GIRARD Lawmakers to postpone pay raises

Mayor James Melfi nixed management increases.
GIRARD -- A city lawmaker is calling for a moratorium on all employee pay raises as the community looks to dig itself out of its financial woes.
During Monday night's city council meeting, Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline asked that legislation be prepared for the next meeting to delay union and management pay increases.
Sauline made the request after council rejected a 3.5-percent pay increase for Randy Weibel, superintendent of building and grounds. It would have taken his pay to $31,200.
Council also indefinitely postponed a pay raise for police chief Anthony Ross. The legislation, scheduled to receive its first reading Monday, called for his salary to increase from $47,000 to $48,645.
Next agenda: After the meeting, law director Mark Standohar ruled that the ordinance to increase Ross' salary would be placed on the next meeting agenda because the vote to postpone the legislation didn't receive the needed four affirmative votes.
The legislation was passed by a 3-2 vote as Reynald Paolone, D-1st, and Joseph Manente and John Moliterno, both D-at large, were absent.
Council members Joseph Lambert, D-at large, and Brian Kren, D-3rd, voted to postpone the chief's pay raise, while Sauline and Thomas Grumley, D-4th, voted against the postponement. Council president Leo Grimes broke the tie.
City deficit: Sauline said she is seeking the moratorium on raises as the city is facing a $1 million deficit by year's end and it will take five to 10 years to recover.
The lawmaker said she wants to make sure that all union and nonunion city workers are treated the same.
Sauline was the only one of the four lawmakers to vote to increase Weibel's pay because he has done "an outstanding job" and "we don't want to lose good employees."
Union employees received a 3.5-percent pay increase this year and are scheduled to receive 3.5-percent in each of the second and third years of a three-year contract.
Safety director Frank Rich has been in contact with the unions' leadership about foregoing raises slated for Jan. 1, 2002, or the second year of their contracts.
A halt to management raises for the balance of the year was recommended during the council meeting by Mayor James Melfi.
The mayor said he can't support any raises because of the looming deficit and the pending release of a special state audit of city finances.
Melfi said he had "mixed emotions" about postponing any pay raises for Weibel and Ross because their evaluations have shown their performances to be "satisfactory or better."

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