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Better pay for future deputy SSD

EAST LIVERPOOL — City councilman Scott Barrett allowed his vote to refute a rumor Tuesday night.

Due to Martin Luther King holiday, East Liverpool city council’s regular meeting was held a day later, and among the pieces of legislation was a pay increase for the person who eventually would be named deputy safety-service director. Barrett, who represents the city’s Fourth Ward, wanted to make it crystal clear after he didn’t abstain from that vote.

It wouldn’t be him.

The meeting followed a brief Finance Committee special meeting to consider the legislation, which increased the hourly pay for the post from $21.65 to $23.50 for the first six months of tenure and then up to $25 per hour after meeting the conditions to get off probation.

The deputy safety-service director oversees the streets (45 percent), refuse (45 percent) and stormwater (10 percent) departments of the city, each will pay a portion of his wages.

Barrett serves neighboring St. Clair Township as their road supervisor and was thought to be a top contender for the post; however, if he decided to take the city job, he would not only have to abstain from this vote under the Ohio Revised Code but also resign his council seat due to a potential conflict of interest.

He earns $7,000 annually as a city councilman, and the city has had five road supervisors within the last eight years, according to his memory.

City Safety-Service Director David Dawson confirmed to the committee, which includes Jeff Kreefer and Ray Perorazio, that he does have a few people in mind for the job; however, he has been unable to get any bites – primarily because the pay is too low considering the level of responsibilities and the risk is too high. “If we want good candidates to apply, we should have raised this a long time ago,” Dawson said, adding that he also wants to deal with the job security issue at a later time.

Currently the post is an at-will employee with little job security especially if the mayor who hires him fails to win re-election.

Back in 2007, the equivalent post earned the occupant $26.87 per hour in comparison, a fact that Perorazio said that he was unaware had plummeted so significantly.

Mayor Greg Bricker said that he believed the wage was decreased more than a decade ago, when officials restructured the road superintendent job into the deputy director post. He confirmed that concerns about pay, longevity and skyrocketing health care have been concerns of candidates.

At-large councilman Craig Stowers, who ultimately cast the lone “no” vote against the pay hike, said that it wasn’t that the post deserved the recommended amount, but the timing was bad – especially considering the loss of the traffic camera revenue, disfunctional fire hydrants throughout the city and a recent decision to pursue a levy due to finances.

Bricker’s question for Stowers was “when is going to be a good time,” which failed to draw a response.

“This is about getting someone in the job to move the (neglected) departments forward,” explained Dawson, who couldn’t assure Perorazio that it would enable the city to do a in-house blacktop program. “I’m looking at that from an engineer’s perspective, and I think that should be left to the professionals.”

The Finance Committee agreed to introduce the legislation at the meeting of council, which later agreed to the increase, 6-1.

After the meeting, city Auditor Marilyn Bosco predicted that pay hike would represent an extra $6,000 over 12 months for the future deputy safety-service director.

Council also accepted a $20,000 donation from the Columbiana County Commission to help defray costs to staff city police officers part-time on the county’s Drug Task Force.

In other action, councilmembers announced upcoming meetings of the committees, which include Finance at 3 p.m. Jan. 28, Safety at 4 p.m. Jan. 30; and Economic Development at 5 p.m. Feb. 11.

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