The tape of this meeting is on file in the Council Clerk’s Office.
TO THE HONORABLE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ELYRIA, OHIO:
The Finance Committee held a meeting on Monday, October 10, 2017 at 6:07 P.M. in Council Chambers.
PRESENT: Committee Chair Stewart, Members Tanner, Madison, Baird, Lotko ABSENT: None
OTHERS PRESENT: Mayor Brinda, Safety Service Director Siwierka, Law Director Serazin, WWPC Superintendent Korzan, Engineer Ujvari, Finance Director Pileski, Police Chief Whitely, Assistant Safety Service Director Brubaker, Communications Superintendent Showalter
1. Approval of the 9/25/2017 Meeting Minutes.
Tanner moved and Baird seconded to approve the minutes of the 9/25/2017 Finance Committee Meeting.
2. The matter of certifying a list lot mowing charges to the Lorain County Auditor’s Office.
REFERRED BY: Safety Service Secretary, Ginny Hawes
This is standard procedure.
Baird moved, seconded by Tanner to recommend a resolution to certify lot mowing charges to The Lorain County Auditor’s Office
REFERRED BY: Assistant Safety Service Director Brubaker
Mr. Brubaker explained that the tree that was on private property and it had to be removed because it was a very dangerous tree, a large limb had already fallen and had damaged the neighbor’s property. This is the first time that we’ve taken down a tree on private property. It had to be removed because it was a safety issue. The owner is deceased and the family members have denied all liability to the property and the house is currently in foreclosure. Due to the fact that it is in tax foreclosure we would like to get in on the lien for the potential that the City could get our money back to protect the City interest.
Mr. Baird said the value of the property value is $89,000 and unpaid taxes are $10,000. Mr. Brubaker said the house is in fairly good condition and feels the house will sell for the amount of the taxes and any other liens on the property including the lien for the tree.
Baird moved, seconded by Madison to recommend a resolution to place a lien on the property of 334 Princeton Ave. for emergency tree removal.
4. The matter of a request to re-classify City Council Secretary from Administrative Secretary to Secretary III.
REFERRED BY: Council Clerk Office
Mr. Bullocks spoke to the committee and said that this matter is referring to Mrs. Billman and explained that Mrs. Billman is not an Administrative Secretary, where she supervises or makes decisions as described under the title of Administrative Secretary. Mrs. Billman was given the Administrative Secretary title years ago and now with the exempt and non-exempt that’s coming into effect, she does not meet the FCLA for supervisors, running the department, making decisions and so forth, which fall under the job duties of the clerk. Mr. Bullocks said that the Law Director said that her title should be changed with no pay increase from Administrative Secretary to Secretary III. This title change would make her position become a non-exempt position as opposed to exempt position.
Mr. Baird asked for the issue of overtime in Chapter 165 to be clarified. Ms. Deery stated that she understands that at the time Nell Fike retired prior to coming back on board with the City, she had the title of Administrative Secretary and upon her return, Mrs. Billman assumed the position of Administrative Secretary and Ms. Fike took the position of Secretary. She and Ms. Fike basically switched job classifications. Based upon the audit for purposes of determining which jobs are exempt and non-exempt, the job classification of Administrative Secretary has been determined to be exempt for purposes of Fair Labor Standards Act; it’s Federal Law. That is what has brought this issue to light.
There are no employees that are working without getting some kind of compensation. It’s a matter of whether employees will get time and a half. Will they get overtime or will they only be allowed to get it as ‘comp’ time? The review of these positions was done fairly recently and up until then Mrs. Billman had been receiving overtime at time and a half. As Mr. Bullocks explained the job responsibilities in the Council Clerks’s office, there is no supervising, which would be what would make someone exempt. Ms. Deery is not aware if Susan Anderson reviewed this particular job title.
There are other Administrative Secretary positions throughout the city and they may have different or similar responsibilities.
Mrs. Siwierka clarified that the Administrative Secretary position was not reviewed by Susan Anderson.
