Cass Commission tables request from prosecutor to up pay rate for chief assistant Ronning

Published 8:48 am Friday, March 19, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Wagel, R-Wayne Township, appointed a committee Thursday to review Prosecutor Victor Fitz's tabled request to pay his chief assistant a higher rate.
The Cass County board voted 9-4 to table Fitz's request to pay Jason Ronning $56,000 instead of the $47,325 salary he started at in January on a motion by Commissioner James Sayer, R-Dowagiac.
Wagel named Sayer, Commissioner David Taylor, D-Edwardsburg and Commissioner Minnie Warren, D-Pokagon Township, to further study the issue and to report back at the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. April 1 at the Edward Lowe Center for the Council on Aging.
Voting for tabling were Sayer, Taylor, Warren, Mike Raab, Robert Ziliak, Terri Kitchen, Ron Francis, Debbie Johnson and Dixie Ann File.
Voting against tabling were Wagel and Commissioners Johnie Rodebush, Carl Higley Sr. and Alan Northrop.
Commissioners Jack Teter and Bruce Butchbaker were absent.
According to the Cass County Wage and Salary Administration Policy, new hires start at the lowest rate of the set pay grade.
In unusual circumstances, an elected official may request that the Board of Commissioners set a pay rate above the minimum.
Chief assistant prosecutor is pay grade 12, with the $47,325 start rate.
The closest step to $56,000 is 8, with a rate of $55,606.
Each pay grade in the non-union salary table contains 13 steps. Taylor made the motion to approve Ronning's start rate at pay grade 12, step 8.
Fitz wrote a three-page memo defending the request and personally appeared before the commission to make his case.
Ronning earned approximately $55,000 in private practice.
Fitz asked for $58,000 in his 2004 budget.
Not having a chief assistant for the first 12 days of 2004 saved another $1,426, plus insurance costs for the first 90 days this year.
Fitz saved the county approximately $39,000 in 2003. His office's year-end expenditures came in 7 percent under budget.