By John A. Ballentine
The Stark County Board of Supervisors has recommended and frozen for four years the salaries of board members, county clerk & recorder, sheriff, supervisor of assessments & zoning officer and the treasurer. Released closed session minutes from an April 24, 2018 finance committee meeting indicates that these elected officials salaries were recommended and frozen to begin December 1, 2018.
Stark State’s Attorney James D. Owens had recommended the release of the closed session minutes. In addressing the board at the May 3 meeting, Owens stated, “Serious thought to approving the minutes for publication of the closed session, should be given.”
The released transcript of closed session minutes was decided at a May 3, 2018 finance committee meeting that was called to rectify am improper procedure according to the Open Meetings Act. On April 24, the board failed to recite a specific reason as to why they were entering into a closed session.
“On April 24, there was a motion, which did not include a statutory citation – there was a vote. So, procedurally the finance committee was partially correct and partially incorrect,” Owens explained.
Salaries for 2019 through 2022 are: $61,000 for Sheriff Steven Sloan; $40,000 for incoming County Clerk & Recorder Heather Hollis; $50,755 for Supervisor of Assessments & Zoning Officer Renee Johnson; and $45,480 for Treasurer Paula Leezer.
Board members, who have typically not taken salaries, could earn $50 per regular monthly meeting and $40 for other types of meetings, such as committee meetings.
The chairman is entitled to a $2,000 salary per year. There is a $10,000 budget line item included in the county’s budget for these expenditures of the board.
These recommended salaries for the elected officials will likely have been approved on Tuesday, May 8 during the regular monthly board meeting. The salaries have to be established 180 days prior to the new term of the elected officials. The salary of Circuit Clerk Julie Kenney was previously established and is not up for review until Kenney’s next term commences. She currently earns $40,000 per year.
Minutes of the closed session can be viewed on the county’s website. Owens has stated to the board concerning the closed session, “For those of you who were there, and for Robin Nowlan and I, who were not there (at the April 24 meeting), there was nothing inappropriate about discussing salaries that night. It was an oversight for some reason or another (the failure to cite a reason for entering into closed session). In reading through the transcript there was nothing malicious, nothing vicious, nothing accusatory – there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
By John A. Ballentine