Pay hikes cause dissent on N. Baltimore budget
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 11:08
NORTH BALTIMORE - Council has approved its 2014 budget, but its passage was met with some dissension on Tuesday.
By a 3-2 vote, council members approved $5.2 million in appropriations for 2014.
Two council members, Leslee Thompson and Aaron Patterson, voted against the appropriations. Jeff Bretz was absent from the meeting.
Despite being one of the key figures in preparing the budget as head of the finance committee, Patterson said he felt strongly about voting against it.
"I don't agree with the way we did the raises," Patterson said after the meeting. "I am very upset about it."
Patterson said village employees were given 2.5 percent raises across the board. In addition, employees were considered for additional small raises based on their 2013 performance rating.
"I don't agree with the across-the-board raises if we have employees who are out-performing other employees," Patterson said. "I like to reward our employees who go above and beyond for the citizens of this community."
Thompson had a different reason for voting against the budget.
"I disagree with some of how the budget is being funded. We are continually going into our carry-over," Thompson said.
Those departments and funds receiving the largest appropriations included: police ($421,478); dispatch ($111,407); fire department ($85,664); EMS ($97,787); lands and buildings ($109,480); street maintenance and repair ($251,548); water fund ($1.2 million); wastewater ($990,414); debt fund payment to Ohio Water Development Authority ($614,805); water capital improvements ($180,000); street cleaning, tree maintenance, street lighting ($179,958).
Also at Tuesday's council meeting, members responded to an e-mail from a concerned citizen regarding a Dec. 11 emergency incident. The citizen said North Baltimore EMS was called out for the emergency, but no one responded. Hanco EMS had to be called instead causing a delay in response.
"If we the voters of North Baltimore are paying to have a service, we deserve to know that when the call is made we will have someone responding immediately, not 20 minutes or more after the original call," the resident wrote in the e-mail.
Council member Janet Goldner responded to the e-mail during the council meeting.
"We are aware our EMS is not running as smoothly as we would hope. We are working diligently to have a solution to that," Goldner said.
She said council is considering several options to resolve the ongoing issue and will soon present these options, along with a council recommendation, to the community through public meetings and speaking with various organizations.
"Council has already been spending many, many hours on this subject the last several months," council member Bill Cameron added.
"We'd like to already have this decision, but we just aren't ready … We don't want to make this decision in haste," Cameron said.