The tape of this meeting is on file in the Council Clerk’s Office.
TO THE HONORABLE COUNCIL, CITY OF ELYRIA, OHIO
The Finance Committee held a meeting on Monday, September 25, 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 9/11/17 Meeting Minutes.
Baird moved and Madison seconded to approve the minutes of the 9/11/2017 Finance Committee Meeting.
2. The matter of a request to authorize the Mayor to advertise and enter into an agreement with a consultant for plans and specifications for resurfacing project on Chestnut Ridge Road, from Dewhurst to Highland Park Drive. REFERRED BY: Engineer Tim Ujvari
Mr. Ujvari said that the City was fortunate enough to receive Federal funding through NOACA. The Engineer’s office is currently in the process to get OPWC Funding for our local match. The dollar amount that we are looking at getting for grants is $670,000. The design is necessary and we will need to get services from outside the staff. The dollar amount for Design is estimated at about $75,000.
Mr. Madison asked what the time line is for this project? Mr. Ujvari said if they get OPWC Funding, they are targeting to start the project in July of next year. If we don’t get OPWC Funding then we could start the project sooner. Mr. Madison thanked Mr. Ujvari and his department for being able to manage so many different projects, throughout the city, which seem to be happening all at once.
Baird moved, seconded by Madison to recommend a request to authorize the Mayor to advertise and enter into an agreement with a consultant for design plans and specifications for resurfacing project on Chestnut Ridge Road.
Mr. Stewart stated the matter is being referred by the Council Clerk and Mr. Bullocks was not in attendance. Mr. Stewart asked if the administration wants to weigh in on this matter. Mayor Brinda stated that they were not aware of it. Mr. Stewart stated this matter is Tabled.
4. The matter of a request to amend the 2017 Permanent Appropriations.REFERRED BY: Assistant Finance Director John Farrell
Mr. Farrell said that there are 2 funds that need appropriation changes.
#1: A request was made by Parks & Rec Director Bowman for the Parks Improvement Fund.
Parks donated swimming lessons this summer. $1,990.00 in salary & wages and $338.00 in benefits is for payroll for those swimming lessons. That expense will be transferred over from ‘Special Parks’ Fund.
#2: WWPC Fund Miscellaneous Dept. to transfer $2,074,112 in Capital Outlay which is part of the East Ave. Cost Distribution. When the original budget was done, it was prior to the bids coming out for the project. Now that we have the bids, we will increase that appropriation.
Mr. Baird asked if he understands that what was estimated was correct. Mr. Farrell said that the original amount of this project wasn’t budgeted at all into the WWPC Fund. There were other projects that comprised that one million, five. The $2,074,112 is being added into that line item to cover the East Ave. portion of the Capital Outlay for that project. Mr. Baird clarified that there will be an additional 2 million dollars allocated for that? Mr. Farrell said this money is what is what we are borrowing for from bonds for the project. There is OPWC monies and a portion of the project is coming out of the water fund and storm water fund. Mr. Ujvari wanted to clarify the issue. The East Avenue relief sewer project was accounted for. The money that was initially allocated was out of the Waste Water Fund. And there are other funds that they will be drawing from on that particular project. The project was initially allocated 100% under Waster Water and now it’s being divided up between Waste Water, Storm Water, OPWC and Water Funds.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to amend the 2017 Permanent Appropriations per discussed.
REFERRED BY: Mayor Brinda and Safety Director Siwierka
Mr. Farrell passed out a salary analysis of the Police Chief salary vs Captain salary and patrolmen salary. It shows gross wages for 2015, 2016 and year to date for 2017. The Chief’s subordinates salaries are based on the salary ordinance being increased. There is 14.5 percent difference between ranks. Each time the EPPA is given an increase the Captains wage gets closer to the Chief’s wages. One of the notary administrative Captains is in Chapter 165 non-bargaining unit and the other 2 notary non- administrative Captains are out of the FOP. All the administrative and non-administrative Captains are Notary which gives them an extra $850.00 per year verses administrative Captain. You can see for this year, the Chief’s salary is $87,603 and the notary administrative Captain is $83,422. The EPPA Contract is a 3-year deal and in the 1st pay period of 2018 they will receive another 2% increase which will bring the Captain’s salary to $85,074.
Mr. Stewart asked the Mayor to reiterate the thought process on this issue. Mayor Brinda started by reminding everyone that on August 25th she put through a detailed referral which was a follow-up referral from the director’s earlier referral. She wants everyone to keep in mind while examining the leadership positions in these departments, that when you look at other communities of the same size as Elyria, the majority has taken the strategy of offering a salary range rather that a set salary. Which gives negotiating power to Mayors and directors that Elyria doesn’t have. When you compare the base of the Police Chief and the Engineer, Parks Director, Economic Director as well, our base is lower than the median. She would like to position us somewhere in the middle so that we can at least be competitive by offering a base salary somewhere in the middle which would calibrate a range that would be negotiating power and to heighten the ceiling of the salary so that we can be competitive. In some cases we’re not even in the middle. With some of those positions, we could require an annual review and provide an annual cost of living increase. It’s a way to be more competitive with these hard to fill positions.
As an example the position for Economic Development Director has been posted since the beginning of this year and the position has been offered but has not been filled because of the salary. We may be in that same dilemma with the Parks Director and Engineer positions that will become available soon. We really should look at making some adjustments as these positions come up, even with the current budget, because the leadership is so important and we don’t want to be a training ground, we need folks with some experience.
Mr. Serazin brought up that these based on the Charter, these are Civil Service positions and there had to be a test. Who makes that decision to set the salary? Mayor Brinda said that is part of the discussion.
Mr. Serazin said that we could take the Chief out of Civil Service and make it a non-classified position and then we can hire whom ever we want and at whatever salary we want. The salary would have to be set and the employee would have to take it. And the people who work for the City already will have longevity built up, that could cause a complication. If we create a range, those positions would have to be taken out of classified civil service.
Mrs. Siwierka said that the law director is correct; we would have to change to paradigm of how we promote and the tests that we give, but if it’s someone that is considering taking the test to be Chief there should be options that the candidate should know of the options. According to the chart, it shows that the subordinates under the chief are making more money because the equalizer of longevity is no longer keeping up because once you get to 20% it stops. We just have to think about a different paradigm of how we pay. If we do it through an appointment and not a test, it’s no different than if we were appointing an Engineer or Parks Director.
Mr. Craig had some questions. 1.) How many increases has the Chief received over the past 10 years?
2.) What are the increases based on? 3.) How often is he evaluated? 4.) What is the current mechanism for giving raises?
Mrs. Siwierka said the Chief gets raises when City Council changes the salaries that go with Chapter 165. Normally, when the other unions have negotiated their contracts, then City Council changes 165. We’re not keeping up with the increases, the ratio is not staying the same. The negotiated settlements are creating a bigger gap. The 2nd page of Mr. Farrell’s hand-out shows the wage increases that were given to Chapter 165; July 2006 = 2%, July 2007 = 2.5%, July 2008 = 3%, Dec. 2011 = 1%, June 2012 = 1.5%. In the Chiefs case the longevity increases have stopped since he is past 20 years, the Captains are also over 20 years.
Mr. Serazin suggested that Council make up a differential that would make up for the lack of base pay that would compensate the Chief for the lack of increase in Chapter 165 base pay which seems to be narrowing the gap. And the Chief would also receive pay raises along with his subordinates, but his rate would be a certain percent higher. Most other cities have separate salaries as applied to the Police and Fire Chiefs. But it has to be a definite figure or a way to calculate that figure based on a differential.
Mrs. Siwierka said that if you took the chief’s salary at $89,000 and added 15% and even with longevity, he will still make less because the others are earning overtime which the chief does not and he will never catch up. For many years the Chapter 165 employees have been given the 1% or 2% increase. What the administration is suggesting is a whole different paradigm, get rid of longevity and have a range that allows for more flexibility depending on qualifications and experience. Many communities that test for the Chief positions have salary ranges.
Mr. Serazin reminded Mrs. Siwierka and Council that we are a Charter City. In the past it’s been simple, the chief has a high salary and almost always has over 20 years of longevity.
You could add a differential on top of the Chief’s salary. The overtime thing is a whole different kind of calculation. They do get comp time and no where on this chart is that calculated. If you’re going to have a salary range, who will make that range, the Administration, Civil Service Commission? It’s arbitrary, if you put someone in there [Chiefs position] and set the salary and you don’t have a test, there could be a lawsuit.
Mayor Brinda said that data can help determine the range, if we collect information from other communities. She said they could do further homework and bring it back to council. It’s pretty clear that other communities have figured it out.
