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Chief’s pay raise request is out of line

A recent letter to Liberty trustees from police Chief Toby Meloro seeking a 15.7 percent raise over the next three years is exorbitant and should be denied without debate.

Unfortunately, trustees’ comments made to our reporter about the proposal make it appear that they are open to the discussion.

We strenuously disagree.

Meloro, first appointed chief in 2018, is paid $50.11 per hour, or $104,228 per year. He now is requesting raises of 5 percent per year for three years, retroactively to January 2021. If granted, the salary increases would bring his pay rate to $58 per hour, or $120,640 annually, by the contract’s end.

For comparison, here are the salaries of a few other local police chiefs: Poland Village recently hired a police chief at $26.25 per hour.

Benjamin T. Harrell, a more-than-30-year police veteran, took over as chief in Warren Township in 2019 for a salary of $54,000 per year.

Warren city’s police chief earns $92,687.92 per year.

Youngstown’s police chief earns $94,249.79 per year.

And the Trumbull County sheriff, who supervises a department that patrols the entire county and oversees the Trumbull County jail, by Ohio statute, earns $105,921 per year.

Based only on these comparable local police chief salaries, we argue that Meloro’s request is out of line.

In his letter to trustees, Meloro stated the Liberty Police Department has been efficient, financially responsible and “morale among officers is at the highest level ever.”

Meloro makes these statements without providing evidence.

“Although we have accomplished so much in the past three years together, I believe there is still some work that needs to be done. That is why I am requesting you give me a three-year contract,” Meloro states in his letter.

When asked about the proposal, Trustee Devon Stanley said he agreed with Meloro’s statements about his performance and said he is not opposed to considering the request.

Trustee Arnie Clebone did not commit either way, but said if the board does decide to consider the raise request, it likely will be discussed in an executive session.

Trustee Greg Cizmar was the only one of the three to shut the door on the increased salary immediately, saying he doesn’t expect to take up the matter, noting that he is satisfied with the current situation.

That is the correct answer.

So often those in the public service sector seem to forget that the job is about serving the public.

Let’s also not forget if trustees were to award this request, it would be the raise that keeps on giving because Ohio public pensions are based on a retiree’s highest three years of earnings in public employment. Raising Meloro’s salary by more than 16 percent over the next three years should be denied.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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