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Council OKs sewer project, discusses raises

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:47 PM

The Lebanon City Council met Wednesday in a special called meeting to take care of a few final items on final reading, including an ordinance that would increase the city’s funding by $75,000 for a sewer extension project for the So.F.teR project.

The council approved the ordinance on first reading Tuesday, which gave the go-ahead for bids for sewer infrastructure and the request for the city to fund an additional $75,000.

Because the city has already committed to contribute $170,000 toward the sewer extension project, at Wednesday’s meeting Councilor Rob Cesternino asked the ordinance be amended to only include approving the bids, but not the $75,000 request.

The low bid came from Scott and Ritter, Inc., from Bowling Green, Ky., totaling $662,907.

Cesternino said originally bids were seen upward of $900,000 for the project.

“The low bid now is a 33-percent decrease from the original bid, but they’re asking us to go up and give a 40-percent increase,” Cesternino said.

Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines said the city not paying the $75,000 wouldn’t change the scope of the project. He said it was simply a request.

The amendment to the ordinance passed unanimously, with Councilor Kathy Warmath absent, and the ordinance then passed on final reading, as well.

The extension is set to extend a sewer line from the intersection of Quarry Loop Road and Highway 109 to the Kenwal Steel Plant and So.F.teR, an Italy-based plastics manufacturer.

Following the meeting, the council met in a work session to discuss one-step increases for city employees.

The idea of one-step raises for employees has been in limbo the past few weeks, with an ordinance to give a one-step raise to some employees passing Oct. 29 followed by Mayor Philip Craighead vetoing it two days later.

Originally, the ordinance would only give raises to those who didn’t receive a pay increase or promotion included in the 2013-14 fiscal year budget, and those who did receive a raise then would be excluded from this one-step increase.

However, at the council’s first meeting following the veto, Craighead proposed the same ordinance, just adding the additional employees left out – around 20 – to include giving a raise to all full-time city employees.

The council then amended Craighead’s proposal to include adding “permanent part-time” employees to also receive the raise.

The ordinance then failed to pass by a 2-2 vote.

At Wednesday’s work session, Craighead said the across-the-board one-step raise for full-time employees would total around $148,000, and part-time would total around $6,500.

Craighead said the city was about $600,000 ahead of projection because of things like sales tax revenue. He said the city was fortunate to have the money to be able to afford to give raises at all.

Councilor Fred Burton then questioned why department heads didn’t ask for raises during last year’s budget process and thought waiting until this year’s budget process in a few months might be an idea.

Cesternino said he believed they “cut them off at the knees pretty early” and told department heads specifically not to ask for raises in order to focus on balancing the budget last year.

“I think our employees deserve it, and I hope Tuesday night we get the vote for the across-the-board raise,” Craighead said. “Our employees got us through the last four or five years of hard times, and it’s time to get them back up."

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