on.
The SCPR has done quite a number of blogs on the issue.  Here are some of them:
  • in the world of education (LINK1) (LINK2),
  • in the realm of elective public officials retiring and then running for the same office to serve once again even after retiring (LINK1) (LINK2),
  • employees that retire and then get immediately rehire in the same capacity (e.g. sheriff department chief deputies McDonald and Perez) [LINK]),
And, of course, there is an ongoing brouhaha in Canton in which there are allegations that some 30 city employees retired and rehired resulting in their dismissal by the Healy administration in mid-January of this year.

The alleged missteps could cost Canton taxpayers $1 million in a city that is projecting a $3.7 million deficit for 2013.

As far as the SCPR is concerned it is welcome news that the commissioners are reviewing county policy on the retire/rehire question.  Unfortunately, even if they adopt what The Report believes to be a "makes sense" policy, it only affects those county employees under the direct authority of the commissioners.

Here is the full text of the commissioners' proposal (which is a work-in-progress):
The Board of Stark County Commissioners will not rehire an [employee] who retires from public service, except in extraordinary circumstances as outlined below.
While the Board recognizes and commends longtime {employees] for their service to the community, it also recognizes that public service positions that become vacant should provide opportunities to all members of the public who are not the previous holders of that position.  This is both a common sense conclusion and recognition of public expectations.
An extraordinary exception may be made, however, when the hiring authority believes it is in the public's best interest to rehire an employee who provides unparalleled expertise and experience without which service to the public would be greatly diminished.  These are rare occasions and a decision to make such an extraordinary rehire will be done only after open discussion, resulting in action taken in an open public meeting.
 The Board of Stark County Commissioners adopts this retire/rehire policy for all hiring within its hiring authority, and urges all departments and agencies of County [sic] government to adopt the same policy.
Though the commissioners measure would not affect employees of other Stark County department of government elective offices, by way of example - to wit:
  • Stark County auditor,
  • Stark County Board of Elections
  • Stark County clerk of courts
  • Stark County coroner, 
  • Stark County Court of Common Pleas,
  • Stark County engineer, 
  • Stark County prosecutor
  • Stark County recorder,
  • Stark County sheriff, and
  • Stark County treasurer.
The current office holders ought to take up  consideration of implementing such a policy for their respective departments of Stark County government.

And, whether or not they do, should become campaign issues for those offices in which there is a political context this November.

As Commissioner Creighton and Stark County Chief Administration Mike Hanke are seen to say in the video below, all Stark County public employees should be subject to the same retire/rehire policy.

Moreover, the SCPR advocates that all of Stark's cities, villages, townships and boards of educations consider adapting/adopting policy along the lines of the commissioners' pending initiative.

The Report would add one thing to the policy.  Measures should be included that would guarantee to the taxpayers that a rehire in an "extraordinary" situation would not be necessarily a rehire at the retiree's old salary and benefits..  Provisions that ensure that an "arms length" negotiation need to be worked into the proposal.

A SCPR "hats off" to the commissioners for bringing the matter of revising the retire/rehire policy up.

The Report's admonition to the rest of Stark County's political subdivisions?

Go and do likewise!

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