Groveport considers cost of living increase; also water plant vote on April 14

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By Rick Palsgrove

Southeast Editor

Groveport City Council is considering a cost of living adjustment for city employees’ salaries.

“We’re recommending increasing the current pay scale by 3.55 percent,” Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall wrote in a report to council. “This does not increase current salaries, rather it increases both the minimum, each step, and maximum pay schedules for each pay grade.”

The move would be part of a compensation plan adopted by council in 2012. Under this plan, every two years council reviews whether the city pay schedule is competitive with similar municipalities and then determines if a cost of living adjustment is needed. According to the plan, the adjustments are designed to allow the city “to continue to recruit and retain quality employees…Nothing in this compensation plan forces city council to issue a wage increase.”

The city uses the SERB Wage Survey, CPI-U, CPI-W, Social Security increases, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics regional survey to analyze the cost of living adjustment.

Council will consider the issue further at its upcoming meetings.

Water plant financing update

Council heard the second reading of re-introduced legislation to use $2.18 million in 20-year bonds or bond anticipation notes to finance construction of the city’s new water plant. The ordinance is slated to be voted on by council at its April 14 meeting.

In February, council fell one vote short of approving financing for the new water plant. The vote was 3-2, however, according to the city charter, four votes are needed to pass legislation, so the ordinance failed.

Voting in February for financing the water plant were council members Ed Rarey, Shawn Cleary and Becky Hutson. Opposing it were Jean Ann Hilbert and Ed Dildine, who believe Groveport should connect to Columbus for water service. Councilwoman Donna Drury, who previously voted to build the water plant, has been absent from several council meetings due to illness.

Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon said for the original water plant financing ordinance to be reconsidered, one of the two council members who opposed it would have to bring it forward again. If not, council could consider proposing new legislation and begin the three reading legislative process again. So Rarey re-introduced the legislation and the process began anew.

City administrative officials have been working on plans for the new water plant since June 2012.

Hall said the city cannot enter into a construction contract for the water plant without funding. She said the pre-bid meeting and bid opening for the construction of the water plant have been postponed pending council’s decision on the re-introduced water plant financing ordinance.

She also noted the city has already spent about $200,000 in engineering costs for the proposed water plant.

Hall said plans had been to begin construction of the water plant this spring with the plant expected to be operational by early 2015. She said the water plant would be built between the water tower and the storage barn along South Hamilton Road near the existing water plant.

Hall said the Ohio EPA will require that the city do something about its water situation soon – either build a new water plant or connect to Columbus for water service.

Currently, water rate increases are scheduled for those on the Groveport water system as follows: 20 percent for the first 2014 billing; 20 percent in 2015; 12 percent in 2016; and 3 percent in 2017.

Hall said if Groveport does not build a water plant and connects with Columbus there would still be water rate increases of an undetermined amount. She said city officials would have to explore the water rate increases the city would have with Columbus, as well as review the connection costs, including pressure release valves. She said Groveport would also have to consider the costs involved in whether to enter a master meter or a full service agreement with Columbus.

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