Scioto County, Ohio Commissioners are investigating what Commissioner Cathy Coleman called “extreme” pay raises for two Scioto County Sheriff’s Office employees. SCDN broke the story back on October 6. Chief Deputy Todd Miller and Office Manager Karen Coleman both received pay raises of $10 an hour. Our tipster was able to back it up with records showing Chief Deputy Miller’s pay rate at $46.36 per hour and Coleman’s at $38.95. Office manager Coleman is making $5 an hour more than the captain’s pay rate of $33.59.
When SCDN asked commissioners about the raises two weeks ago, they said they were more of an advisory group and whether or not county departments agreed with their suggestions was up to them. Now, it’s been revealed that the Commissioners sent a letter to the Sheriff asking for more information about the raises. So what changed their minds?
Extreme Pay Raises
Both Commissioner Mike Crabtree and Cathy Coleman agree that running the Sheriff’s Department is Sheriff Marty Donini’s responsibility. Coleman said, “The sheriff is an elected official and by that right alone he runs his department.”
However, she said this case warranted a closer look. “The recent increases for two particular employees are so extreme that it’s being looked into to see if it is indeed an abuse of power.”
Commissioner Crabtree explained, “The pay increases that he gave to a select few was $10 on the hour. I would like to remind the people of Scioto County that it’s all of our tax dollars.”
The timing of the raises worried commissioners. Donini is retiring at the end of the year after 24 years as Scioto County, Ohio sheriff. Crabtree said, “You know, his term is coming to an end here at the end of the year. To give an exorbitant $10 on the hour pay increase, I know I have never seen that in my lifetime unless it’s for professional baseball players or doctors. To give that type of pay increase when he’s coming to the end of his term, it seems extreme. Whether it’s criminal or not, we don’t know.”
The commissioners are also worried that there’s just not enough money in the budget to pay people. Commissioner Crabtree said, “Certainly we need to check and make sure that he has the money in his budget to do that. If he doesn’t have the money and we don’t appropriate additional funds, you may have to lay those folks off early. I don’t understand the purpose behind it.” Crabtree emphasized that Donini has the right to run his department the way he pleases. “The elected officials handle their businesses the way they see fit. We don’t have any control over that, only to the extent of the budget.”
Commissioner Coleman said a close look at the budget shows cause for concern. “Indicators show that he will not have enough money to cover his payroll through the end of the year. There probably will be requests for additional appropriations. That is why our tone has changed.”
Crabtree agreed, “You don’t give those types of raises when you haven’t checked to see if you have it available in your line items. Maybe it’s on the up and up but he would be the one to ask that.”