Employees won’t get bonuses

WARREN — There are too many expected expenses to issue bonuses at the Trumbull County Department of Job and Family Services and the Child Support Enforcement Agency, according to a letter from the director to Trumbull County commissioners.

The letter from Director John Gargano states, “It would be fiscally prudent to forego any incentive payments at this time. However, as in the past, this will be reviewed toward the end of the year for any potential future payments.”

Ohio law allows Gargano to award spare money in the budget to employees as a bonus for meeting incentives. About 170 employees could receive up to $1,000.

“The incentive payments are not an entitlement to be paid annually. Prior to any payment, first and foremost, the potential needs of the agency will be reviewed,” the letter states.

Gargano cites recent raises and other expenses, most mandated by the state, in the coming year that require careful budgeting. After meeting with his fiscal administrator, he came to his conclusion, according to the letter.

The agency’s employees were granted raises last month, back-dated to August, when a new union contract was signed. As a result, each employee received an average of about $320 to $350 more in their checks in retroactive lump sums, costing the agency about $79,900, according to the letter. The agency also has to absorb an additional $330,000 in health care costs a year as a result of the contract.

The agency also has to convert its document imaging program by April, which is likely to cost around $150,000, according to the letter.

And 325 new phones will cost about $97,000, according to Gargano.

But one of the most important expenses Gargano has to look out for are “ceiling excesses,” the letter states.

“In June 2017, JFS went over in the food assistance account. The agency went over by $64,123.24, which was covered by incentive monies and left a balance of $83,349.19. Although the budget is continually reviewed, the potential for future overages exists and the agency must be prepared to cover the same without future requests for additional funding from the county,” Gargano states in the letter.