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County Council considering raises for employees

4/24/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

The Akron RubberDucks’ senior mascot, Orbit, visited Summit County Council April 21 to promote “Let’s Move, Summit County!,” a 2.7-mile health walk planned for April 26.
Photo: Ariel Hakim
DOWNTOWN AKRON — While the Akron RubberDucks’ newest mascot Webster was on vacation April 21, the team’s senior mascot, Orbit, visited Summit County Council to promote “Let’s Move, Summit County!,” a 2.7-mile health walk planned for April 26 that begins and ends at Canal Park.

Councilwoman Paula Prentice (D-District 8) is spearheading the event, part of the county’s wellness initiative.

The route will include stops at the Spaghetti Warehouse, METRO Transit Station, The University of Akron at Quaker Square and the Akron-Summit County Main Library. At each stop, walkers will have their route cards validated and receive free samples or coupons. At the end of the route, validated cards can be turned in for a chance to win a prize in a drawing that will be held during the RubberDucks game.

Registration for the walk is $10 and includes a ticket to the RubberDucks game that day and a backpack. Summit County employees can earn 250 vitality points for participating, according to organizers. Registration is limited to the first 5,000 participants, and the first 250 are guaranteed a backpack, according to event officials.

For more information or to register, call the RubberDucks’ office at 330-253-5153 or visit www.akronrubberducks.com.

Following Orbit’s visit, Council held committee meetings to discuss proposed legislation. First up for the Personnel Committee was a resolution to award 1.5 percent raises for nonbargaining employees of Council, the Executive’s Office, Fiscal Office, Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Clerk of Courts Office, Engineer’s Office, Internal Audit Department and Human Resource Commission.

The increase would affect 616 employees, and impact to the county’s General Fund on this year’s budget would be $156,000, according to Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry. Across all funds, the 2014 impact would be $414,000, he said.

The proposed increases stem from a “me too” clause, following a recent fact-finding report recommending similar pay increases for deputies in the Sheriff’s Office, according to county officials.

The action would be consistent with the county’s past practices, Dodson said.

The committee recommended Council adopt the legislation to grant the pay increases retroactive to April 1.

Also, the Personnel Committee discussed and recommended Council adopt legislation to amend the director of victim services position with the county from a classified to an unclassified position. The salary for the position, which currently is vacant, will remain the same, according to Christine Higham, deputy director of human resources for the Executive’s Office.

The job is a director-level position reporting to the county prosecutor, helping with policy and decisions, and the Prosecutor’s Office requested the change to keep it in line with the job responsibilities, she said.

The Public Works Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution to apply for a Water Pollution Control Loan Fund grant for up to $967,000 to finance the Manchester Waste Water Treatment Plant and a related sanitary sewer improvements project in New Franklin.

Mike Weant, of the Department of Environmental Services, said the project, which was approved by Council last year, is already underway, and the proposed legislation would set up funding.

Legislation considered by the Public Works Committee this week also included a resolution to reduce the speed limit on Glenmount Avenue in Coventry, from Swartz Road to East Waterloo Road, to 35 mph, which was recommended for adoption by Council.

Heidi Swindell, of the Engineer’s Office, said the speed limit, which is not posted, is currently 55 mph, and a recent speed study determined the lower limit would be more reasonable.

The Planning and Economic Development Committee discussed and recommended a resolution to appropriate $12,400 to assist low-income electric customers.

Holly Miller, of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said the Fuel Fund Grant Program assists customers who are delinquent on their electric bills with up to $300 to bring them current.

The Public Safety Committee recommended Council adopt legislation to replace a sport utility vehicle for the Medical Examiner’s Office; accept and appropriate $333,300 from a Drug Law Enforcement Fund grant, which includes a 25 percent local match, for the Sheriff’s Office to provide for salaries, equipment and supplies; and advertise for bids for two collapse search-and-rescue vehicles to be paid for with Homeland Security grant funds.

The Public Safety Committee also recommended Council accept a three-year agreement with Fifth Third Bank for taking credit and debit cards for child support payments in the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Currently, the agency accepts cash, checks and money orders. The agreement will allow the agency to accept credit and debit cards payments over the phone through a mobile terminal device, according to county officials.

Council will next meet April 28 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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