A light agenda at Monday’s Wauseon City Council meeting involved accepting contracts brokered between the city police department and its employees’ unions.
Council members waived the standard three readings and passed on emergency resolutions allowing Mayor Kathy Huner to enter into agreements with the Patrol Officers’, Command Officers’, and Records Technicians and Full-Time Dispatchers unions of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
Law Director Tom McWatters III said terms have been reached on all of the contracts. He said the attorney for the police unions is still finishing up the contracts’ changes due to mostly procedural revisions.
Councilor Shane Chamberlin told council members retaining good police officers on the city payroll may not be easy.
“As a city, we have to realize our limitations within our revenue,” he said. “And at some point, we might not be able to compete with some jurisdictions.”
Villages like Delta and Fayette have become training grounds for police officers, who then are hired out to departments that can pay bigger salaries, Chamberlin said.
“We’d like to train them and keep them. But sometimes that’s not possible because of our revenue,” he said.
Huner said it’s important to note that every criteria is different in each city. “We may be the same population…but the tax revenue coming in is totally different than what we have,” she said.
In other business, Councilor Harold Stickley took exception to Finance Director Jamie Giguere’s announcement that city employees will not receive new health insurance cards before the coming week. The city switched its health insurance coverage for 2019 from Medical Mutual of Ohio to its sister company, Mutual Health Services (MHS).
Stickley voiced his annoyance that insurance cards for city employees may not be in hand before Jan. 15. “What do we do in the meantime?” he asked.
He said that during a conference call with an MHS representative Council members were assured the insurance cards would arrive in time.
“I don’t understand where the problem is, because he said it will be no problem,” Stickley said.
When Huner asked if he is a suscriber to the city’s health insurance, Stickley replied, “No, but 65 employees of the city are, and their families.”
Huner told him such delays can be common. She said the city can’t fine MHS for the delay, and said she’s heard no complaints about it from city employees.
In department reports:
• Fire Chief Rick Sluder said the department will now issue monthly reports to Council members and the townships it serves.
• Police Chief Keith Torbet said the department was notified Jan. 2 it has again been awarded the Violence Against Women Act Grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. The council later voted to accept the grant, which the department has received annually and which pays for the department’s victim advocate.
• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson reported his office is conducting the first round of interviews for an operator training position at the city’s water treatment plant. There are seven candidates.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere said the city collected $4.1 million in income tax revenue in 2018, a 2.8 percent decrease from the previous year. She said the Water Reclamation Plant revenue fund was down last year due to a biosolids handling project the city took on and continues to pay for.
Giguere added that the annual results were still positive. “We managed to live within our means, and carried a couple balances forward,” she said.
In new business, Council members approved Huner’s appointments of city officials to boards and commissions. They included: Jeff Stiriz and Steve Schneider, one-year terms on the Charter Revision Committee; Dennis Richardson, a one-year term on the Executive Council of the Maumee Valley Planning Commission; Jeff Stiriz and Melinda Robinson, three-year terms on the Pride Wauseon Preservation and Design Review Board.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.