Board approves pay raise

MIFFLINTOWN – A discussion about general salaries and pay raises dominated the weekly public board meeting held by the Juniata County Commissioners in Mifflintown.

Two items on the agenda recommended the approval of collective bargaining agreements with the Teamsters Local 776 Juniata County Commissioners residual unit and appointed employees unit for the contract term beginning Jan. 1, 2013, and ending Dec. 31, 2016.

Commissioner Robert Reynolds said the proposals meant close to a 10 percent pay increase for employees during the next four years. With no indication that the economy is going to improve dramatically within the term of the contract, Reynolds said he was reluctant to vote for the increase.

“It’s a difficult position to be in,” Commissioner Teresa O’Neal agreed.

However, she said failure to approve these contracts should open conversation up to freezing vacant positions and automatic pay increases for elected officials. Without considering those topics, O’Neal said the board is not uniformly addressing the issue.

“We need to expand that conversation,” she said, if the agreements failed.

The motions passed with a 2-1 roll call vote. Commissioner Jeffrey Zimmerman and O’Neal voted in favor of the agreements, with opposition from Reynolds.

Also during the meeting, commissioners:

Approved tax exonerations for Thompsontown Borough, Fermanagh Township, Lack Township, Walker Township, Milford Township and Susquehanna Township as presented.

Approved the Mutual Aid Agreements for Emergency Services, as submitted by William Hummel, emergency services operations and training officer.

Approved the annual Report of County Liquid Fuels Tax Fund, as submitted by Sandra King, county treasurer.

Approved three Purchase of Service agreements between Juniata County Children and Youth Services, the Juniata County Probation Department and Bald Eagle Boys Camp, National Mentor Healthcare LLC and White Deer Run Inc. The agreements were submitted by Helen Henry, children and youth director, and will be in effect from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013.

Reviewed the 2012 Juniata County Children and Youth Annual Expenditure Report, as submitted by Henry.

Approved a request for liquid fuel funds for Beale Township in the amount of $1,076.45.

Approved checks Nos. 36,744 to 36,798 in the amount of $99,174.90.

Reviewed the October, November and December 2012 Tax Claims Cash Report, as submitted by Brenda Varner, tax claim director.

In a meeting of the Retirement Board, held after the commissioners’ meeting, the board approved a fiscal year 2013 interest rate of 5 percent for the Employees’ Retirement Fund account.