Council to discuss clerk raises

WARREN – City Council is looking to give its clerk a $170.53 per month raise, retroactive to Jan. 1.

They will be discussing an ordinance increasing Brenda Smith’s monthly pay from $3,677.85 to $3,848.38 per month in 2014 during Monday’s finance committee meeting. The ordinance will increase her salary to $3,906.11 per month in 2015.

Council’s finance committee chairman Eddie Colbert said council members decided to address Smith’s salary because she is not part of any of the bargaining units in which council has been voting to provide 1.5 percent annual increases through 2015.

Council also is expected discuss a contract for the police department’s ranking officers union, sometimes referred to as the police gold union.

Similar to the contracts of other unions that council voted to approve in its last meeting, the police ranking officers will receive the same percentage wage increases and some will be able to participate in a health insurance program that will require them to pay premiums.

“Our clerk has not had a raise since I led the effort to freeze elected officials’ pay in 2008,” Councilman Alford Novak said.

Council has both a clerk and an assistant clerk position in its office. However, it has not had an assistant clerk since its former clerk, Darla Neugebauer, retired in 2011, after working for the city for 19 years. Smith previously had worked under Neugebauer as the council’s assistant clerk.

Smith was laid off in 2009 from the position as a result of financial woes then facing the city.

“She is essentially doing the work of two people,” Colbert said.

Colbert said this increase will establish the pay rate for the council clerk that is comparable to the pay rate of the executive secretary in the mayor’s office.

Colbert added although she is not part of any of the unions, she will pay the increased healthcare contributions that other city employees will pay.

“Giving her an increase makes logical sense,” Colbert said.

Greg Bartholomew, D-4th ward, said Smith does as much as any other secretary in the city.

“She is essentially on an island by herself because she works in council’s office in the administration building,” he said. “We believe all of the secretaries in the city should be on the same pay scale.”

Eight council members requested to sponsor the legislation.