Cuyahoga Falls Finance Director explains salary supplement proposal

From Staff Reports Published:

Cuyahoga Falls -- City Finance Director Joseph Brodzinski said controlling expenses was the goal of the proposed salary "supplement" that the city had proposed awarding to it employees.

The city received an estate tax settlement which City Councilmember Diana Colavecchio (D-5) said "was about $1.3 million." In early December, Mayor Don Robart said the city had chosen to allocate "about two-thirds" of that amount back to its full-time employees in the form of a one-time salary supplement. Pending legislation, if approved, would authorize the city to pay $3,500 to every full-time employee in January. Also proposed is $1,250 for members of City Council and its clerk.

The legislation was discussed by City Council Dec. 3, but was held by the finance committee, and has not been reviewed by Council since then.

In mid-December, Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey said officials heard from a resident who said the $1.3 million settlement belongs to Silver Lake instead of Cuyahoga Falls. Since then, village and city officials have been discussing the issue.

Brodzinski emphasized that the proposed salary supplement was not a raise or a bonus.

In conjunction with the salary supplement, the city was looking to extend all of the employee union contracts by one additional year, said Deputy Finance Director Scott Fitzsimmons.

"We were attempting to give a one-time salary supplement in lieu of raises," said Brodzinski. "It would have had a financial impact in 2013, but not in 2014 and beyond."

He noted that the city administration will be in negotiations with all six of its employee unions in 2013.

"If the city and the unions are at [an] impasse, the next step is an assigned fact-finder," said Brodzinski in an email to the Falls News-Press Dec. 26. "Following that step would be a conciliator."

He expressed concerns about having a conciliator enter the negotiations.

"A fact-finder or conciliator could come in and say … there has only been one raise in the last four years and you have money now, so give it out in the form of raises today," Brodzinski wrote in the email. "We never want to be in a position of being forced by a conciliator, with no vested interest in our city, of telling us how to handle operations."

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