PDT Staff Writer
In February of 2012 the Scioto County Commissioners passed legislation that raised the salary for the Scioto County Veterans Service Commissioners. After being approved by the commissioners Scioto County Auditor David Green asked for a legal opinion from the Prosecutor’s office before implementing.
At last Thursday’s meeting of the Scioto County Commissioners, they accepted the legal opinion of Danielle Parker, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney with the Scioto County Prosecutor’s office on the matter.
In her opinion Parker states, “You have requested a legal opinion from this office regarding whether or not the Scioto County Veterans Service Commissioners may be granted a pay increase… My understanding from your letter of Feb. 16, 2012 is that on or about Feb. 2, 2012 the Scioto County Commissioners granted a pay increase to the Veterans Service Commissioners; however, upon informing the Scioto County Auditor’s office of the decision for the pay increase, the Auditor requested something in writing from our office. From the letter of Jan. 26, 2012, it appears that the basis for the requested increase is due to an increase in the commissioners duties and responsibilities; including but not limited to attending several training classes per year for continuing education credits, attending meetings twice a month etc.”
Wendell Skinner, President of the Scioto County County Veterans Service Commission in a letter to the commissioners dated May 6, 2013 stated, “The Scioto County Veterans Service Commissioners is writing to ask that at the reappointment of each Veterans Service Commissioner that their salary be increased three percent for a cost of living raise per year. This would become effective with the next appointment starting January 2014.”
He said the increase is being asked for because of the increased responsibilities of the commissioners.
“We are required by law to attend several training classes a year to obtain continuing education credits, to qualify for our positions, this is mandated by the state of Ohio. We are meeting twice a month and going over each emergency assistant application and conducting in-depth investigations into potential emergency assistant candidates. We are also taking a hands-on approach to how the office is run. We are going into the field and examining any construction projects for wheel chair and disabled veterans, that have been approved by our office. We also attend several veteran meetings during the year explaining about the office and how we can held the veterans. It should be noted that this office has helped in over 32 million dollars a year in benefits and service to this county.”
In her opinion Parker quotes, Ohio Constitution Article II which states, “the general assembly, in cases not provided for in this constitution, shall fix the term of office and the compensation of all officers; but no change therein shall affect the salary of any officer during his existing term, unless the office be abolished.”
She also quotes an opinion by the attorney general and sections of the Ohio Revised Code.
“You are correct in stating that Ohio Revised Code section 5901.04 provides that the county commissioners shall fix a fair compensation for the Veterans Service Commissioners for their services; however, the authority granted by the legislature is not without limitations. As stated previously, any increase or decrease in compensation can not be implemented during the term of office of a commissioner,” Parker stated. “Therefore I am of the opinion that the Scioto County Commissioners have the statutory authority to pass a resolution for an increase in the compensation of the Veterans Service Commissioners; however, said increase shall not be effective during the Veterans Service Commissioners current term of office, and my only be implemented upon commencing a new term of office.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.