STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – Sparks continued to fly at the Struthers City Council meeting on Wednesday regarding wage increases for city workers.
Council was forced to make a decision about legislation Mayor Terry Stocker vetoed at the beginning of the month. They decided to reject it by a 5-2 vote, meaning the salaries of six department heads will be staying the same.
Things got heated in Caucus over the fact that a decision to accept or reject the veto wasn’t placed on the agenda.
“I didn’t see anything on the agenda that addressed Council’s override of the veto,” Stocker said.
Those words started a firestorm between Council and the mayor.
“We passed the budget in March of 2016, then we go to reflect our ordinances to reflect the budget. So we’ve had this discussion ongoing to three readings and Council vetoed 7-0,” said Michael Patrick, Council At-large.
Stocker still demanded answers.
“The budget’s healthy. I believe it’s impacting all the other department heads benefit-wise, pension-wise and I just believe that it was an unfair distribution, and I think it was mean-spirited by those councilmen…I commend the two other councilmen for seeing it differently.”
He says Council left him no choice but to veto the legislation based on what he called “unfair distribution of salary,” as well as calling the Ohio Revised Code into question regarding their meeting.
“In these meetings, we talked about how at this time, the department heads weren’t warranted a raise. Some of them had personally told me they didn’t want the $1,000,” Patrick said.
“I don’t see any reason why we should hold those people and those families without that raise until October when everything is in place now,” said 1st Ward Councilman Tony Fire.
Stocker says this move by Council creates a conflicting message between city departments and is an injustice to those workers.
“What I want to communicate from the department heads is that we do respect you. We don’t want to blow this out,” said Tax Commissioner James Bertrando.
“I’m pretty sure that the statutes speaks for itself and I disagree with the Law Director’s opinion, but I have to live with that at this time until I decide to take any further action,” Stocker said.
This was the last meeting before summer recess. Council can revisit the wage increase distribution in October, unless Stocker decides to take executive action regarding the law.