UPDATED: 07:35 AM
On September 13, 2013, the Stark County Political Report started a blog series (Link: the commissioners' office report) devoted to analyzing how well the Stark County commissioners are doing in controlling the infusion of some $22 million in new revenues into county government.
As stated in that report:
One of the major headaches in being a Stark County commissioner is getting Stark County departments of governments to "hold the line" and not "rush out" to spend the "newly available" money provided as a consequence of Stark Countians having voted in a 0.5% sales tax increase in November, 2011.
The SCPR grade for the commissioners themselves?
While the commissioners did hold themselves to their own standard that there should be no pay increases beyond 2%, they did (unnecessarily, in the view of The Report) have an office expense increase for additional employees of 22% over their 2012 budget.
The Report questions the commissioners having hired (on a contract basis, capped at $65,000) former prosecutor David Bridenstine to assist them in contract negotiations.
As I see it, this service should be provided by Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero.
Apparently, the commissioners feel that there is no one on Ferrero's legal staff that can handle the work that Bridenstine did for them (prior to his recent retirement).
So they let Ferrero apply Bridenstine's salary for "other" purposes? Meaning "other than the commissioners" purposes.
While it is clear to the SCPR that the commissioners did need and were justified in bringing on additional administrative employees, The Report thinks they did not need to bring on a high-wage-level-positon (i.e. Chris Nichols ultimately at $70,000 per year).
When they hired Brant Luther as Mike Hanke's replacement as chief county administrator; they brought him on at $85,000 (after his probationary period) which is a $7,000 increase over Hanke or a 9% annual increase.
If the commissioners get a C- with a note that the SCPR does not think garnering a C- they are leading by example, just take a look at what Stark County recorder Rick Campbell is doing in 2013 compared to 2012 in terms of an increase.
To my surprise, Campbell did limit - for the most part - pay increases from 2012 to 2013 to the commissioners' recommended 2% except for employee Dave Irwin who Campbell shifted from being a deputy recorder to the microfilming division of the office.
Campbell is on record as believing that the employees should have been given a 3% raise. It is a credit to him that he heeded the commissioners' plea that department heads limit themselves to giving 2% increases "across-the-board" as "a show of good faith" with Stark County voters and taxpayers.
However, it is obvious that Irwin did get a promotion from being a deputy recorder at $27,851 to being an assistant supervisor in the microfilming section of the recorders office at $33,500 which is a whopping 17% increase.
Irwin by the way is running for Massillon City Council in Ward 2 against incumbent Republican Nancy Halter.
He is thought to be a Johnnie A. Maier, Jr man (Maier, a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and now Massillon clerk of courts) in the battle between warring Massillon political groups (including the three Democratic Party factions [Cicchinelli, Ferrero and Maier]) for control of Massllon's council.
Why would Irwin be thought to be a Maier-man?
Likely because of his connection to Campbell.
Campbell is a long time political associate of Maier.
Maier's chief deputy is Shane Jackson who is the brother of Campbell's wife Lisa who formerly worked for Campbell (before they married) and now works as the chief administrator for Plain Township.
Shane is the political director for the Stark County Democratic Party and Maier's chief deputy in the Massillon clerk of courts office.
Irwin's promotion with its attendant 17% increase is really the minor story in the Campbell 2013 budget scenario.
The really BIG story with Campbell is his mammoth 44% increase in total budget in 2013 over 2012.
By my count based on information and data provided to me by Stark County auditor Alan Harold, Campbell added eight, folks that's EIGHT in capital letters additional employees for an additional expenditure of some $170,000 over and above 2012.
That is huge, no?
The SCPR agrees with the commissioners' and Campbell that his office sorely needed additional employees. His office took a devastating hit in 2010/2011 when the county was in the grips of wrenching financial crisis.
But eight additional employees?
From a total of nine (in addition to Campbell himself) in 2012 to seventeen in 2013?
As can be seen from a listing of the new positions in the chart provided in this blog, most of them are additions to the microfilming sections of Campbell's operations.
I was present at the budget hearings when Campbell and his chief deputy Kody Gonazalez (son of Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez) appeared before the Stark County commissioners.
And they did make a compelling case that in order to keep up with and make inroads into the large and continuing microfilming demand on the part of the general run of Stark County departments of government, the recorder's office was going to need a pronounced stepup in numbers of microfilming employees.
Notwithstanding Campbell having made a case for increased numbers of employees, for him to have added two additionals to his recorder's staff and six to the microfilming section is hardly a show of great restraint.
The SCPR thinks that Campbell should have been slower to add employees to ensure that the demand of the volume of work to be performed precisely and exactly matched the demand.
The Report suspects that he built in some slack in terms of ratio of work to be performed and the number of total recorder office employees.
Campbell's SCPR grade?