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City sees balanced budget

August 21, 2013
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - City employees will be required to pay more for their health care following a split vote Tuesday afternoon by the city's health care containment committee.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said the committee, which includes two city representatives and one representative each from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 Ohio Labor Council, International Firefighters Local 228 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015, voted 3-2 to adopt measures, "that will see employees participating more in their health care costs."

"These will be substantial changes that will take effect Sept. 1 and will result in substantial savings for the city. That will help us balance the budget for this year and will help us dealing with the projected $1.2 million deficit in 2014," Mucci told City Council members Tuesday night.

Mucci said representatives from the city's insurance provider Health Assurance will be available for educational meetings with city employees next week.

"This is a substantial contribution by the city employees. We will try our best to educate our employees why this was necessary. We have a pretty good idea of our savings but I am reluctant to say exactly how much at this point until we thoroughly analyze the numbers," Mucci added.

The city and police union agreed to a new 19-month contract last week. The firefighters are scheduled to start negotiations later this year, while the AFSCME union contract expires in March.

Mucci made his announcement during a council finance committee meeting Tuesday scheduled to review legislation that will be introduced during the remaining months of the year.

According Finance Director Alyssa Kerker, legislation to amend the 2013 revenue budget and the expenditures budget will need to be introduced to account for overtime in the police department and fire department as well as the police department motor maintenance fund.

"We had estimated about $22,000 this year for the fire department, but we now estimate it will approach the $100,000 mark. The fire department contract has a minimum manning level," said Kerker.

"This all started when we closed the Pleasant Heights fire station. That was supposed to save money. But now it is a game," said 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.

"We are staffing 11 men per turn and that gives us a little flexibility. Negotiations with the firefighters are right around the corner and that issue will be discussed," responded Mucci.

During the sunshine meeting 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich introduced several ordinances for consideration, including legislation authorizing the acting city manager to contract with MWH Constructors for design build services for the lower University Boulevard sanitary sewer replacement project at a cost of $150,618.

Lalich also proposed legislation for the issuance of $460,000 in revenue bonds for improvements at the water filtration plant as well as:

Amending the city's expenditure budget.

Amending the city's revenue budget.

Adopting a city employee overtime and compensatory leave policy.

Amending the city's table of organization to reflect the police union's 2.2 percent pay raise effective Sept. 1, as well language to bring the municipal court clerk's pay into line with other city employees and amending the council clerk job from a part-time to a full-time position.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul called for a utility committee meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the West End water improvement project.

Lalich said the utility committee will discuss an idea to avoid raising water rates.

"This is something I have been thinking about and I would like to discuss it with my colleagues to see if they agree," said Lalich.

First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto reminded the community the 2013 South End reunion is set for Saturday afternoon at Beatty Park.

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