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Girard mayor orders random drug testing



Published: Wed, April 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Administrators will volunteer to be the first participants.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- All city employees, including council members, will be required to participate in random drug testing.

Mayor James Melfi imposed the Drug Free Workplace Program, offered by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, on Tuesday to save more than $100,000 a year on workers' compensation costs. He is not sure when the testing will start.

"The company that does the testing will just pick names out of a hat, I guess," Melfi said. "However, the administrators will be the first. We offered to go first."

About 10 employees a year will be selected for testing, Melfi said.

Last week the police and fire unions, court employees, administrators and council members agreed to take part in the program. But the local American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees declined.

Federation officials could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

"It doesn't matter if they declined because I am imposing it," Melfi said. "Everyone who gets a paycheck from the city of Girard will take part."

If one of the federation employees is selected for testing, the union could file a grievance, he said.

According to the mayor, the city would pay $732,011 for workers' compensation if it doesn't take part in the program. Adopting the drug testing program lowers the premium to $622,852.

In three years, the city would save about $330,000 by taking part in the program, he said.

"It is in the best interest of this community to do this," Melfi said. "I believe we need to take every measure we can to save money."

In addition to the financial benefits, random drug testing will result in citizens having more confidence in the public employees.

"It will also make sure we have safe working environments, and it will give an opportunity for affected employees to seek treatment and make a full recovery," Melfi said.

Several council members stressed that they agreed with the program.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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