WELLSVILLE - Buckeye Water District employees will receive their first pay increase in seven years following a mostly-unanimous vote by BWD trustees at their regular meeting Thursday morning. The four-percent raise applies to all of the district's 15 full-time employees, and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013.
Board member Tim O'Hara, chairman of the district personnel committee, recommended the pay hike based on the results of an employee salary review performed in January. "We have not had a wage increase since Jan. 1 of 2006 for the employees," he said. According to O'Hara, overtime rates have been dramatically reduced through numerous measures undertaken by BWD workers over the least several years.
Bob Wines praised Buckeye workers for keeping overtime hours to a minimum through better time management, such as returning to the site of a line break the following day to fix a road or sidewalk rather than staying many hours after the line itself has been repaired to fix non-water-related issues like pavement. He also said workers are saving gasoline by doubling up in vehicles when traveling to and from work sites.
"Because of our financial situation, we've been pressing to try to cut expenses everywhere, and those are two biggies: overtime and fuel consumption," Wines said.
The only non-affirmative vote on the pay increase was board member Cal Carney, who abstained. Afterwards, Carney said that he would have been more amenable to a raise of two or three percent, but felt that four was too high. In light of BWD's employee health insurance program, which is completely covered by the district with no employee contribution, he believes the workers are well provided for.
Carney also said that if the matter had been presented to him earlier and had a more persuasive case been made, he might have voted yes. "I wasn't even aware of this until today, and I was still thinking about it when it came to a vote," he said.
Following a review of the January operations report, Carney commented on a numerically steep decline in water usage. "Our sales are down, way down," he said. The report showed usage of 832,933 gallons per day, down approximately 87,000 gallons per day. Wines stated that a late payment on the behalf of a "major customer" skewed the usage rate, which is extrapolated from customer billing. "Next month, we'll get caught up, Wines said.
In other business:
* The treasurer's report showed January revenues of $256,795.69 against monthly expenses of $124,774.09, for a net profit of $132,021.60.
* District manager Al DeAngelis reported that BWD had applied for a Water Supply Revolving Loan Account grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the construction of a new Hibbets-Mill Road water line, which serves as the direct feed line into Wellsville.