Deputies, jailers to get raises

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners Wednesday granted pay raises to deputies and corrections officers at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Michael Seyer of Clemans, Nelson & Associates, the county’s labor consultant, said the jail staffers, who are members of the Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council, and the deputies, dispatchers and clerical staff, who are members of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, had negotiations on a wage reopener. There are 57 members of the unions at the sheriff’s department.

Seyer said both unions received a 1.5 percent pay increase in 2012, the first year of the three-year contract, and a 1 percent raise in the next two years. The wage reopener grants both unions an addition 2 percent this year and in 2014, for a total pay increase of 3 percent.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said the unions had gone seven years without a pay increase and there was no overtime. He said overtime pay also will now be allowed.

Commissioners said the pay increase and overtime pay will amount to about $140,000 a year.

Commissioners also received a letter in response from the Prime Time Office On Aging to a proposal the commissioners heard in March from a group that wants to take some of the county’s senior levy money and use it to operate a senior center.

Judy Owings, Prime Time director, said if the levy money was decreased it would result in fewer home-delivered meals to senior citizens. She said county resident are significantly below the state income median and there is high unemployment, resulting in families finding it more difficult to help older family members.

Tri-State Health Services, which operates Prime Time, also is moving forward with the development of a senior center, Owings said.

Jefferson County Senior Services made a pitch to the commissioners in March to take some of the senior levy money and use it to operate a senior center the group wants to open.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said decreasing the levy amount would literally “take food out of people’s mouths.

County Commissioner David Maple said Prime Time may open a senior center, something the Jefferson County Senior Services group also is “passionate” about.

And county Commissioner Thomas Graham suggested the Jefferson County Senior Services get a levy approved for its senior center. He said Prime Time working to open a senior center would save taxpayers money.

Commissioners also approved a settlement agreement with Keith Eckmeyer of Steel Valley Raceway located at Friendship Park. Eckmeyer signed a 20-year contract with the commissioners in 2004 to lease the old runway at the park at about $300 a month.

Eckmeyer has been threatening to file a lawsuit against the county for not making improvements to the runway area as part of his contract.

The settlement will pay Eckmeyer $15,000 to end the contract. The agreement still has to be approved by Eckmeyer and the Friendship Park Board.

Commissioners also:

Were informed the county’s liability cost for 2013 will be $373,409 through the County Risk Sharing Authority. It is an increase of $4,396 from last year.

Agreed to allow county Engineer James Branagan to continue a purchasing agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for road salt. Branagan said the county was able to buy road salt at $48 a ton this past winter through the program. He said the price of salt was as high as $106 a ton several years ago. He said the mild winters impacted the recent cost of salt. He said the county will buy additional salt to fill up storage bins at the $48 price before next winter, when ODOT will negotiate a new price through private companies.

Approved six demolition contracts totaling $70,621 through the Move Ohio Forward Demolition Grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Three houses in Toronto and one each in Steubenville, Tiltonsville and Smithfield will be demolished, according to the county Regional Planning Commission.

Were asked by the county water and sewer department to allow Stumphauzer & O’Toole, the county’s water law firm, to make updates to the county’s water rules and regulations at a cost not to exceed $7,500. Commissioners tabled the request, asking the water and sewer department to get more estimates from law firms.