|City moves toward closing budget gap|
|Wednesday, October 30, 2013 8:22 PM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
DELPHOS — City Auditor Tom Jettinghoff had good news for Delphos City Council at Wednesday’s special meeting. Loan payments totaling nearly $1.5 million have been deferred for six months.
The Ohio Water Development Authority granted the deferment to extend the loans out six months past the scheduled last payment, keeping $525,000 in the Water Fund and nearly $900,000 in the Sewer Fund.
The good news came on the heels of an executive session that opened the meeting. The session was called to discuss personnel matters, compensation of employees and contract negotiations.
When council returned to regular session, Mayor Michael Gallmeier and Safety Service Director Greg Berquist announced a Memorandum of Understanding was reached with the firefighters’ union to delay the layoffs of the part-paid personnel for 45 days until the city receives word if it has been awarded a Safe Grant from Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the full salaries and benefit packages of three full-time firefighters.
“We received a call from FEMA on Friday with questions for us to answer and then received a second call the same day to answer more,” Berquist said. “I would say they are giving us a good look for these funds.”
The grant would re-employ the three full-time firefighters who received lay-off notices in early October for two years.
“This would keep our fire department staffed at the previous levels,” Berquist said.
Berquist said the administration is in progressive talks with the firefighters’ union for upcoming contracts.
Berquist also reported Acting Fire Chief Kevin Streets has gone over the standard operating guidelines for reduced staff. On an emergency medical call, the firefighter on duty will still act as a first responder with paramedics and EMTs to follow. On a fire call, two full-time firefighters will take two pieces of equipment and respond to the scene with part-paid personnel responding to the station for additional equipment and then to the scene. With the previous staffing levels, the part-paid personnel would respond directly to the scene with the equipment brought by the full-time personnel.
Council also voted 4-3 to have city employees pick up 4.75 percent of the estimated 9.43-percent increase in health insurance premiums. Councilman Mark Clement was one of the “no” votes. He stated that he didn’t believe the public would go for not passing on the full increase to employees with the city’s finances in their current state.
“We are going to have to put in place water and sewer rate increases and we’re asking them to pass a .25-percent income tax increase,” Clement said. “I just don’t agree with not passing the full increase on to the employees.”
The next regular city council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.