The Bridgeport Police Department recently received a $1 hourly pay raise for both full-time and part-time officers.
The raise was presented to village council in the form of an ordinance. Councilman David Smith, who is the chairman of the finance committee, said the committee met several times on the matter.
"The police chief was the only one to come to council and submit a wage request, and it took us unfortunately seven or eight months to get everything handled," Smith said. "We crunched some numbers, had some good communication at our last finance meeting with me, (David) Coyne and (Carol) Lyle. Agnes Hess (the village fiscal officer) gave her blessing for the police department's request."
Police Chief Andrew H. Klotz originally asked for a $2 hourly raise for the department. The $1 wage increase came at the recommendation of Hess. Klotz was not aware the department would receive a raise at Tuesday's council meeting.
"I am going to ask that Chief Klotz expound upon the necessity of the raise and the part-timers' necessity to increase that due to the lack of staffing," Smith said at the meeting.
The department has four full-time officers and seven part-time officers.
Within the next month, two officers will leave their full-time positions and drop down to part-time officers. A former officer will return at the beginning of the month.
Council voted unanimously to approve the raise.
Mayor John Callarik said he was not informed of the finance committee's decision.
The village workers that were present, as well as the mayor, all agreed that if one department receives a wage increase, then all of the departments should receive one.
"I was never asked to come to a meeting, ever. I am going to speak up for my office. Loyalty should count for something. I have been here for 17 years. I look way back in the ordinance book and in 1994, the girl that worked in that office was making $6.53 an hour," said the mayor's secretary, Ann Gallagher. "I have been here for 17 years, and I am still making $9.50 and nobody on this council knows all of the stuff that I do. I do more than what is in that office. And I really resent the fact that one outfit is getting a raise and none of us are."
"It should have been talked about," Callarik said. "You know we hold mayor's court and that office does a lot. We take care of all of those tickets and we work with you guys and we are left out. It's not fair."
Hess said she was meeting with Belmont County Auditor Andy Sutak and she would have more information about the budget and would report the findings to the finance committee.
"As chairman of the finance committee, I am willing to sit down and go over any other entity's numbers, and they can present the case for us backed by the fiscal officer's recommendation. I have no problem meeting with them and discussing their situation, but Agnes has to give the blessing as to whether that entity can afford it," Smith said.
Councilman David Coyne, who also sits on the finance committee, reminded Smith that it was stated in the meeting police would receive a raise now and other entities would be considered later. Coyne went on to say he would not agree to one raise, if everyone else did not receive a raise.
"But we have strung our cops out for so long, and we are losing two full-timers and are having a hard time finding part-timers. We have to do something," Smith said.
"You shocked the rest of the people tonight. I think we should have sat down and worked together as a group and not leave anybody out. This is what gets me - I know you guys need a raise and I was never against the raise, but I don't like the way it was handled," Callarik said.
"We got our packer driver, he's making $11 an hour. Our guys out there are working when we don't even have guys to put on the packer. We have to pull them off the street and we can't do our street work. We are short on help there. No one is looking at that."
The finance committee will meet with Hess after she meets with Sutak to see where the other entities stand as far as being able to afford a raise.