Hundreds of Cumberland County employees will soon get raises. Too costly?

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Cumberland County has nearly 900 non-union employees. More than 300 of them will get raises come July 12.

Those salary increases will cost taxpayers $2.2 million now and roughly a million a year moving forward.

For more than a year the county has studied its compensation formula and recently unveiled minimum and maximum salaries for various job titles. It is now implementing the recommendations.

“Anyone whose job category was below the minimum got adjusted upward,” Chief Clerk Larry Thomas said.

Thomas supports the raises and calls them vital in the wake of recent wage freezes implemented by the county on non-union workers. He said recent downsizing and efficiencies will pay for the raises and they won’t require tax increases.

“We want to get people in here who are good, and pay them what they’re worth, and keep them,” Thomas said.

But the support is not unanimous among Cumberland County officials.

“These extra dollars being spent on wages may result in a reduction of services,” Commissioner Jim Hertzler (D) said.

Hertzler said county employees work hard and he doesn’t begrudge anyone a raise, but he worries there were too many raises and they were too generous.

More than 100 employees got raises of $10,000 or more. Thirty-six got at least $15,000, and six got increases of $20,000 or more.

Hertzler said he investigated and was troubled by other findings.

“Folks are getting raises who may have been here, you know, a couple weeks or a month and they’re getting raises of over $12,000. I thought, there’s something wrong here. Who gets those kinds of raises in this day and age unless you’re getting a promotion, new responsibilities? That’s not the case here.”

Thomas has been on the job two years and is scheduled for a sizable bump, which Hertzler questioned at a public meeting June 24.

“This is public information,” Hertzler said. “His salary is gonna go from $107,000 to $132,000.”

An angry Thomas felt singled out and saw Hertzler’s line of questioning as a personal attack on his integrity. He blurted out the f-word during the meeting. He’s since apologized.

“I was more than a little frustrated,” said Thomas, who also feels that Hertzler was trying to sabotage a salary plan the county’s worked on for more than a year.

Thomas also said that the compensation study was done blind, meaning it determined salary ranges based on job descriptions, not the individuals who have the positions.

“I will gladly give the money back if it’s gonna get people’s noses back in joint,” Thomas said.

“This is not about Jim Hertzler, it’s not about the chief clerk,” Hertzler said. “It’s about doing what’s right for the people of Cumberland County.”

The compensation study found just over 300 employees making less than the minimum for the job classification. Those employees got raises. It also found 90 employees making more than the maximum for their job description. They will not take a pay cut.

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