|PJ Steve Baratta started discussion|
about nonunion workers
It all started with President Judge Steve Baratta. At the first budget hearing, it is Baratta who told Council about the disparities between nonunion supervisors and the union employees whom they supervise. He persuaded Executive John Brown to go along with a 4.5% increase for non-union judicial employees.
Next, DA John Morganelli picked up the banner for remaining nonunion workers who make up about 25% of the County's 2,200-person workforce. He told Council that these employees deserve recognition, too, and warned that assistant District Attorneys who work under him could easily decide to go union and shackle the County with a 12th union. He stressed the need for parity.
|Though a union business agent, Ken|
Kraft championed cause of nonunion workers
After listening to Kromer, Council President Peg Ferraro broke ranks and sided with Democrats to support a Budget Amendment awarding a 4.5% wage hike to non-union workers. John Brown protested that this is too costly, but Ferraro retorted that Brown needs to do a pay study.
|Brown agreed to fund payhike|
Lauer's opinion would kill the payraise unless Executive John Brown could be persuaded to agree to the change.
About thirty minutes before the meeting, Ken Kraft was spotted walking into Brown's office. He left just minutes before the meeting. He said nothing, but smiled and gave a thumbs' up.
Once the meeting was under way, Brown got up and agreed that Council could fund the payraise from the general fund. After that, the payraise and final budget were quickly adopted.
It's a no tax hike budget. For the average Northampton County home, which is assessed at $58,800, it means a $693.84 County tax bill, the same as last year. McClure, Glenn Geissinger and Phillips opposed the millage rate ordinance.
Hayden Phillips had proposed a half mill tax cut, to be funded by taking nearly $4 million set aside by Brown for capital improvements like the purchase of the centralized human services building. But aside from Seth Vaughn, he was unable to attract any support.
Phillips also went through a review of controversial payraises that Executive John Brown had granted to 13 different employees without Council approval. All were approved but one. That was a $8,143 raise that Brown gave to Deputy Administrator Cathy Allen. Peg Ferraro attempted to revisit the raise because Council members Glenn Geissinger and Seth Vaughn had been absent from the final budget hearing. But her motion died for lack of a second.
Glenn Geissinger and Mat Benol participated in Council's most important meeting of the year, a meeting to adopt the budget, by phone. Geissinger and Seth Vaughn were absent from the final budget hearing, the day before adoption of the budget.
Though this budget is good news to taxpayers and nonunion workers, it was unwelcome to Plainfield Township open space advocate Don Moore. He pointed out that his community and Moore Township are unable to preserve farmland becauase there is no county contribution scheduled this year. He added that townships are being shortchanged on matching funds. Brown has insisted there is enough farmland money from previous budgets to handle all preservation applications in 2016.