Saturday, July 26, 2014

Retirement division raises bring complaints

February 20. 2013 2:36AM
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Two Luzerne County government retirement division employees received $3,000 pay raises Thursday, prompting complaints from a citizen.

Kingston resident Brian Shiner reminded the county retirement board that other non-union county employees are receiving $1,000 bonuses this year and maintained the two retirement employees should not be treated differently because their salaries are paid by the employee pension fund.

It's county funds. They're county employees, and any raises right now considering the county is $436 million in debt are completely inappropriate, Shiner said.

He also pointed to the need for a performance evaluation system to grant raises based on merit and described the decision to randomly give raises to any employee as offensive.

The retirement board voted to increase pension coordinator Rick Hummer's salary from $45,000 to $48,000.

The board had contemplated a $5,000 increase because Hummer is handling meeting agenda preparation, meeting minutes and other board secretary duties previously performed by the county controller under the prior government system. The controller received $5,000 for the additional work before home rule took effect in January 2012, officials said.

Solicitor Donald Karpowich's salary will increase from $12,000 to $15,000.

The board had considered a $5,000 increase because Karpowich received $20,000 in the position before home rule.

The board solicitor will no longer be eligible for county health care, the board agreed Thursday.

Karpowich said he did not receive county health care, even though it had been available.

Retirement Board member Tim McGinley, also a county councilman, said job descriptions for both positions will be approved as a base for future performance evaluations.

The solicitor also will be required to start documenting the time he spends on retirement board business, McGinley said.

Councilman Eugene Kelleher, county Manager Robert Lawton and deputy sheriff John Evanchick also serve on the board.

A fifth seat that must be held by the county budget/finance chief is vacant until that division head position is filled.

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