MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council met Thursday to discuss how many village workers may be laid off and also met with union workers to discuss possible concessions.
Council first met behind closed doors with members of the Communication Workers of America Local 4527 and the Mingo Safety Forces Association Local 1. The union representatives and council said the meeting was positive concerning discussion about possible concessions to save money.
The village sent out lay-off notices to all workers effective Dec. 29 as a way to save money on vacation time. Union workers are entitled to vacation time on Jan. 1.
George Stoddart, CWA local president, said the union was attempting to get the lay-off notices rescinded.
"Not everyone will get laid off. There will be concession talks with both unions," he said.
Stoddart said the union needs specific budget numbers from council before any concession offers are made.
Russell Hyde, safety forces president, said the union is willing to work with council on concessions.
"(Thursday's) meeting was very positive. We made proposals and suggestions, and they listened. Both sides came out of the meeting thinking we will be able to work something out," he said.
Council, during its open meeting about the finances, discussed how much money is available in the general fund and in several special revenue funds to pay for workers.
The 2013 general fund will total about $825,000, with carryover money from this year.
Village Clerk John Angelica said there will only be about $404,000 left after subtracting salaries for the mayor, council, clerk, law director, fuel for vehicles, contract services, including money to pay the state auditor's office for an audit, and materials and equipment for the service department. The police and fire chief salaries total about $70,000, leaving only about $264,000 for nine employees in the general fund, including firefighters, police officers and two service department workers.
Councilman John Bracone questioned if there will be enough money in the general fund pay for any workers once unemployment benefits are subtracted. The village will have to pay six months of unemployment benefits plus six months of medical benefits for the police and fire departments and three months of medical benefits for the service department workers.
"This is where you are going to earn your paycheck," Angelica said to council about trying to figure out of a budget for 2013.
Bracone kept asking Angelica for exact cost figures for unemployment benefits, but Angelica said the exact figures weren't available for the state unemployment office. Angelica left the meeting angry before it was over, claiming he was going to submit his resignation.
Police Chief Steven Maguschak said he can't prepare a budget for his department without exact figures of what is going to be available.
Council also is considering combining the water and sewer departments and the layoff of five of the 11 workers. But the village must complete automation projects at both the water and sewer plants before the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will allow the combining of the departments. Work is under way to automate both plants, village officials said.
Councilman John Fabian said the unions and council can't talk concessions until exact budget figures are provided.
Maguschak said if everyone under the general fund is laid off, the village should give the residents back the tax money collected because the village will only be in the water and sewer business.
Fire Chief John Wright asked council for permission to explore the idea of placing a fire and emergency medical services levy on the May 7 primary election ballot. One mill in Mingo Junction will only generate $38,000. The fire department's budget in 2012 was $305,000, meaning an 8-mill levy is required.
Council has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Municipal Building for residents to offer input on the idea of turning off the streetlights as a cost-savings measure. Council has three options. One is turning off all the lights; the second is keeping about 100 streetlights on at intersections; or third, imposing a $4-per-month fee to residents to keep all the streetlights on.
Council scheduled a meeting after the public hearing to keep talking about the budget.