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GIRARD Council plans to discuss pay raise for police chief



Published: Thu, June 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Councilman Joseph Manente said the chief is not being singled out.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- A pay raise for Police Chief Anthony Ross will appear on city council's June 25 meeting agenda, but how far it goes from there is uncertain. Mayor James Melfi is seeking the 3.5-percent increase, from $47,000 to $48,645, retroactive to Jan. 1, although the city will end the year $1 million in debt.

Legislation to increase Ross' pay was prepared for Monday's meeting, but no move was made by lawmakers to place it on the agenda for a vote.

Councilman's stance: Brian Kren, D-3rd, voted to place the issue on the agenda, but he won't vote to approve the raise.

"At this time, I have a hard time with it because of the city's finances," Kren said.

"I don't believe council should be short-sighted with an employee," Melfi said, noting rejection of the raise may be politically motivated.

Ross was surprised lawmakers didn't approve his raise Monday because he has done a good job and other department heads have received pay increases.

City Auditor Sam Zirafi wrote a letter to the administration and council earlier this month explaining the city will end the year $1 million in the red and that he is "deeply concerned" about the city's ability to continue normal operations.

Melfi said there may not be any manager pay raises in 2002 and unions may be asked to forgo negotiated raises next year.

Melfi said other administrators have received raises on the anniversary dates of their hiring and Ross should not be singled out.

Job performance: The chief's evaluation after the first six months of this year has shown him as doing a "very satisfactory job," the mayor said.

Ross, 76, was on sick leave most of 2000 and he could not be evaluated, he added.

Melfi suggested that if Ross does not receive the raise, the city could be setting itself up for a lawsuit.

Joseph Manente, D-at-large, said Ross is not being singled out and he will not vote for any pay raises while the city is in financial trouble.

In April 1998, the city successfully defended itself against a federal age-discrimination lawsuit filed by Ross. The chief contended he had been subjected to a hostile work environment because he wouldn't retire.

Lawsuit was filed: Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission filed an age-discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Ross in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. That case is pending.

Kren and Thomas Grumley, D-4th, have pressed Melfi for short- and long-term plans to get the city on sound financial footing.

Melfi has maintained that he wants to first see the results of a special state audit and its recommendations.

Zirafi said the audit is expected to be completed in about two weeks.

yovich@vindy.com




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