Williamstown discusses pay raises

WILLIAMSTOWN – City council Tuesday discussed how to be fair in giving employees annual pay raises in the upcoming budget.

“To say this is complicated is an understatement,” said Councilman Marty Seufer, who was asked to look over the pay raise plan for the city.

The proposed plan included a 5 percent increase for all city employees with an additional $2 on the hour raise for police officers.

“When you start looking at it, I have fundamental problems with the way we are paying our police officers,” Seufer said. “The way it is now, the guy who has been here years is making only pennies on the hour more than the guy who was just hired.”

Police Chief B.D. Adkins said one city police officer has been with the department nine years and makes only slightly more than the newest officer who has not been with the city a full month.

“I agree it is not fair,” said Adkins. “My intentions by asking for $2 an hour will bring us up to speed with the other departments in the area.

“I would like to make the pay rate an incentive for people to come here and stay here,” the chief said.

Seufer suggested he, fellow Councilman Gene Duncan and Adkins sit down and discuss the best way to re-evaluate the pay rate for the police department.

“We need to figure out what we should pay an officer in the City of Williamstown,” Seufer said. “We need to set a higher base (pay) and a way to give fair raises.”

Mayor Jean Ford said something needs to be decided for the city’s police officers’ pay to be more competitive with other departments as well as it being a livable wage.

“They are out there every day putting their lives on the line and it’s not easy; they aren’t just regular employees,” Ford said.

Seufer said he would like council to set up a better system for employee raises and give more incentives to remain with the city.

Ford suggested she speak to department heads and find out how they believe raises should be given and what individual employees deserve.

Council was asked to look over the rates and salaries list Seufer created to allow for a first reading of the employee raises during the next meeting July 2.

“I think we can work something out, but I believe we do need to set up a better system,” he said.

In other business:

* Council unanimously approved to allow the city to contract with Pickering Electric to do electrical work at the water and sewer treatment plants for emergency generators.

Although the city had advertised for bids, none were received but an estimate was given for the work to allow the water and sewage treatment plants to run on several generators in the event electrical service has been out for a significant length of time.

“We really need to get this done because we are dealing with storms all of the time and never know when we will need the backup power,” said Ford.

The city realized generators were needed following the June 29, 2012, derecho that left area communities in the dark for days and many cities with critical water and sewer plant situations.

“We almost ran out of water,” said Ford. “We need these generators as soon as possible.”

The estimated cost for the work is $4,200 for the sewage treatment plant and $13,000 for the water facility. The work at the water plant is so much more because more work is required, said public works director Alan Gates.

” We are all scared by the storm last year, but this is the most financially feasible way to be safe,” said Gates.

* Council passed the second reading of the ordinance to allow an auction of city-owned property. The auction will be held at 6 p.m. June 27 at the city building on W. Fifth Street.

Items to be auctioned include seven vehicles such as a 1990 GMC dump truck and 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee, several trash pumps, several bicycles, printers, fax machines, copiers, a television, four cameras and three new toilets.

The last auction of city-owned property in Williamstown was in 2007.