Northwood City Council last week voted 6-1 to cut non-union city employees’ pay by 3 percent, and voted 5-2 to force all non-union management city personnel to take eight unpaid furlough days, effective immediately.
Councilmen Jim Barton, Randy Kozina, Ed Schimmel, Dean Edwards, and Connie Hughes voted for both measures, while Dave Gallaher was opposed. Councilman Mike Myers voted for the pay cut, but against the furlough.
The city has struggled with reduced income tax collections and has cut expenses since last year.
At the last council meeting, Mayor Mark Stoner reported that income tax collections this year have dropped $102,261, or 15.9 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Last fall, the city cut over $600,000 in expenses, with few departments spared the budget ax.
The 3 percent cut affects the civil service secretary, baseball commissioner, Web site coordinator, administrative secretary in the police department, animal control officer, crossing guard, the clerk of council/city clerk and deputy clerk.
The furlough affects the city administrator, police chief, fire chief, director of public service, finance and revenue director, clerk of court, police captain, and law director/city prosecutor. The unpaid time may be taken in increments of one hour up to eight days in consecutive order.
Administrator Pat Bacon said after the meeting that the pay cuts and furlough represent a savings of $24,000.
Currently, there are no plans to ask the city’s four unions for concessions, she said.
Bacon met with union representatives to discuss concessions, she said, but the unions first wanted the city to come up with a plan.
The Mayor and city council have not yet addressed the matter, she said.
The city recently made more personnel cuts, including two police officers. Bacon said there is little left to cut from the budget. “We’re at bare bones now,” she said.
The city anticipated a 15 percent reduction in income tax collections in March, but to date, it’s more than 15 percent, she added.
Stoner said after the meeting that the city would have to reopen full contracts to seek union concessions, which would be costly in legal fees. The city’s labor attorney charges $500 per hour, he said.
“If we open up the full contracts, the unions could ask for an increase in pay and improvement in benefits,” said Stoner. “Do we really want to open that can of worms?”
The city will seek concessions when the contracts are up, he said, if the economy doesn’t improve. The union contract covering sergeants in the police department will be up shortly. Unions would have to make similar concessions in following contracts.
“They have to know this will happen,” said Stoner.
Schimmel said he wanted to see an ordinance that cuts the pay of the mayor and city council members by 10 percent.
“There was an ordinance I was hoping to see tonight that’s not here, and I was wondering where we’re at, and that is the lowering of city council and the mayor’s pay by 10 percent,” said Schimmel. “I don’t want to ask our employees to take a percent reduction in pay and we’re not doing the same. That was discussed a while ago. I think everyone up here has been giving back 10 percent of their net pay. But I would like to see an ordinance that we formally give 10 percent back.”
Stoner asked that such an ordinance be prepared.