Butler county prosecutors vie for staff wage increase
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 01:10
Every calendar year, Butler County holds meetings between office holders and county commissioners to discuss their needs and requests. At the 2013 meeting, held a few weeks ago, prosecutors opened the floodgates, according to County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, and have collectively asked for more than $1 million in raises across the board from the county commissioners.
Gmoser said his staff is severely underpaid and it has become necessary to ask for nearly $356,000 in raises for his staff alone. If raises are not granted, Gmoser said he could risk losing some of his staff to the private sector.
According to Gmoser, to keep the attorneys in his office from turning to the private sector in search of higher wage, he must pay them what they deserve.
“If the horse is going to run the race,” Gmoser said. “It has got to be fed the oats the night before.”
Gmoser said he lost one of his top attorneys last year to a private firm that offered him double the salary than Gmoser was capable of paying him.
“He was a great, talented man and I was lucky to have him,” Gmoser said. “The private sector firm saw that, and how could he resist doubling his income?”
Miami University economics professor William Even said he agrees with Gmoser.
Even said if an employer is paying wages below the prevailing wage among competitive firms, then they are bound to lose employees.
“If everyone is paid $10 and you are paying $8, then expect to lose some men and not be able to attract more,” Even said.
However, Even pointed out that there is currently a debate centered around the notion that public sector employees are overpaid to begin with.
“It’s not untrue that they might need it,” Even said. “They just need a lot of evidence to back up their claims. Simply saying their wages are pathetic is subjective and will not get requests met.”
Even said the key to determining an appropriate wage level was to see if a company is losing a significant number of workers, having difficulty hiring new employees and how their wages compare to similar companies.
With that in mind, Gmoser said he researched wages of similar positions with similar job description and county equivalence, and determined that his attorneys and staff are underpaid. According to Gmoser, large private firms in New York City pay starting employees anywhere from $90,000 to $110,000 while firms in the Cincinnati offer starting wages of about $65,000-$85,000. However, Gmoser said his attorneys start with salaries as low as $41,900.
Gmoser explained that to keep his “A Team” of attorneys he has to pay them what they deserve.
“It is about fairness to treat employees equally,” Gmoser said.
As county commissioners still debate wages, Gmoser said he would not make a prediction about the outcome.
“I am hopeful that [county commissioners] can recognize what is fair,” Gmoser said. “I leave it in their hands to exercise the wisdom the voters recognized in them.”