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Published: Wednesday, 6/3/2009

Perrysburg nixes a proposed raise for its firefighters

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg City Council Tuesday night unanimously rejected a fact-finder's report that recommended giving firefighters a 3.25 percent raise this year and a 3 percent raise next year.

The city's 21 firefighters had voted Monday to accept the report, which proposed raises that mirrored those approved in April by City Council for the three police unions.

Councilman Maria Ermie said she voted in favor of the police raises because Perrysburg's wages for police are below the midrange of what police in surrounding communities such as Maumee, Sylvania, and Perrysburg Township are paid. Wages for Perrysburg's firefighters, on the other hand, are at the middle to high range of what firefighters in nearby departments make, she said.

Ms. Ermie also said the proposed raises were "out of touch" with salary increases received by taxpayers employed in the private sector.

"It would be negligent to ignore the unprecedented economic times that we are experiencing and approve this fact-finder's report especially when we are experiencing a 30 percent decline in 2009 revenues compared to 2008," she told council.

In her report, the fact-finder, Sandra Mendel Furman, pointed out that the city planned to do some hiring this year which indicates the city was not positioned for layoffs. She said the city and its unions have historically bargained similar wage packages - something several council members took offense with.

"The fact-finder is not willing to recommend a wage increase out of synchronicity with the police department," Ms. Mendel Furman wrote in her report.

The labor dispute will now go to conciliation for a resolution that is binding.

Also last night, City Council approved a resolution opposing TARTA's proposal to ask voters in Lucas County and in Perrysburg and Rossford to fund the public transit system with a sales tax instead of property taxes.

Perrysburg has contended for some time that the majority of its residents do not use and do not want to pay for TARTA service and that the city could provide an alternative at a lower cost.

Along that vein, council also agreed to solicit qualifications from transportation consultants to advise the city on alternative public transportation systems, costs, and ways to pay for them.



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