The county will approved a three-year contract with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union.
By MARY GRZEBIENIAK
MERCER -- A $360,000 state grant will improve communication between the Mercer County 911 center and ambulances.
County commissioners approved an agreement Thursday with EMMCO West of Meadville to establish a countywide two-way radio channel for use in ambulance dispatch.
Ambulances now do not have radio communication with the center, which must contact them by phone.
The grant, which requires no county match, was awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Specifics of the equipment installation will be worked out by the county radio committee, commissioners said.
Use of different radio frequencies by volunteer fire departments also is a problem in the county, but converting all communications to the same frequencies would take $1.5 million to $2 million, commissioner Olivia Lazor said.
Union contract: In other business, commissioners approved a three-year contract with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union effective Jan. 1.
The contract provides a 5 percent wage increase this year with 3 percent increases in 2003 and 2004. An entry-level caseworker will now start at $25,031, a clerical worker at $19,039 and fiscal staff at $20,061. The union represents 26 Children and Youth Services employees. Negotiations have been going on since August, said Bill Boyle, director of administrative services.
Janitorial bids: Commissioners also opened bids for janitorial service for four county-owned buildings. Bids were solicited for one- and three year contracts for the buildings as well as separate one- and three-year pacts for the county courthouse, which is now cleaned by county employees.
Boyle said after the meeting that contracting out the courthouse cleaning is an option depending on cost.
Bids were tabled until the Feb. 14 meeting. Imperial Services of Youngstown now has the cleaning contract for the four buildings.
In the salary board portion of the meeting, commissioners eliminated a grant and allocation accountant in the fiscal department and created a fiscal assistant position that would pay $11 per hour at entry level.
Lazor voted against the measure, saying she felt the position should be one grade lower, paying $10.06 hourly. Boyle said the position had been rated by five county officials and their ratings were averaged to arrive at the level.