MOUNT VERNON — City Council voted 4 to 3 to approve a 3 percent increase for City Council president, City Council members and the city treasurer. The raise will take effect in 2010.
Council members John Fair, Rebecca Jordan and Mike Hillier cast the no votes.
Hillier reiterated his previous statements that the city treasurer deserved an increase, but not City Council.
“A lot of the community is looking at why we are taking a pay raise now,” he said, adding that Mount Vernon was near the top in terms of paying council members, compared to other cities of similar size. He said the extra approximately $2,000 would be better spent through the General Fund.
Councilman Derk Demaree disagreed. He said $2,000 out of a $40 million budget accomplishes very little, and said declining a raise is not comprehensive, where everyone citywide is tightening his or her belt. Other city employees already received a 3 percent increase.
“I think we’ve done a good job and are deserving of this raise,” he said.
Councilman Burt Hanson pointed out the raise would not take effect during the current council’s term, which ends Dec. 31.
Jordan said her concern was giving council a pay raise at the same time council has to increase wastewater rates.
Following an executive session, council also approved a raise for non-safety services city employees. Employees affected include those in the water and wastewater departments and parks.
“It’s a 3 percent increase for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011,” said Councilman Bruce Hawkins, “retroactive to the beginning of 2009.”
Hawkins said the negotiating process with this group went well.
“The administration thought it was a very smooth agreement, almost amicable,” said Hawkins. “They appreciated the work from the collective bargaining unit, and felt they were reasonable in their requests.”
Council also discussed negotiations with the other two collective bargaining units, police and firefighters, while in executive session, but no action was taken.
Council passed an ordinance that would renew $2.1 million in notes issued for the Blackjack Road and Industrial Park improvements. The notes are due and payable Feb. 24.
According to Scott, the city decided to renew the notes because there was not a significant amount of money to turn into a long-term note. Scott said when the wastewater plant upgrade was completed; notes for the two projects could be rolled into a long-term note at that time.
In other business, council:
•Reappointed Austin Swallow to the Mount Vernon Planning Commission, and appointed City Engineer Cameron Keaton as an alternate to the Regional Planning Commission.
•Authorized Safety-Service Director Dave Glass to participate in the Ohio Department of Transportation cooperative purchasing program.
•Authorized appropriations and payment of bills.
•Approved a joint cooperation agreement between Knox County; Richland County, excluding the city of Mansfield; and the city of Mount Vernon to participate in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
•Authorized Glass to retain the law firm of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff to work with the city on bonding requirements. Attorney Stephen Grassbaugh has served the city as bond manager for about 30 years, and relocated to a new law firm.
Mayor Richard Mavis said bids were opened for the Gay Street improvement project. The high bid was $1.921 million, the lowest $1.091 million, which is under the estimated price tag. The bids are being reviewed.
He also said the city’s Wooster Road/Vernonview water line loan was approved by the Ohio Public Works commission.
Fair wanted the community to know the city was aware it is pothole season, and hoped the potholes will be dealt with in a timely manner. Glass said crews were patching potholes on Monday.