Lisbon council talks hours, wages

LISBON –The mayor wants hours increased for one village employee and a pay raise for another, sparking discussion at this week’s council meeting about the need to explore granting all village workers a wage increase.

Mayor Joseph Morenz requested council increase the hours of parks supervisor Dana Blackburn, from 10 hours per week between October and March to 30 hours. Blackburn, who is paid $10 an hour, works 30 hours per week the rest of the year.

Morenz said Blackburn has a lot of projects she will be working on this fall and winter, such as developing a dog park and camping spots at Willow Grove Park, not to mention seeking grant funding for a new bridge at the park.

He also asked that the monthly salary of building/zoning inspector Zach Barkley be increased from $306 to $406. Barkley’s duties have also been increased significantly as part of the mayor’s efforts to clean up the town’s appearance.

Councilman Jeff Snyder is sure the raises are deserved, but he is concerned whether the village can afford any pay raises. The village finance committee is in discussions about recommending an across-the-board pay raises for all village employees, which last occurred in 2014.

“I just want to know where the money is coming from,” he said, noting income tax collections are currently $36,000 behind last year. “I think we should at least look at this before we begin jumping on this.”

Councilman Vito DiIullo agreed. “It’s not a question of whether (Barkley) is doing a good job, but is the money there,” he said.

Fiscal officer Tracey Wonner said any individual pay raises should be discussed in the context of granting a pay raise to all village employees, which is under consideration by the finance committee. She said an across-the-board 3 percent raise would cost the village an additional $30,000 in 2018.

The finance committee was also asked to consider restoring health insurance coverage for employee spouses and children, and Wonner said preliminary figures show that would increase the village’s annual premium costs from $119,000 to about $200,000.

Wonner suggested another finance committee meeting be scheduled for later in the month to discuss the compensation issue further. Mayor Morenz apologized for missing the initial meeting, saying it was an oversight on his part.

She said the problem is village income has remained relatively flat for the past decade, and any money that goes to pay raises is less they will have to spend elsewhere.

“These are tough decisions. I’m not saying we can’t do this, but I want to know for sure,” Wonner said.

Council members Roger Gallo and Cheryl Mills were absent from the meeting.