WHEELING - Anyone who puts out fires, writes tickets or picks up garbage for the city of Wheeling is set to receive a 2 percent pay increase, pending passage of a budget resolution by City Council.
At a meeting of council's Finance Committee immediately prior to the regular council session Tuesday, committee members approved City Manager Robert Herron's recommendation to spend $260,000 worth of the city's $1.01 million cash balance from fiscal 2011-12 to fund 2 percent pay raises for all full-time workers. The full council must now vote to amend the budget to enact the raises.
Councilman Don Atkinson, emphasizing Wheeling has not provided employees with many raises in recent years, asked Herron and fellow council members during the finance session if the city could do more.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms, left, and Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger listen during the City Council meeting Tuesday.
"Two percent is not a whole heck of a lot of a raise. I am just trying to help them out," he said.
However, Herron said he prefers to budget conservatively, so he could not recommend additions to the 2 percent, which will be a permanent increase. Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey agreed with Herron, saying, "You've got to be careful in what you are promising in future deals."
Mayor Andy McKenzie said the city's economy is in a period of "enormous growth," citing increased activity from the Upper Ohio Valley's natural gas drilling boom. If this pattern continues, McKenzie said, perhaps the city could offer workers an additional one-time payment over the course of the 2012-13 fiscal year, which will run until June 30.
Some of Herron's other spending plans for the cash balance include:
- $300,000 for the restricted capital improvement fund;
- $250,000 for street paving (in addition to the $180,000 worth of street paving to be covered by federal Community Development Block Grant money);
- $13,500 for three AED units for the fire department;
- $20,000 for body armor for the police department; and
- $36,000 for the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority.
During the regular council meeting, members voted 6-0, with Councilman Robert "Herk" Henry absent, to approve stop signs for Valley View Avenue at its intersection with Biltmore Avenue and Betty Street. Members previously tabled the matter so they could study it more after several residents voiced strong opinions on the matter.
Atkinson said he is "dead set against this stop sign," but agreed to vote for its installation anyway, citing the preferences of his fellow council members.
Another ordinance to create a no parking zone in the Gaewood Avenue area of Elm Grove died for lack of a second.
Members also voted 6-0 on two readings to pass an ordinance to spend $847,368 with Berry, Bippus, Chison & Foose for general liability insurance for the new fiscal year.
Fahey took the floor to congratulate Herron and city Finance Director Michael Klug for working to keep Wheeling's finances in order.
"There is a very good feeling in the city. And when I say the city, I mean downtown," Fahey added.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 7.