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City administration admonished for lack of communication PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 12:00 AM


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DELPHOS — City administration was taken to task Monday for lack of communication following layoffs of city employees on Friday afternoon.

Jim Knebel, standing in for Council President Kim Riddell, told the administration it was unacceptable that council members find out about such actions by reading the newspaper.

“Is there some reason we aren’t being notified about these things?” Knebel asked.

Several other council members were also concerned.

“We got an e-mail seven hours after the paperwork was delivered,” Councilman-at Large Josh Gillespie said.

Councilman-at-Large Kevin Osting asked why no communication has been forthcoming.

“We are getting zero communication from the administration,” he said. “I believe you had this plan laid out from the beginning. We all gave suggestions and none were taken.”

Auditor Tom Jettinghoff, the one who brought the matter to the floor, said he had also offered several ideas of trimming expenses that would have avoided much of the layoff and his ideas did not get a response. He also questioned if the layoffs in the fire and police departments would actually save the city as much as Berquist first thought.

“With the auxiliary gone, we are going to pay the full-time guys overtime at the full rate if someone is sick or has vacation,” Jettinghoff said. “I just don’t think we are going to see that much savings in this case. The overtime was one of the first things we looked at and I think we may have the same problem or worse.”

Safety Service Director Greg Berquist apologized for not informing council in a more timely manner and said the administration is trying to plug a hole in the city’s budget so the year ends in the black.

“The administration began the process to reduce expenses through the end of the year several weeks ago,” he said. “We began with the furloughs on Sept. 29, then the layoffs in the service departments and the four layoffs this past week.”

Mayor Michael Gallmeier said the administration had asked for guidance from council and got no response.

Fire Chief Dave McNeal said he gave his notice of retirement last week in hopes of saving a full-time firefighters job. Now the city will need to enlist the Civil Service testing process to fill his position. Acting Chief Kevin Streets was one of the three firefighters who received layoff papers on Friday.

Berquist said the Civil Service testing could not occur for at least 30 days. The notice for the testing will go out today.

Once a chief is chosen, an empty full-time firefighter’s position will need to be back-filled from those who were laid off.

Knebel questioned if Marion and Washington townships will consider contracting with Delphos for fire and rescue service with so few bodies available.

Berquist said he had no idea what the townships were thinking or going to do. He added he had tried to talk with the fire bargaining unit and did not get a favorable response.

Firefighter Cory Meyer took the podium to address issues between the city and the bargaining unit.

At the Sept. 16 meeting, Meyer gave Delphos City Council a list of proposals the bargaining unit and city administration recently collaborated on to reduce costs by $30,000 through year’s end.

The list included eight hours furlough time per pay period for all fire department bargaining unit employees, which would generate approximately $5,000. The fire chief would cover the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift and a respective employee would finish the 24-hour shift from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

In the event an employee takes time off, the fire chief would cover 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., an employee working 4 p.m. to midnight would work at straight time, saving overtime costs, and then work midnight to 8 a.m. at the appropriate overtime rate.

Under the plan, one employee could be off shift at a time, saving the creation of an extra 24 hours of overtime; trading shift days will be encouraged when possible, saving the cost of overtime.

The fire chief has also agreed to use some of his accumulated vacation time to lower his buyout upon his retirement with the savings to be determined by the number of days used; for example: 10 days would save approximately $2,400.

Line-item reductions from the 2013 budget include: Travel Account — $1,000; Training Account — $1,540; Turn-out Account — $2,500; Professional Services Account — $3,000; Repair and Maintenance Account — $2,500; Small Tools Account — $2,000; and Building & Structure — $6,000; for a total savings of $18,540.

The final proposal is to schedule two EMS personnel per shift, with the understanding more help may be needed on certain types of calls, such as trauma, cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest. Using 75 runs per month as an average multiplied by $25 equated to a potential savings of $1,900 per month and approximately $5,600 through year’s end.

Myer said the proposal was not against the contract with the firefighters’ union because it involved the collective bargaining unit.

“We agreed to 8-hour furloughs and some other things to bring costs down,” Meyer said. “We were willing to work something. Now you have the poor volunteer (part-paid) firemen who heard about being laid off in the newspaper. Most of them don’t do it for the money. We need to stop arguing and pointing fingers and figure out how we are going to effectively provide fire service.”

Council heard on first reading an ordinance reducing the pay salary for the safety service director and department supervisors. According to the ordinance, all pay will be reduced by 7.5 percent (equivalent to a 37-hour work week) in line with the 3-hour furloughs for hourly employees.

Jettinghoff told council that if he has no formal paperwork on the reduction of pay, he has to pay at the current rate on the next pay period, which ends Sunday.

A special council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss and possibly pass the ordinance.

Council amended on second reading an ordinance concerning increasing EMS transportation rates.

The new rates, effective Oct. 1, for rescue service emergency transportation to a medical hospital not farther in distance than 20 miles will be, with the previous figures in ( ):

• Emergency Basic Life Support (per person/per conveyance) — $500 ($450);

• Emergency Advanced Life Support 1 (per person/per conveyance) — $600 ($700);

• Emergency Advanced Life Support 2 (per person/per conveyance) — $700 ($850); and

• Mileage (per loaded mile) — $10.74 ($13.75).

An ordinance reducing the salaries of elective officials by 25 percent — all paid monthly — was heard on second reading. The mayor will make $13,500 per year; the city treasurer will make $2,400 a year; the city law director will make $7,500 per year; the president of council will make $2,400 a year; individual council members will make $2,250 a year; and the city auditor will make $7,500 a year.

If passed, the ordinance will not take affect for any office until the person now holding the position is re-elected or replaced.

Berquist announced the city will host an Allen County Active Transportation Plan Project kick off meeting from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday at the city building.

The purpose of the plan, under the auspices of Activate Allen County, is to reshape the transportation system to make walking and bicycling an easy and safe choice for everyday activities.

Berquist said Lima, Spencerville and Delphos proposed the first project which would link the three by a hiking, biking and walking path along the canal in Delphos, south to Spencerville, along the railroad tracks from Spencerville to Lima and back to Delphos along State Route 309.

The public is invited to attend to give input.

Last Updated on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 11:59 PM

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