Akron Council OKs raises for firefighters
International Association of Firefighters Local No. 330 members will get two separate salary increases this year.
According to an ordinance approved by Akron City Council at the July 2 meeting, the firefighters will receive a lump sum payment for an increase of 1.25 percent retroactive to Jan. 1, and then another 1.25 percent increase effective July 1, which will be included in the employees’ next paychecks.
After the second increase is implemented, firefighters’ annual salaries will range between $47,486 and $116,771 for the various grades and steps in the department, according to the ordinance.
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) said firefighters had requested 2.25 percent for each of the next two years and the city had offered 1.5 percent for each of the next two years.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic told Council during discussion on the ordinance in the Budget and Finance Committee meeting the dispute ended in arbitration.
Plusquellic called the raises “unfair” because the firefighters, like police, will get bigger increases than other city employees who have agreed to make sacrifices due to the financial condition of the city.
“These are the circumstances we face with the law the way it is,” he said.
Council also voted 12-1 to increase curbside trash collection fees, approving an amendment to reduce the rate increase for property owners that qualify for the homestead exemption (for those ages 65 and older or totally disabled) by $1. Those new monthly fees are $9.80 with recycling and $11.80 without compared to the existing $9.30 and $11.30, respectively.
The regular residential fee will increase from $17.50 with recycling to $19 and from $19.50 without recycling to $21.50.
The ordinance also requires residents to use city-approved containers.
Councilman Bruce Kilby (D-Ward 2) voted against the proposal and said the 10 percent increase was “too big” for the working poor.
“We have to be careful on raising fees for people who are struggling,” he said.
Also during the Budget and Finance Committee, Council agreed to place two items on the consent agenda to vote on at its next meeting. City officials described both as “cleaning house.”
One creates the new Department of Neighborhood Assistance, which Plusquellic said formalizes and consolidates previously existing entities and departments. Earlier this year, John Valle was appointed as its director.
The new department will handle complaints such as noxious weeds, junk and unlicensed vehicles, graffiti, various offensive property conditions and sidewalks, as well as litter, that were previously handled by various other departments or entities.
The ordinance also outlines the process for written notification to offenders regarding violations, sets a “reasonable time” for compliance, and establishes an appeals process and administrative fines for those who are in violation or fail to comply.
In addition, the ordinance states that if conditions are determined to be “extensive” by an inspector, the city can choose to demolish or repair the problems after written notice to the property owner and a reasonable period for compliance, and assess the owners for the costs. Those owners also will have an appeals process before any work can begin. “Condemned” properties unfit for human habitation will be identified by placard, according to the ordinance.
The new department will require all rental unit owners to register their properties, pay fees based on the number of units in the complex and have the property inspected both inside and outside semiannually for a minimum of four years if it receives two or more nuisance notices within any two-year period.
The second ordinance placed on the consent agenda creates, establishes and recognizes departments, officers, bureaus, divisions and positions in the classified service in the city and requires that only budgeted funded positions be filled.
One other ordinance was approved for the consent agenda at the next meeting.
The ordinance authorizes city officials to execute an oil and/or gas lease agreement for mineral rights of approximately 5.18 acres of city-owned right-of-ways along Baughman, Ritchie and Wildwood avenues; Beechwood, Briarwood, Fernwood, Hillwood, Norway and Orrin drives; and Copley Road for the completion of the John Brown Unit No. 1D gas/oil well drilling unit at 514 Diagonal Road.
Planning Committee Chairman Jeff Fusco (D-at large) reminded others that cities no longer have any say on where drilling activities are permitted, as states have taken over control of that decision. He also said since 1997, the city has collected $5.2 million in fees for drilling activities.
Council member Mike Williams (D-at large) asked city officials to look into and ask for some kind of regular report on drilling to monitor such activities.
The next Akron City Council meeting will take place July 9 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, located on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings will begin at 2 p.m., also in Council Chambers.
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