DELPHOS — Delphos City Council rejected an emergency ordinance that would have essentially restored the salaries of department heads in the city.
Councilors voted 4-2 in favor of the measure, one vote short of the required five to pass it as an emergency, to give a 7.5 percent pay increase to the city’s salaried workers, including the police and fire chiefs, water, wastewater and maintenance superintendents and the safety services director. Councilors Andy Knueve and Josh Gillespie voted “no.”
Gillespie said his “no” vote was based on not wanting council members to first review it without seeing the 2015 budget, and Knueve said given the city’s current financial condition, he didn’t feel the timing was right. Councilman Joe Martz was not at the meeting.
Delphos Mayor Mike Gallmeier addressed the council before the vote, saying he felt the raises were in order.
“It is different when you are terminating employees,” Gallmeier said. “However, these are people that have been doing their jobs for years. Three of these people submitted a request for reduction of wages to help this city get through that hump. We have cut our staff from 49 to 34, so these people are doing more work for less money. Now that we are in a better situation, I think we should give that back what we offered to take the position and what they accepted.”
Gallmeier said the move sends a negative message to the hardworking department heads, and that it leaves the village in a bad position of finding replacements if good workers would choose to resign.
Councilors briefly discussed removing the emergency designation on the ordinance, which would have resulted in needing only a simple majority to pass, or four votes. The main difference in a non-emergency passage would have meant the ordinance needed 30 days to take effect instead of immediately. However, it was kept as an emergency when called to a vote.
It likely is not the last the council has seen of the issue. Councilor Del Kemper said the issue would be raised again for a possible vote at its next budget meeting, which was scheduled for Monday.
In other business, the council selected Fibracast based out of Ontario to provide the membrane replacement system at the city wastewater plant.
Michael Atherine from Poggemeyer Design Group gave a brief presentation on the evaluation process for the company’s selection, which was out of four companies, including OVIVO-OV400, which currently provides membranes to the city. Atherine said that the first phase of the project will cost about $1.5 million, which would include a one-year pilot, new parts including the membranes, and designing, bidding and constructing the replacement system. The pilot would also include a free worker for training purposes during the pilot.
Phase two of the project was projected at a cost of $4 million,which would have the system fully functioning by late 2016, early 2017.
Atherine said the city’s next steps would be to meet with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Public Works Commission to discuss details of the project. The city has secured a $252,000 grant and a $640,000 loan for purchase of the replacement.