Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA – As stated by Mayor Lucy Fess upon the last commission meeting of 2013, “Where has the year gone?”
Where indeed, as commission members spent the first near-30 minutes of the night’s meeting in executive session to discuss wage negotiations for Local Union 252, International Association of Firefighters.
Those two resolutions for firefighters and fire officers, 37 full time employees, were subsequently adopted later in the agenda with Bob Bloom, union president, in attendance to give thanks to city leaders and staff on what he says was, “By far the easiest negotiations I’ve ever been involved.”
This sentiment was likewise echoed by Fess and Stacy Wall, city law director, who explained that the involved parties would see a wage increase of 2 percent with some minor changes made to HSA or health savings accounts, and some language in regards to physical fitness and evaluations. Negotiations will also see an end to overtime and instead a return to salary with comp time.
Commission also adopted five resolutions with Ed Krieger, power systems superintendent, at the helm that included continuing the services of Cooperative Response Center (CRC) Inc. for after-hour customer call answering and dispatch services for the department.
“These guys do an outstanding job for us,” said Krieger, emphasizing utilization of CRC was one of the best decisions ever made, before presenting an annual request to purchase no. 2 fuel oil for the two large gas turbines that has saved the city as much as $1.3 million on electric bills.
Krieger also requested continuing the consulting and engineering services of Sawvel and Associates, as well as, membership to the American Municipal Power Inc. While ending his time on the floor with a resolution that would see an end to costly leasing of data lines by using the city’s new fiber optic network for connection to DP&L substations instead.
“The costs went from the $10,000 neighborhood to $40,000,” said Krieger in regards to the ‘renting’ of data lines with response to problems also a troubling factor given they are a critical part to the city’s infrastructure. The director cited the communication system is what DP&L uses to control the equipment that serves the transmission system and engaged the company with the, “thought that they could utilize part of our fiber optic system and we could eliminate the existing situation. They are very excited about doing that.”
Commission adopted all resolutions pertaining to the power system, as well as a transfer of cash from the general fund for fiscal year 2013 and 2014, and a resolution opposing House Bill 5 (HB5) now in the senate which threatens the financial stability of municipalities, according to Gary Huff, city manager.
Stating passage of the bill could result in a loss of half a million to $1.2 million annually Huff stated it, “is detrimental to our operations,” with the resolution sending a clear message of their disapproval.
Commission meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month, on the second floor of the Government Municipal Complex, in the commission chamber.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend.