(Posted May 13, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London city council and city administrators are at odds over proposed salary increases for city department heads.
Department heads are not covered by union contracts. Individuals in those positions have not received raises since 2012. In some instances, employees are surpassing their supervisors in pay.
Mayor David Eades asked council to appropriate money for salary increases of up to 5 percent for the safety-service director, police chief, fire chief, parks and recreation director, tax director, street superintendent, water superintendent, sanitation department and administrative office manager.
With the raises, Eades said, salaries for London’s department heads would be comparable if not still lower than those of other similar cities.
While they don’t deny that department heads have been waiting for raises while other employees have received raises, council members expressed two primary concerns about the proposed increases. They said only half of the department’s budgets could absorb raises of 3 percent, let alone 5 percent. Several also said they want to see employee evaluations of the department heads before voting on raises.
According to calculations made by city auditor Katie Hensel, the police, street, sewer, sanitation and water departments have enough money in their 2015 budgets to absorb 3 percent raises for their department heads. The departments that can’t, she calculated, are parks and recreation, safety-service, tax and fire.
Eades countered that the city has a projected $500,000 carryover in funds and, therefore, can appropriate money to cover all of the proposed raises.
Regarding council’s desire to see department head evaluations, Eades said council’s responsibility is legislative only. Citing Ohio Revised Code, he said council cannot evaluate employees or recommend raises; they can only appropriate money for such raises.
Council president Pat Closser countered, “We should be able to see that information to make an appropriate decision,” adding that council has asked the administration for copies of department head evaluations several times, but has not received them.
City law director Zahid Siddiqi confirmed Closser’s position, stating that as stewards of taxpayer dollars, city council needs information to make decisions that they can later justify to the public.
Stan Kavy, Board of Public Utilities board member, said BPU would be happy to comply with council’s request for evaluations, but said he doesn’t have a standard form to go by.
Herb Eades echoed Kavy’s concern, adding, “We wouldn’t recommend them to get a raise if they weren’t doing a good job.” He also asked council to approve the raises and make them retroactive to the first of the year.
Hensel stated that a standard evalu-ation form does exist and that copies are available at her office.
Council left the salary request legislation on first reading. They will revisit it for a second reading at the next council meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. May 21 in council chambers, 6 E. Second St., London.