BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The city of Maumee will reinstate city worker wages that were cut during COVID-19, while also giving pay raises and bonuses to those who continue to work throughout the pandemic.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr learned last week that the state of Ohio was planning to reimburse premium payments that were made to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fund. At the November 2 Maumee City Council meeting, council members unanimously approved a request to allocate those funds to city staff.
With the action, a payment of $625,873 will be distributed to city employees to make up for a previously negotiated, 5-percent reduction in wages over 26 pay periods.
Additional money will also be paid in the amount of $223,848 to account for the 1.5-percent pay increases that city workers would have received in 2020. The city staff will also receive a scheduled 1.5-percent pay raise in January and an additional 1.5 percent will be paid to all employees who have not taken off work during the COVID pandemic between June and December 2020.
“My opinion was that with additional money coming in, we should make our employees whole and do what is right,” Carr said. “We believe that with this totally unexpected money, we are not only going to make our employees whole, but we are going to end up far more financially sound.”
In March, Carr proposed issuing job cuts in response to projected lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent numbers indicate that in the first nine months of 2020, city revenue from income tax and hotel/motel revenues decreased by $1.4 million over last year; however, expenses also decreased $700,000 over that same time period, he said.
Following a tense negotiation process when the pandemic prompted businesses to close, all three employee labor unions reached agreements with the city to reduce wages by 5 percent and forego wage increases. In addition, six employees retired, five resigned and one was laid off.
Rich Ellet, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4536, said that he appreciates the effort to restore worker wages.
“We are grateful that the city found the money and gave it back to us. They didn’t have to do it, but they did, and hopefully this is a step toward healing,” Ellet said.
Council member Jim MacDonald reiterated the fact that the budget is often fluid. When revenue declines, expenses have to be cut, which often means decreasing labor costs since those funds comprise a majority of the city’s expenses, he said.
“The budget ebbs and it tides, and we have to react to that. We have to be responsible to that,” MacDonald said. “To keep this community whole, we had to make some tough decisions in the beginning of the year. With all of the criticisms that we get, it was the best thing to do for the community as a whole.”
The money will likely be distributed sometime in December, Carr said.
Also at the meeting, council took the following action:
• Authorized the retaining of David Busick as the full-time city of Maumee law director, effective November 9, 2020.
• Authorized the promotion of Joseph Mikolajczyk to supervisor in the Sewer Division, effective November 9, 2020.
• Authorized an agreement with Midwest Contracting to install a new roofing system, including wood framing, soffits and metal roofing on 12 new dugouts at Rolf Park in an amount of $118,740. Also authorized an agreement with Midwest Contracting to paint the existing four dugouts in an amount of $3,310. Council member Brent Buehrer abstained from voting on the issues.
• Authorized an agreement with Trane U.S. to install a new chiller unit, ultraviolet lighting, variable air volume upgrades, control systems upgrades and air handler refreshing in an amount of $369,890.
• Approved a pay range for the municipal court clerk of $75,000 to $85,000, effective November 9, 2020.
• Approved the purchase of two compact loaders and accessories in an amount not to exceed $195,000.
• Appropriated an additional $7,607 in the Sewer Fund to accommodate sewer lining and maintenance performed in the West Carisbrook area.
• Authorized an agreement with Burkhart & Sons Excavating for retention pond cleaning and maintenance at the fire station in an amount not to exceed $15,000.
• Approved the purchase of two MSA thermal imaging camera kits and five batteries from Fire Safety Services at a total cost of $14,648.16.
• Approved the replacement of two carbon monoxide and two nitrogen dioxide sensors in the fire station bay ventilation system and associated labor from Dunbar Mechanical at a total cost of $3,470.
• Authorized a one-year agreement with Barracuda for spam and e-mail filter maintenance, in an amount of $1,788.96.
• Declared a Ricoh C3502 copier as surplus and authorized the sale of said surplus equipment.
• Approved the purchase of a Ricoh IM C4500 replacement copy machine at a cost of $8,790 plus a monthly fee for maintenance from Applied Imaging.