Mr. Korzan, WWPC Plant Superintendent spoke to Council stating that he understands what the Mayor and Director are trying to do with this issue. Mr. Korzan stated that a vast majority of management at the WWPC Plant are at or beyond or close to retirement. When positions are posted and people look at the salaries, they don’t even consider it. He thinks something like a range would be a good idea. So you can at least get people in and be considered. About 95% of the plants management will be gone within the next 3 years, due to retirement. We really want people who know what they’re doing to fill these fields. Mr. Korzan just wanted to make the comment of how he sees it, as a department head.
Chief Whitely spoke and said that years ago they ran into issues of trying to promote through the ranks. They just couldn’t get candidates to even take the tests because their outlook was, that if they promote up, they would go from decent days off and shift pick to the worst days off and working afternoon shift for only a 9% pay raise. The amount of overtime wasn’t available for supervisors as it was for patrolman. That is why the City went to 14.5% between ranks. You have to have supervisors that are quality people. If someone’s sole goal is to promote up so they can say they are at that rank, that is more of an ego driven person as opposed to a good supervisor. We now get more senior people to take the test with the 14.5% increases. Six people just passed the sergeants test that was recently given. There is $2,600 difference in salary between the chief and the captain and there is $2,100 in bonus pay that the Chief doesn’t. Captains get extra weeks vacation, extra holiday, different bereavement leave package, etc. So most employees that are ranked at a Captain, would not want to even consider taking the Chief’s test. Chief Whitely said that he approached the Director to say that he wants the same benefits and same rate differential that the Captains get. Something has to be done, he said he could leave anytime, eventually he’ll retire and we need to be able to replace that position with someone qualified.
Mr. Baird said this is an unfortunate situation that we’ve gotten ourselves into, which has developed over the years. He is all for paying the top people the top pay. Good leadership goes down through the ranks. The biggest problem is the General Fund. Council needs more information in order to move forward.
Mr. Stewart said council needs to gather more information from the Law Director’s office, the Administration and Finance Director and come back to the Finance Committee and ultimately onto full Council. Mr. Stewart asked for the administration to provide the information of other communities that have enacted what was proposed and discussed here today.
Mr. Madison asked if it makes sense for us to have the conversation on cost savings before we discuss the increases across the board. The Police Chief and all the employees work very hard and are deserving. The question is, how do we address the financial situation and how do we prepare for it. Does it make sense for us to tackle the cost savings and understand where the budget is going to line up before we dive into moving forward with salaries. He asked when will the budget and cost savings recommendation process begin? Mr. Stewart said that discussion is on the horizon.
Mayor Brinda did say that the administration submitted a list of cost saving items that were thoughts for discussion. She said they are open for discussion at any time. The budgeting process for 2018 will begin earlier than last year. We do need to look at as many cost saving measures as we possibly can.
Mr. Madison asked for the docket of the grants that we’ve received, applied for, and any potential rebates that have come in within this last fiscal year that would help guide the budget conversation.
Mr. Lotko said that the plan is to have the budget discussion in October, after the sanitation rate discussion. The salary matter will go into pending items and back on the agenda at a later date.
6. The Matter of Ratifying and Authorizing the Mayor to sign an agreement with AFSCME #277.
Mrs. Siwierka said that everyone should have received a copy of the AFSCME agreement that has been tentatively settled with that union. Also, handed out was a 3 page memo that outlines 13 areas that are of importance. Minimum pay has been reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours, minimum was already illuminated in Chapter 165. The probationary period has been changed from 60 days to 90 days. Also, we have tightened the sick leave abuse. Rest periods are 15 minutes, which doesn’t include travel time to their break. Equalization of overtime, records of discipline, overtime lists. Then it came down to the wages; 2 and a half percent for 2017 & 2018, 2 and a half percent for 2018 & 2019 and a wage re-opener for 2019 & 2020. This is a 3-year agreement. The union voted; 54 for and 2 against.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to recommend the approval to authorize the Mayor to sign the agreement with AFSCME #277 and the City of Elyria.
Mr. Farrell said that this will incorporate the 2 and a half percent increase which will be retroactive to September 1, 2017.
Baird moved, Madison seconded to recommend the approval of an Ordinance to Amend Ordinance #2016-6, the Salary Ordinance to adjust the wages for AFSCME #277.
Colleen Rosado, Secretary