The Administrative Secretary position has been an exempt position since Chapter 165 was created in 1990. Through an error in payroll, the administrative secretaries were given overtime. There were other employees where that error was made in payroll. Part of the change was to clean that up and correct it, Ms. Deery is correct: Ms. Fike was the Administrative Secretary until she retired and when she came back, she became the Secretary and Mrs. Billman was promoted to Administrative Secretary. As an Administrative Secretary she is entitled to overtime after 40 hours worked, at time for time, not time and a half. But this was not a position that was reviewed. The duties haven’t changed, so to change the title, you may have the Department of Labor coming in and will question why the change, based on what? The duties have remained exactly the same. The issue is time and a half versus time for time, straight time or overtime, that’s the difference.
Mr. Baird asked what the work hours are for the clerk’s office. He asked because he had noticed Mrs. Billman at the office before City Hall is even opened. Mrs. Bullocks said that Mrs. Billman was given the hours of 6:30 – 3:00 by the previous clerk. Mr. Bullocks said the one problem he had was when the other person in the office was off then the office would be closed after 3:00. Mrs. Billman said that if the other secretary, Ms. Rosado, is off then Mrs. Billman would stay until 4:30 to keep the office open. There is no overtime involved with Mrs. Billman coming in at those early hours.
Mr. Baird said that as the Safety Service Director indicated, there doesn’t seem to be a real reason to change it and that is his feeling as well.
Mr. Bullocks said that the reason that the issue was brought up was because Mrs. Billman didn’t meet some of the criteria that was in the Fair Labor Standards. One of those issues is that the employee would have to make over $47,000 and Mr. Bullocks isn’t sure if Mrs. Billman makes over that amount to be classified as a supervisor. She is a Secretary just like Ms. Rosado.
Mr. Pileski said that there are other Administrative Secretaries so we have to be careful, we don’t want to have a snowball effect with others coming forward to have their title changed to a non-exempt position.
Mrs. Siwierka reminded the committee that there are other criteria for exemption and the position has been exempt since 1990. There are other exemptions, for example she is working for elected officials and there is confidentiality involved. It clearly was an error in payroll that has now been corrected. She still gets overtime after 40 hours worked, but it’s time for time, not time and a half.
Mr. Stewart feels that if we make this change, others may want to have the same consideration. He would recommend to stay with the course of what has been put in place.
Mr. Tanner asked what the difference between Secretary and Administrative Secretary would be. Mr. Bullocks said it’s strictly just a title change. Ms. Deery explained that as of now, there is no Secretary III position that exists, there is Secretary I and Secretary II. So what this referral is proposing is to create a Secretary III position which would mirror what Mrs. Billman’s current roles are, including the same salary. A Secretary III would be a non-exempt position. But it would look very much like an Administrative Secretary position. Again, the City’s Administrative Secretary position was not reviewed. If it was, maybe it would come out that it was exempt, or maybe it would have come out that it was non-exempt.
Mr. Pileski clarified the difference between an exempt position and a non-exempt position; an exempt employee will get ‘time for time’ when they work over 40 hours in a week, if they are non-exempt, they will get ‘time and a half’. That is the difference going from Administrative Secretary, exempt to Secretary III, non-exempt, it’s just the time and a half factor.
Mrs. Siwierka said that by creating a Secretary III position, it could open a ‘can of worms’. It would need to be determined if it was Civil Service protected, which opens up a whole different thing. The ‘Administrative Secretary’ positions have always been exempt.
Mr. Stewart said that Mrs. Billman’s situation is unique to itself. He is in favor of leaving it the way that it is, that she is classified as Administrative Secretary. It’s nothing against Carol, she does a fantastic job for Council, but he feels that is the best way to go forward with this matter.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to get the matter on the floor.
The motion is on the floor and the committee needs to vote.
All in favor of the change, signify by saying Aye = 0
All opposed, signify by saying Nay = 4
REFERRED BY: Law Director Serazin
Mayor Brinda said this was brought forward by Law Director Serazin. Elyria, like many cities, is in this unfortunate situation. It tends to be compounded in our urban area. The local government fund is declining as a result of funds being referred to opioid programs. We need to do everything we can to address this at the root cause. Research backs up the fact that this epidemic started with the drug companies who took a drug that was originally to be prescribed for those with chronic pain associated with terminal illnesses. It’s been over-prescribed and we are now living with the outcome of it.
The city of Dayton was the first city to do this and was followed by Lorain and 5 more since then. It makes sense for Elyria to do this, especially since it’s on a contingency basis.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to recommend the approval to authorize the Mayor to enter into a contract with Attorney Brian K. Balser to represent Elyria in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and suppliers of opioids on a contingency basis.
