Geauga County | Mental health board to cut pay to 2009 levels

GEAUGA COUNTY -- The county's Board of Mental Health decided tonight to stop proposed upcoming pay raises for staff and go back to what they were making in 2009.

That doesn't mean they will give back any money they've already been paid, however.

The CEO and four staff members that work at the board office got pay raises of more than 20 percent while most other county workers got just a 3 percent bump.

"Five pay raises in one calendar year. It's unheard of," Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri said earlier today after calling for resignations.

Mental Health Board CEO Jim Adams is Geauga County's highest paid employee.

In January 2013, his the salary was at $111, 741. He was granted raises by the board in February, March, April, August and December, ending with a salary of $153,734. This year, he was on track to receive another 15 percent bump.

"They were unusual raises, and I think we need to address those," Adams said in an interview with WKYC's Sara Shookman.

Adams says the board researched comparable salaries across the state for years before determining appropriate levels for his next contract.

"The board came back later after those salary surveys became public and made those changes to my salary on their own, not at my request," he said.

The board approved a new contract in March 2013. Adams signed off on the raises for four employees, each between 20 percent and 25 percent.

He says the changes were implemented over several fiscal years, which don't line up with the calendar.

Adams says the salary increases fit into a longterm budget boosted by operational grants and state legislature funds, despite a failed additional levy in 2012.

"We've funded over $1.9 million of new services during this time frame," he said. "I think there's some real miscommunication about what this board has been doing and how that affects everything."

"I would like to see the director gone. I would like to see all of the members of the board that voted for this gone," Spidalieri said earlier today.

Tonight he said it's game on tomorrow, and he still wants to remove the board for granting the raises in the first place.

Adams has said he isn't planning on that, nor are members of his board.


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