Lima needs clear salary plan

First Posted: 11/19/2014

A bigger issue is being overlooked as salary increases and freezes are being bantered about Lima City Council’s Finance Committee.

It has to do with the current top brass at City Hall, many who have held their jobs for more than 20 years. What happens when they decide to ride off into the sunset?

For instance:

Lima Mayor David Berger’s salary was $120,413 during 2013.

Let’s say he decided to retire at the end of his term.

What would be the starting pay for the new mayor of Lima?

If you guessed $120,413, you’re correct.

That doesn’t seem right, does it?

Here we have Dave Berger, who for nearly 30 years, has been front and center in Lima on everything from economic development to race relations and downtown revitalization to sewer repairs. He was the leading force in saving the refinery back in 1998 and has lobbied on the city’s behalf in Washington, D.C., and Columbus.

Berger’s $120,413 salary includes merit increases for all those accomplishments.

Then he quits and along comes this new person, Mayor “X.” He or she hasn’t done a thing yet besides making a bunch of campaign promises. Yet, under the current system, Lima taxpayers would be required to pay the new “Mayor X” the same wage Berger was receiving. This comes without any idea as to whether the new person is going to live up to his or her promises or will end up being a big bag of wind.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

A phone call to finance chair Tom Tebben found that legislative action could be adopted to keep a person new to a position from automatically starting at the same wage level of his or her predecessor. Doing so comes with all kinds of complications, however.

That’s why City Council needs to move this issue to the front burner. It’s better to be proactive and take time to scrutinize things before it becomes an issue then to wait until people start retiring and emotions cloud an already difficult course of action.

Because the finance committee is already pondering pay increases and temporary freezes for some elected officials, why not expand that committee’s focus to address the starting salary of new mayors and their administrative staffs?

Better yet, also discuss pay caps for those positions.

Lima needs to begin addressing the transformation issues it will be facing down the road when the Berger regime begins to retire. The time is right to do it now.

ROSES AND THORNS: A funny looking car shows up in the rose garden.

Rose: To Jared Dupes, a Shawnee High School graduate, and Nate Heffner, a Bath graduate, who were both part of the University of Toledo’s team in The American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Chem-E-Car competition in Atlanta. Teams had to build cars that were powered chemically and stopped chemically.

Rose: For the ninth year, the Allen Lima Leadership Class of 2006 has conducted the Love Luggage program, where it provides children who are about to enter foster care with a backpack filled with personal hygiene items along with more fun items like toys or playing cards.

Rose: One year after being ripped apart by a tornado, repairs have been made to homes and buildings throughout the village of Cloverdale in Putnam County and life has returned to some sense of normalcy.

Thorn: To Elida Mayor Kim Hardy, for the hiring of Dave Metzger as village administrator. Not only was Metzger once fired as a maintenance foreman in Delphos for multiple instances of theft in office, his retirement as public service director in West Jefferson came among allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Thorn: To Alexander Coleman, 33, Tyeast Casteel-Swann, 29, and Clinton Howard, 18, each of Lima. The trio were charged with criminal trespass after they were caught at 4:15 a.m. trying to steal catalytic converters from cars parked at Goodman Auto Sales on South Metcalf Street in Lima. Multiple thefts of catalytic converters have been reported within the month.

PARTING SHOT: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

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