6. The matter of the donation of City funds for improvements to 106 Middle Avenue which was donated to the Community Investment Corporation.
REFERRED BY: Finance Director Pileski
Mr. Pileski stated that since this matter has been referred, the City has determined that it’s not legal for tax money to be donated to the CIC. So, since Issue 6 is tax money, the question now becomes rather than donate money to the CIC, can the City directly pay for the repairs with Issue 6 money? There is money appropriated in economic Development Department of the Issue 6 Fund. It is clear that we cannot donate money to The Community Improvement Corporation, but we can pay the contractor directly from City Funds.
Mayor Brinda explained that this property was a donation from the Schmittgen Family. The property is Kimberly Plaza on the Square. It’s a prime piece of Real Estate. The Building Department did a thorough inspection. It’s in very good shape. The CIC determined that it’s a good value and good for Economic Development for Downtown so we could have some control over the property. There were a number of inquiries. There is someone who has been working with our Community Development Department and she would like to open a Bridal/Dress Shop. This prospective tenant has been successful at applying for other monies and has communicated to the City that she is willing to sign a long term lease and willing to make some major improvements to the building itself. The repairs are just reconfiguration of walls to accommodate the bridal shop. They will replace the carpets and refinish the floors on the second floor.
The property is currently valued at $94,000 and they have offered to make $20,000 worth of improvements. The Mayor is asking for the City to fund the improvements for the reconfiguration that it will take to make the building a retail store to accommodate the bridal/dress shop. A case can be made for Economic Development.
Mr. Madison wanted to clarify that $10,000 is to be taken out of Issue 6 Funds and used for the repairs and not to donate the money to the CIC? Mayor Brinda answered, yes, that is correct.
Mr. Baird said that this is worth while and positive and that’s what we’re looking for the Economic Development money to be use for.
Mr. Stewart stated he would support the project and a good opportunity to use those funds.
Mr. Pileski reminded that there is money appropriated in the Economic Development account under Issue 6 Fund.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to recommend the donation of City funds for improvements to the building located at 106 Middle Avenue which has been donated to the Community Investment Corporation.
REFERRED BY: Finance Director Pileski
Mr. Pileski said regarding the 2016 half percent income tax fund, that the Police Department is not spending everything that is appropriated for wages. The Police Chief requested $50,000 to be moved from Salary & Wages to Capital Outlay for a Van for the Special Response Team. Mrs. Siwierka said the current Special Response Team van is a 20-year-old Brinks Truck that was donated to the City. The mechanics have kept it on the road. It’s certainly not the right type of modern technology vehicle. The chief came forward asking that we consider money to order this vehicle that will be used by the Special Response Team, Swat situations, hostage situations. It’s specially equipped vehicle for weather. The Sheriffs Department has one. It’s similar to a tank, but it’s not a tank. The $50,000 is to buy this vehicle that will already be equipped.
Mr. Baird wanted to be assured that there were not any other avenues that might be available to get another donated vehicle. Mrs. Siwierka said that they are not aware of any.
Mr. Madison asked how many times we’ve used the current vehicle. Mrs. Siwierka and Mr. Brubaker stated that it’s used frequently several times a month. Mr. Brubaker said it’s also been used in drug raids. But, it hasn’t been used for sometime because it’s sitting at CMG. They can’t use it. They are currently using an old cargo van.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to amend the 2017 Permanent Appropriations per discussed.
Mayor Brinda wanted to bring the attention to committee members regarding the memo that was put in their mailboxes. The memo is regarding a proposed Economic Development Contract. She asked everyone to look at it. The contract is for less than $50,000 and she would like everyone to agree. She would like council’s blessing. It needs to be a team approach. There a 2 projects that came from recommendations for Jump Start Elyria and The Redevelopment Plan for the Mall. One is for a project on the Washington Ave parking lot and higher end residential housing near Midway Mall. In order to advance those projects they need design work done, which is what this request is for.
Mr. Stewart said he would like to call a Strategic Planning Meeting to discuss this issue further. That meeting would take place November 6th and he would confirm that with Mr. Lotko and confirm back with the Mayor. If Council has any questions between now and then, they should contact the Mayor’s office and then the issue will be discussed on November 6th.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to adjourn the Committee Meeting at 8:01 P.M.
Colleen Rosado, Secretary