There is not much to mention from last night, other than the lengthy discussion regarding our dispatch center. My notes below reflect the conversations from last night, and the information passed along by our administration.
The State of Ohio is mandating that there be only a handful of dispatch centers in Summit County for the intake of wireless emergency calls. The mayor wants for Stow to be one of them. That will mean significant equipment upgrades of around $1 million. Many surrounding communities will then feed their 911 calls (from cell phones only) to our dispatch center. This will increase the labor costs in our dispatch center.
Stow will not have a way to pass these costs along to the other communities, but we will receive a larger share of the wireless call tax that is assessed on every cell phone bill. This could amount to about $20K-$30K more in revenue.
So the natural question is: Why not let someone else take our wireless calls–rather than be the one who invests $1 million and incurs increased annual labor costs?
It goes without saying that, as time passes, wireless calls will make up a greater and greater portion of overall 911 calls. A great deal of millennial households (mine included) do not even subscribe to landline phone service. So this decision may be more about: In the future (10 years from now), do we want a dispatch center, or are we comfortable farming it out to the county or another city? It seems like Cuyahoga Falls is in a similar situation as us, and there may be an opportunity to operate a joint dispatch center with the Falls.
Stay tuned. Council took no action last night. It was only an informational meeting. You can be sure that council will take a critical eye to any proposal that is put before us, because there will be long-term ramifications, no matter which path we choose.
Council will meet next on December 10.
Here are my notes from a lengthy council meeting last night:
Labor issues – City council approved new collective bargaining agreements with the last of its five unions. All unions agreed to 2% raises in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017. Some of that will be offset by employees contributing more toward their health insurance.
Stow also has a great deal of non-unionized employees, and none of these union agreements will apply to the non-union employees. However, in 2013, council approved an ordinance to require future councils to consider giving non-union employees (including the elected Law Director and Finance Director) the same pay raises as union employees. This would include a 2015 pay raise that is retroactive to Jan 1. So council did consider that last night…
First, I proposed some amendments:
It’s my opinion that, when you run for office, you know the salary and you have no expectation of an increase. So I made an amendment to eliminate the raises for the Law Director and Finance Director. That amendment passed unanimously.
Also, it’s a fact that city is running out of money. We certainly don’t have the funds to give retroactive raises — gratuitously. I made an amendment to make the non-union employee raises effective as of Nov. 1 — instead of being retroactive to Jan 1. This amendment passed by a 4-3 vote (D’Antonio, Costello, and Pribonic voted against the amendment).
The final legislation then passed unanimously. My amendments will save taxpayers about $75,000. This is why you need fiscal conservatives in your legislature.
Employee overtime – Council approved increases to budgeted overtime for the service department and the fire department. At the end of 2015, however, both departments will still incur substantially less overtime than they did in 2014. This year, Fire Chief Mark Stone wisely enacted a policy of using “acting captains” to avoid the necessity of using an actual captain when gaps in the schedule arise. But it’s hard to foresee on-duty injuries, which have cost the department a lot of man hours in 2015. Going forward, we need to find a way to minimize those injuries, particularly back injuries resulting from transporting patients during EMS events.
— Trick-or-Treat is Saturday, October 31, from 5:30 to 7:30.
— Leaf pickup begins this Monday. Click here for more information. As a friendly reminder, please keep leaves off the street and out of ditches.
— The next City Council meeting is Nov. 19.
— Don’t forget to vote on Nov. 3! Notable races include Ward 4 council, Stow Law Director and Stow Clerk of Courts. If you’re on the fence about those races, let me know and I’ll give you my opinion.
— Special thanks to those residents and elected officials who supported and/or attended the fundraiser that Matt Riehl and I held this week. It was a great success thanks to you.