Coal Grove employees receive raise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Coal Grove Village Council gave some good news to its union employees Monday night Š but it is news some fear may lead to higher water rates for village residents.

The council voted to approve two 75-cent-per-hour pay increases for the eight American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 771-IA union employees that work for the city.

The first would be awarded on Jan. 1, 2006, with the second following on the same date in 2007.

Email newsletter signup

The vote was divisive, however, with councilmen Phil Roush and Joe Waller voting against it and Randall Wise and William Bryant voting in favor.

Councilman Joe Ross abstained, forcing mayor Larry McDaniel to cast the deciding vote in favor of the motion.

The act that the raise was carried out via a motion, rather than an ordinance, which takes three meetings to approve, was a matter of some contention.

&#8220The attorney told us it had to be done by ordinance,” Roush said. &#8220I don't know what the deal is. I've requested a legal opinion from the attorney for the next meeting. We'll just have to wait and get an opinion from the attorney. I don't know what his opinion's going to be.”

Roush said he isn't opposed to the raise, just how high it was. He also felt that the decision should be left for the new council who will take the reins at the start of next year.

Wise and Bryant will leave the council at the end of the year.

&#8220The new council's going to have to inherit this. They're going to have to make tough decisions,” Roush said. &#8220The outgoing council won't have to worry about it.”

Part of Roush's worry stems from the loss of customer Hecla Water who has been purchasing large amounts of water from the village, meaning less money in the water fund's coffers.

&#8220We're losing Hecla Water which is up to an $80,000 loss in the water department,” Roush said. &#8220You're going to have to jack the rates up or lay somebody off. You have two choices.”

Bryant declined to comment on the matter. Wise and McDaniel were unable to be reached for comment.

The raises won't mean immediate increases in water rates in the view of village clerk/treasurer, Debbie Fields. But that's no guarantee for the future.

&#8220Next year (2007) is when I worry,” Fields said. &#8220In a year, when we have to do the rate again, that's when it worries me. Right now? No.”

Fields said that the raise will go to the eight full-time employees, three of which regularly have an average of 10 hours of overtime per month. By that math, a 75-cent raise could cost the village around $14,250 in 2006 and $28,500 in 2007.