City of Martins Ferry, Police Union Have Three-Year Contract

Martins Ferry City Council on Wednesday approved a new three-year contract for members of the city’s police department.

During the past several weeks, city leaders negotiated the new agreement with members of the Fraternal Order of Police union, which represents officers in the city. Mayor Robert Krajnyak described the contract as fair for both the city and the department’s officers.

“They work very hard and risk their lives every day. The people have spoken when they passed the levy, saying they wanted police protection. They were willing to pay for it, and I think is a step in that direction that we continue good, solid police protection within the city of Martins Ferry,” the mayor said following the council meeting.

According to information provided by Krajnyak, patrolmen will earn $22.81 per hour in 2019; $23.33 per hour in 2020; and $23.91 per hour in 2021. Sergeants will make $26.23 per hour in 2019; $26.82 per hour in 2020; and $27.49 per hour in 2021. First-year patrolmen will earn $19.39 per hour in 2019; $19.83 per hour in 2020; and $20.32 per hour in 2021.

Officers will also receive a 35-cent shift differential for midnight shifts and a 30-cent shift differential for afternoon shifts. Regarding health insurance, the city will pay 88 percent of the cost, while officers will pay 12 percent. New hires will pay 15 percent and the city will pay 85 percent.

If an officer decides not to participate in the insurance coverage, they will receive a $400 cash payment for each month they waive the family insurance coverage. Those who wish to waive the family coverage and use single coverage will receive a $250 payment for each month. Officers who are single and waive single coverage will receive a $300 payment for each month.

Officers will receive a uniform allowance of $1,000 per year.

In other matters, council also approved making city accounts clerk Trisha Headly the deputy auditor while Auditor Rita Randall is recovering at Good Shepherd Nursing Home from surgery. Krajnyak said for the past few weeks, Headly has had to travel back and forth from the hospital to get Randall’s signature on various city-related documents. Now Headly won’t have to do that.

“She has the same authority as what the auditor does,” he said after the meeting.

There was no mention during the meeting as to when Randall might come back to work.

Also, Council Clerk Laura Zupko submitted a letter of resignation, citing family matters to which she must attend. She will stay on until the city can find a replacement.

Zupko was hired in 2018. Her other full-time job is as court administrator for Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Fregiato.

Council also discussed issues surrounding some semi-truck drivers traveling to and from United Dairy taking narrow streets and getting stuck on curbs. Service Director Scott Porter said he is in the process of having new truck-route signage made to put up in the city. He also plans to have the truck route printed on sheets of paper to give to the dairy so it can distribute it to drivers.

Regarding an idea to possibly do away with some stop signs on Zane Highway, Krajnyak said Police Chief John McFarland wrote a letter to council saying he did not agree with the idea.

“He polled the officers as to what they felt, being that they are on the road. According to the letter, they expressed concern that removing the signs would make it less safe for the citizens and kids out on the streets. He asked that we would consider not removing any of the stop signs,” Krajnyak said.

Councilman Jack Regis Sr. said he would still like to explore maybe taking down a couple signs to see what kind of impact it would have on the traffic on the road. Councilman James Schramm said he believed the intersections of Walnut and Zane and Catawba and Zane could be considered in the future for a stop sign removal test.

In other matters, Councilman Bruce Shrodes said he wants the city’s three-garbage can ordinance enforced and for people to start picking up their stray garbage. He said when animals, such as birds, cats and dogs, get into people’s trash they need to clean it up, as the city’s sanitation workers do not have time to pick up litter.

“It is inexcusable. … It is not their job. Their job is hard enough as it is,” Shrodes said.

Meanwhile, Porter noted that following the sub-zero temperatures the region recently experienced, the city received 200 calls regarding residents’ frozen and broken pipes. Before Porter cited this information, Regis inquired as to whether people who experienced this hardship could get a break on their water bills. Porter said the utility department could possibly set up special payments for people.

Councilman Robert Hunker was absent Wednesday because he was sick.

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