Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Treasurer, Controller Getting Hefty Raises for This Year Both Accept Cost-of-Living Increases, Up 35 Percent from Previous Wages

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Treasurer, Controller Getting Hefty Raises for This Year Both Accept Cost-of-Living Increases, Up 35 Percent from Previous Wages

Article excerpt

Allegheny County's new controller, Chelsa Wagner, and longtime treasurer, John Weinstein, both have accepted large raises for this year.

Their new salaries are $89,904, an increase of 35 percent from the $66,500 the positions have paid since 2000.

The raises are based on the total value of cost-of-living increases the holders of those offices could have requested in the 12 years since the county switched from a commissioners form of government to the current system with an elected executive and 15- member county council.

In their letter to council President Charles Martoni saying they planned to accept their raises, Ms. Wagner and Mr. Weinstein wrote that their new salaries remained 22 percent below the average pay of the county's appointed department heads.

A spokesman for the controller provided a packet of materials describing the process that resulted in the raises.

In late December, county solicitor Michael Wojcik was asked to provide an analysis of the procedure for approving raises for row officers. He said the informal request was one of about 30 similar queries his office receives in the course of a week, and he could not recall who asked for the legal research.

In his memo dated Dec. 27, he wrote that in September 1999, shortly before the county switched to the new form of government, the commissioners established salaries for the controller, treasurer and sheriff that included a provision for annual cost-of-living adjustments. Requests for raises are to be "discussed by the appropriate row officer before county council as part of the annual budget adoption," according to commissioners' resolution.

Councilman William Robinson, D-Hill District, said the pay increases were discussed before council's budget and finance committee and approved as part of those departments' budgets. Mr. Robinson chairs the budget and finance committee.

Mr. Robinson said he believed the row officers deserved cost-of- living raises, despite what he called "our financial sensitivity." He was referring to the fact that county council faced the options of cutting deeply into social service programs and funding for the community college or raising property taxes. …

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