Marietta Council raising its pay

Next year’s Marietta City Council can expect a $1,750 raise-the first salary increase members will have received since 2005, according to Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, who chairs council’s employee relations committee.

“By code the pay for council members elected for the 2014 and 2015 term has to be set by the first of February so those running for office will know what the pay will be,” he said.

During a committee meeting Tuesday, members agreed the annual salary should be increased from the current $5,500, set in 2005, to $7,250 due to changes in Ohio Public Employees Retirement System regulations.

City law director Paul Bertram III said the new OPERS rules require employees to be paid at least $600 per month in order to qualify for service credits toward state retirement benefits.

Council president Walt Brothers noted he and fellow councilmen are currently paid less than Ohio’s minimum wage of $7.85 per hour.

“We’re making about $5.73 an hour now,” he said. “I think we should be making at least minimum wage.”

Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, noted the lower pay provides little incentive for people to run for a seat on council.

Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, agreed.

“Most of us are retirement age,” he said. “If we want to attract young people to serve on council, we need to do something.”

Out of their current $5,500 council members must pay a portion of their city health insurance premiums in addition to paying toward OPERS retirement benefits. Federal, state and local taxes are also taken out of the monthly paychecks.

Legislation approving the pay increase for 2014 and 2015 will be introduced during Thursday’s regular council meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park.

Also on Tuesday, Noland’s lands, buildings and parks committee members agreed to seek bids for resurfacing of the Parking Partners lot on Second Street.

Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said paving the lot with 1.25-inches of asphalt and striping the pavement afterward would cost an estimated $72,500.

“That would allow us to clean the whole lot and repair the worst cracks in the pavement, especially those on the back half of the lot,” he said. “And the work could be done in about two days.”

Lambert said the lot has 192 spaces, and 125 of those are currently being leased for $25 per month.

City engineer Joe Tucker noted a portion of those proceeds should be set aside for maintenance of the parking lot.

Funding for the pavement project would come from $40,000 in streets monies that had been set aside for alley repairs. Another $40,500 comes out of carryover funds from the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant entitlement.

Noland noted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the CDBG funding, recently sent a letter saying the carryover funds had to be spent or the city would lose them.

The parking lot paving project is expected to be contracted out in the spring.

On a related parking issue, city safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said police had recently issued at least four citations on vehicles that were apparently illegally parked in the numbered leased spaces in the Parking Partners lot.

Kalter said some of those vehicles belonged to people who were paying to rent the spaces.

“Anyone leasing a parking space is issued a placard that they must hang from the rear-view mirror on their vehicle, or it’s considered improperly parked,” Hupp said. “Police officers have no other way to know whether a car is illegally parked or not.”