Elections board approves increases

Seneca County Board of Elections approved higher salaries and eliminated compensation time for its directors Wednesday afternoon.

Board Director Jim Ehrman said a court order from a 2002 case between Seneca County commissioners and the board of elections ruled the board’s director and deputy director would be paid 80 percent of what the Seneca County recorder is paid.

Ehrman said commissioners had sent a proposal to the board of elections to vacate findings of the 2002 court case because  commissioners and the board each saw the agreement as unneeded.

Elections Board President Jim Fruth said the proposal states the agreement was “unnecessary and no longer appropriate.”

Board members voted 4-0 to vacate the agreement.

Board member Mary Puffenberger said Ohio Revised Code states the board of elections decides the salary for directors and staff. Deputy Director Lori Ritzler said that was true, but added commissioners still would have to approve the figures in the budget.

Ehrman said the county budget had not been passed yet, but a 3 percent raise was expected for all employees. He said that meant he and Ritzler would be paid about $3,000 less than the amount that would have been allotted to them under the previous agreement. But, since the board is able to set the salary for its directors and staff, the group went into executive session to discuss.

After discussion, the board unanimously approved an increase in the directors’ salaries to $47,000 per year. The directors were paid about $41,000 in 2016.

“I believe this is a very reasonable salary for the amount of work they do,” said board member David Koehl.

Ehrman said that even with the increase, other area county boards of elections offices of similar size paid directors more. In Sandusky County, director pay is $47,362.38; in Huron County, $53,515.38; in Hancock County, $53,118; and in Marion County, $47,085.

Puffenberger said some of those counties made salary increases after comp time was eliminated, which the board also agreed to Wednesday. Fruth said directors would be allowed to keep existing time accrued.

The elections board also approved a pay increase for office clerks to $12.50 per hour and $12 per hour.

Koehl said the new rates were in line with counties of similar size.

“I think this is very reasonable based on (pay of) other clerks in other offices,” he said.

Ehrman added the changes depend on passage of the county budget, which commissioners expect to approve Tuesday.

Seneca County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the pay increases would not affect the draft of the budget, which includes $140,000 appropriated for board of election salaries.

The board scheduled upcoming meetings for 5:10 p.m. Jan. 18 and 5:10 p.m. Feb. 8.