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St. Clairsville City Council Debates Employee Raises

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank St. Clairsville Councilmen Frank Sabatino, left, and Mark Bukmir speak Monday with resident Bill Brooks prior to Monday’s meeting. Topics included pay increases for non-union employees.

St. Clairsville City Council discussed a proposed 3% pay increase for all non-union employees Monday and asked Law Director Elizabeth Glick to revise the legislation for an annual raise instead of one every three years.

The last increase was 3% in 2019. Councilman Perry Basile said in prior years there had always been an increase in pay for non-union employees when union members received an increase.

Councilman Frank Sabatino asked that council members be provided a list of the superintendents who would be impacted by the increase and what their current pay is.

Councilwoman Beth Oprisch asked what the cost for three years would be. She also asked what the last increase came to. She was told the last raise was about 2.5%, but exact amounts will be produced.

“The only reason I suggested three years is because it’s just easier not to keep revisiting every year,” Finance Director Annette Williams said. “The union has a three-year contract.”

“It’ll be all admin staff,” Public Service and Safety Director Jeremy Greenwood said. “Receptionists, secretaries, assistants, that have been here longer than six months.”

“Would that include those who just received raises?” Jordan said. “There are a few who just recently received raises … within the last few months.”

“The new (recreation) superintendent would not, but some of the other ones could potentially, if they’ve been here longer than six months,” Greenwood said, referring to the recent resignation of the recreation superintendent and the ongoing search for a new one.

Councilman Mark Bukmir brought up the upcoming census results, which St. Clairsville expects to have in the fall. There has been concern that St. Clairsville may lose its city status, since census projections have it hovering close to the 5,000-population mark.

“If we’re not a city, and we still approve a three-year contract, these raises, we may not have the funds to pay those wages in Year Three if we’re not a city,” he said.

“To avoid that, wouldn’t it be prudent to have it one year? … Then you can see where you’re at, year in and year out. Even if you have to vote on it every year, at least you know where you’re at fiscally.”

Williams will also determine how much an annual increase this would come to.

In other matters, Greenwood also reported the city has had about 29 waterline breaks so far, compared to 33 last year.

“We’re halfway through the year approximately and we’re already on pace to (go beyond) the number of breaks,” he said.

However, Greenwood also reported water loss for June was below 30%.

“That’s the first time it’s been below 30% since I’ve been here,” Greenwood said. He was hired in 2020. “We kind of attribute that to some of the breaks that we’re finding and fixing.”

St. Clairsville Police Chief Matt Arbenz also reported bicycles were found at the bike trail. He suggested establishing a bicycle registry to allow missing bicycles to be readily identified and returned.

Council also passed an ordinance accepting the initial 2022 budget, to be submitted to the county auditor’s office. Williams said the final amounts have not been set.

“We are working (on) several projects for next year, but nothing will be finalized until we get our final year-end figures,” Williams said in a later email.

Also, Williams reported the city is receiving federal recovering money totalling $269,262. It would be spent on infrastructure.

“It will be 10 to 12 days before we get the money,” she said.

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