Westmoreland County officials' raises modest
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 10:18 p.m.
Westmoreland County's elected officials will get raises in 2014, although the salary hikes won't pay for much more than a nice meal out.
County commissioners and row officers receive annual cost-of-living increases.
That amounts to 0.25 percent for the upcoming year.
Chairman Charles Anderson of the board of commissioners will take home an additional $195.
Commissioners Tyler Courtney and Ted Kopas each will get raises of $188.
Most row officers will get an annual pay hike of $165.
“I may buy a nice bottle of wine,” Anderson joked when asked how he will spend his newfound riches.
Courtney and Kopas, who last year said they planned to give their 2.14 percent pay raises to charity, said courthouse workers may benefit from next year's raise.
“We may throw a courthouse pizza party,” Kopas and Courtney said last week.
Salary increases for the county's elected officials are determined by the consumer price index, which is determined by the Department of Labor and fixed through a compilation of data tied to economic conditions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
Annual raises have varied over the years, peaking with a 5 percent increase in 2003.
The 2014 raises are the lowest that have been issued since the automatic pay hikes were implemented in 1996. In 2010, elected officials did not get raises because the consumer price index actually dropped slightly, by less than 1 percent.
Recorder of Deeds Frank Schiefer said inflation and local taxes increased, meaning his raise will be put to good use to cover those additional personal costs.
“Cost-of-living adjustments aren't a bad thing. Elected officials should be treated the same as other workers,” Schiefer said.
As part of the county's $342 million budget that commissioners approved this month, 400 nonunion workers will receive 1.5 percent raises in 2014.
Unionized workers, under terms of previously negotiated labor deals, receive raises between 2 percent to 3 percent.
“Our blessing is we get this great job,” Controller Jeffrey Balzer said. “The raise is not a lot of money, but I'm happy to be getting any raise.”
Democrat Dan Blissman and Republican Debbie Irwin will finish the year as the county's last elected jury commissioners after county commissioners voted to abolish the office, which paid each about $18,000 annually. The court administrator's office will oversee the jury selection process.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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