PERRYSBURG - The same night that voters went to the polls to narrow down his possible successors, outgoing Municipal Court Judge Dwight Osterud went before City Council for one of his own employees.
Osterud asked for a raise for longtime Municipal Court Clerk Janice Elkes, who had accidentally been overlooked for years due to changing pay processes.
"I'm looking for equity," said the judge.
"As you know, City Council sets the court administrator's salary. I was under the mistaken belief that the council had taken care of Janice from 2005 through 2012. I was mistaken, and when I found that out, I asked that her salary be increased. And that occurred last August," an increase that amounted to about a six-percent raise. However, over that time, her pay would have gone up 19 percent.
With an additional four percent increase requested by the judge, Elkes' salary would go from $83,237 per year to $86,760, retroactive to January of this year.
City Administrator Bridgette Kabat said Elkes was apparently "lost in the shuffle" about seven years ago due to her status as a court employee when the structure of awarding raises for non-bargaining personnel changed.
Compared to the staffing in the Bowling Green Municipal Court, the judge said, "she really is doing the job of three people." Elkes, he said, who looks at every case and frequently works weekends when the judge himself is there, has no assistants or deputies.
Most on council agreed with the move. Tom Mackin, who acknowledged in his comments that he is running for Osterud's seat, stated that "the court's docket, the management of that, the management of staff, is critical" to those who come before the court.
"She does all that, in a fantastic manner."
"I view this as a completion of what has been a long, one-time equity adjustment because she kind of fell off the grid," said Tim McCarthy.
Lawless, noting budget information showing the court has provided a budget surplus to the city in recent years, said, "We're in line (budgetarily), even with an increase, so I guess I don't have a problem with that."
However, Councilman Todd Grayson noted he would not be voting in favor of the increase, saying Elkes had "been well-compensated, even with her missing some raises in recent years."
"I've done the job of two people," he said later. "I've done it very well. I've been given awards for my doing the work of two people. I was still only paid for the work of one person."
"Philosophically, I believe one person, one job. She came to work every day, got the job done."
While acknowledging the extenuating circumstances, Mike Olmstead said that "where I bristle a little bit, any employee misses out on an opportunity for a raise, nowhere but unions more or less do we have guaranteed pay raises."
He said that since 2006, most people have seen a cut in pay.
"No one outside in the world gets automatic raises," said Olmstead.
The matter passed 4-1, with Grayson serving as the lone dissenter.
Council additionally met with the Perrysburg Township Trustees earlier in the evening for the annual Joint Cemetery Meeting concerning Fort Meigs Union Cemetery.
The cemetery is jointly administered by both bodies.
In an uncharacteristically brief and uncontroversial meeting, members approved the cemetery's 2014 budget, consisting of expected revenue of $476,459.42 and expenditures of $468,755.70, and also approved the annual continuance of the cemetery's .32-mill inside millage.
In other business, council:
• Approved 4-1 a resolution asking for the city to pursue a U.S. Department of Justice grant, of no more than $4,800, for bulletproof vests for the police division.
Grayson, who stated that local governments, not the federal government, should fund such programs, served as the lone "no" vote.
• Heard that five applications have been received for the vacated council seat of Maria Ermie, who retired at the end of April due to health issues. Council plans to meet with the applicants Monday at 7 p.m. They have until the end of the month to choose a temporary replacement for Ermie; if the post is open for more than 30 days, then the mayor has the authority to fill it. Her seat is among three open for election this year.
• Appointed Councilman John Kevern to fill Ermie's seat on the Appointment Review Committee. Kevern was absent from the meeting.