Prosecutor airs salary concerns
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 06 February 2014 09:54
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson nearly lost several employees to higher-paying jobs and has asked for more flexibility in the county’s salary schedule.
Dobson explained to commissioners Thursday that he was able to keep two employees last month by giving pay increases not paid for with general fund money. Dobson said he’s not against pay scales as a general concept, but he expressed several concerns over how the scale currently used by the county could affect staffing in his office.
When Molly Mack, formerly chief of the prosecutor’s civil division, became judge of Perrysburg Municipal Court in January, she sought several employees for her new staff whom Dobson had been planning to assign to in-house title processing, rather than hiring an outside contractor to do the work.
Adjusting the employees’ job duties would have taken time, so the employees could have accepted Mack’s offer if Dobson hadn’t swiftly matched it. And whether pay increases were authorized would have been up to Archer Consulting, the group that administers the salary system.
“The person who was kind of the central point to that (internal title work) was asked by Molly if she would go and be her secretary in the municipal court, and the pay she was offering was substantially more than what I could offer her under the Archer system,” Dobson said.
To prompt a review, Dobson and the employees would have had to work on a comprehensive position questionnaire, a 20-page document that details all facets of a job description, including specified duties, expected education and compensation.
Dobson pointed out that the increases to match the offers from Mack, which he paid for with delinquent tax collections rather than general fund dollars, cost less than it would have to pay someone else to perform the title work.
“(If) I’m going to step out of the Archer system and ultimately save money for the county, I can’t see where that’s a bad call to make.”
Dobson said the scale has also created difficulties as he looks to hire a new investigator. He said a level of pay which doesn’t match increased responsibilities has kept him from seeking his preferred candidates.
“The people that we’ve been interested in can’t do it because the pay’s too low. I could bring them in at the highest pay and it’s still lower than sheriff’s deputies make and police detectives make.
“I’ve never liked the Archer system, I’ve never made a big secret about it to begin with. I think that their pay scales are low.”
County Administrator Andrew Kalmar suggested that having Archer review the investigator position and what it entails could allow Dobson to offer more money.
“Positions do change over time, and I would presume investigative techniques change over time and that it may be of value to take a look at a position like that and say ‘Is this paid correctly?’” Kalmar said.
“If that hasn’t been done in the last 15 years or more, perhaps that’s a possible solution.”
Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said an overall review of the system would be valuable, but the source of an employee’s pay shouldn’t determine who gets an increase. It’s important to maintain the integrity of the system without having some positions or employees independent of it, he said.
As for the review, “I think that’s probably a healthy exercise to do anytime you have a system, especially, with this much effect on our employees,” Kuhlman said.
“Understand, I just wanted to open the discussion,” Dobson said of bringing his concerns to commissioners. “This isn’t any kind of ridiculous ultimatum or anything like that.”