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Pinellas commissioner calls for 3% raises for staff

Friday afternoons are usually when elected officials and government offices dump bad news. But Pinellas Commissioner chose this Friday afternoon to announce he'd like county employees to get a three percent raise next year.

County Administrator Bob LaSala had already been talking about giving his staff, as well as Pinellas County sheriff deputies, a raise, but Roche has gone and put a number on it.

In an email to the rest of the board, he outlined his reasoning. In 2011, lawmakers in Tallahassee voted to require workers to contribute three percent of their pay to their pension plans. The move saved counties money, while effectively giving workers a pay cut.

Roche wants to reverse the pay cut, writing in his memo to the board that the employees "deserve it."

Under fiscal impact, Roche wrote "none."

"The action, itself, will not require a property tax increase," he wrote.

It's an assertion LaSala isn't likely to agree with.

Pinellas uses the millions it saves in retirement contributions to cover rising costs in other areas and pad the budgets of departments that are losing money. Those costs are only going up. And it is possible the Legislature will change the equation again this year, forcing the county to put more money into the pension system. LaSala would like to give his employees raises too, but he's proposing a tax increase to do it.