The Press Newspaper
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.
Wood County commissioners describe their spending last year of public revenues as reflecting “a cautious, yet optimistic outlook” that maintained services, allowed for modest equipment purchases and capital improvements, and protected the county’s bond rating.
The commissioners released their 2009 annual report last week.
They began the year with a $14.7 million carry-over in the general fund which realized an additional $34 million in revenues. Total fund expenditures reached $37.1 million, leaving a carry-over to 2010 of $11.5 million.
Mirroring wide-spread trends, sales tax revenue in the county dropped from $16.1 million in 2008 to $15 million. Investment income also dropped to $2.75 million – a 30 percent decrease from 2008. Still, 2009 revenues were slightly higher than they were in 2007.
Despite the economic downturn, the county reaped two major development projects – each exceeding $100 million.
Construction on the CSX Intermodal Hub in Henry Township began in August and is expected to generate more than 200 jobs when operating, said Tom Blaha, executive director of the county’s economic development commission.
At the northern end of the county, an expansion at First Solar Inc., a manufacturer of photovoltaic cells in Perrysburg Township, increased total employment at the facility to almost 900.
Oregon City Council on Monday unanimously approved a separation agreement
with Oregon police officer Jeff Brown, who submitted his resignation following an investigation that he allegedly violated police department policy.
“He’s no longer an employee of the City of Oregon,” said Mayor Mike Seferian outside of the meeting.
Brown had been on paid administrative leave since late January while the city looked into allegations that he lent Oregon police equipment to a friend for Halloween.
As part of the separation agreement, Brown will receive 90 days salary. He is prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the city, and the city will not challenge his right to unemployment compensation with the state, said Seferian.
Brown will also not be able to challenge the agreement to gain back his employment.
Brown had originally asked for 120 days of compensation, while the city wanted to pay 60 days as part of the agreement, said Seferian.
“We decided to go with 90 and just get it over with,” said Seferian.
Had he not resigned, Brown would have been fired on Monday, Seferian told The Press.
Seferian said the matter could have gone to arbitration if Brown was fired, or refused to resign. Had that happened, it would have cost the city more in legal fees than the cost of the separation agreement, he said.
The Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) last week granted summary judgment in support of the FDS Coke Plant, LLC, and against the Sierra Club and the Village of Harbor View.
At issue was whether a permit issued to FDS Coke is still valid. The Sierra Club and Harbor View insisted the permit had expired. In order to keep the permit, FDS Coke had to have a contract to construct the facility, with financing and designs in place. FDS Coke asserted the permit did not expire and that it had binding construction contracts.
On June 14, 2004, the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a Permit to Install (PTI) to FDS Coke to construct the coke plant, to be located on 53 acres of property owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority that straddles the border of Oregon with East Toledo near the Maumee River.
The expiration date of the PTI was December 14, 2005. Prior to the expiration date, the director extended the expiration date of the permit to December 14, 2006. Prior to the December 14, 2006 expiration date of the permit, contracts were executed between FDS and Talon Consulting and FDS and UHDE, states the commission.
At the time the director granted the 12 month extension of the PTI, the Ohio Administrative Code stated that a permit to install terminates within 18 months of the effective date of the permit to install if the owner or operator has not undertaken a continuing program of installation of modification or has not entered into a binding contractual obligation to undertake and complete within a reasonable time a continuing program of installation or modification. It also stated that the director may modify a permit to install to extend these dates of expiration by up to 12 months if the applicant submits, within a reasonable time before the termination date, an application for modification, containing information that justifies the extension.
Northwood’s Finance Committee discussed the possibility of placing a 0.25 percent income tax hike on the ballot to stem the continuing loss of revenue.
“We talked about a 0.25 percent increase for five years, and possibly put that on the ballot in November,” Councilman Mike Myers said at a council meeting March 11.
The committee also discussed reducing to 50 percent the 100 percent tax credit for residents who work outside the city, he said.
“If the .25 percent passed, that would go away,” said Myers.
Other possibilities included a 10 percent pay cut for the mayor and city council, 3 percent pay cuts for non-union employees, and an adjustment of revenue allocated to the budget, said Myers. Currently, 70 percent of revenue goes into the general budget, 20 percent into capital improvements, and 10 percent for capital repairs. The proposed adjustment would allocate 80 percent of the revenue to the general budget, and 20 percent into capital improvements.
“That would give us a saving of $S720,342 and a carryover of $220,000,” said Myers.
Mayor Mark Stoner told council that the city’s income tax revenues dropped again in March as they did in the first two months of this year.
“Income tax collection for the year to date is $573,736, which is a decrease of $102,261, or 15.9 percent over the same period of 2009,” said Stoner. If income tax collections are down 15 percent by the end of this year, the city would have to cut $697,458 in expenditures from the budget, with $488,221 from the general fund, he said.