August 2022

Franklin County upping minimum wage for employees

Courtesy of Columbus Business First
By Hayleigh Colombo
August 29, 2022

Franklin County is raising its minimum wages again and launching a new workforce program in order to attract people to jobs in the public sector.

The Board of Commissioners will vote on a proposal this week to raise its minimum wage to $17 per hour. That equates to $35,360 per year for full-time employees.

In addition, the county is launching a new program called County Futures in hopes of “giving people access and pathways into the middle class,” Board Commissioner Erica Crawley told us.

The county had already raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2019. But Crawley said county officials decided that rate “wasn’t going to cut it” anymore to keep the county competitive in a tight labor market.

“We want to make sure we’re always paying a living wage,” Crawley said. “Everything was starting to increase with the costs of goods and living alone. Our employees are our greatest asset. One of the things we need to make sure is that if you work for the county, (employees) are not also using our agencies to supplant their income.”

Existing county employees will also receive wage adjustments, depending on their experience.

“We understand that compression is an issue,” Crawley said. “We have to acknowledge and make adjustments for those tenured employees.”

The minimum wage adjustment applies initially to about 1,400 county employees that are part of 14 agencies under the Board of Commissioners. Once approved by the board and approved by union bargaining units, the wage changes could go into effect as early as Sept. 9.

The full group of 6,500 Franklin County employees are slated to receive the adjustments in next year’s budget.

“We’ll be bringing them along later on,” Crawley said.

In addition, a new workforce development program modeled after the Building Futures programs and Driving Futures program that prepare people for jobs in construction and truck driving is set to launch soon.

“If we’re creating pipelines for the construction trades or for CDL drivers, why wouldn’t we do the same for our own organization?” We wanted to provide pathways to secure jobs right here in the county.”

The County Futures will launch with 100 people who will be hired and then paid to receive several weeks of training before starting their roles. The Columbus Urban League is helping with the initiative. The county previously approved $734,000 to fund the initiative.

Crawley said she wants county jobs — from custodians to landscapers to kennel attendants — to be a pathway to sustainability for residents.

“We’re really targeting people who may have had a past history with the criminal justice system or been justice-involved,” Crawley said.

Crawley said the Building Futures and Driving Futures programs have been successful in the past because employees are “provided with barrier removal services.”

That means helping them with childcare costs, bus passes, rent and utility assistance and more.

For example, there are slots available for County Futures participants in the new Franklin County Rise childcare scholarship program.

“People want to and deserve to be paid but there’s also other services helping them be successful,” Crawley said.

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