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The Suburbanite
  • Commissioners could prohibit rehiring retirees

  • Stark County commissioners reviewed two draft policies Tuesday during a work session that would limit options for employees who retire from county government.

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  • Retirees should enjoy their golden years on a golf course or with their grandchildren — not back in a county government office, Stark County commissioners said Tuesday.
    The three-member board reviewed two draft policies Tuesday during a work session that would limit options for employees who retire from county government.
    One proposed policy would prevent the commissioners from rehiring an employee who retires, except in extraordinary circumstances such as when an employee provides unparalleled expertise and experience to the county. If commissioners determine that such a situation exists, the board must discuss and approve the employee’s rehire in a public meeting, according to the proposed policy.
    The policy would apply only to those employees who fall under the commissioners’ hiring authority such as the county job and family services, dog warden’s office and the sanitary engineer’s office. Workers employed by elected county officials, such as the sheriff, prosecutor, auditor, treasurer and judges, would not be covered by the policy.
    A second proposed policy, however, could affect nearly every county employee. It would require employees who have worked in public service for at least 10 years to decide at the time they retire or quit whether or not they want to be paid for the sick time they have accumulated but never used.
    Due to a visiting judge’s decision in 2007 in Stark County Common Pleas Court, the county’s existing policy allows employees to bank their unused sick time for up to 10 years. In some cases, employees choose not to seek the immediate payout because they may pursue another job in the public sector. County employees can be paid one-fourth the value of unused sick leave up to 240 hours. Elected officials do not accrue sick leave.
    “If they want the sick time, then don’t retire,” Commissioner Janet Weir Creighton said.
    The second policy mirrors state law, and would cover any county department, commission or board that receives at least half of its funding from the taxpayer-supported general fund. Employees covered by union contracts that include language about sick leave payments would not be affected unless the new provision is negotiated into their contract language.
    Tuesday’s discussion comes as state legislators consider five bills aimed to buttress Ohio’s five financially unstable public pension systems by changing eligibility requirements and some retiree benefits. County officials expect the law to prompt some veteran employees to retire.
    Both the House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the bills Wednesday.