By Sean Rice
If Celina residents approve the election day question seeking to increase the city income tax rate from 1 percent to 1.5 percent, all residents would be required to pay the new portion of income tax.
Celina City Council members moved forward Monday night with an ordinance that caps the income tax credit given those city residents who work and pay income tax in other communities at 1 percent. If the tax rate moves to 1.5 percent, the credit would stay at 1 percent, under the ordinance, but residents must pay the .5 percent increase amount to Celina.
Residents not currently required to pay Celina income tax, such as those on a fixed Social Security income, will continue to be exempt, officials pointed out.
Council members amended the ordinance sealing the credit to add an emergency clause, which allows the ordinance to take effect immediately after the final vote at the next meeting.
Members did not discuss the tax credit Monday, nor did they discuss specific changes to the new three-year employment contract for union employees that passed immediately as an emergency issue on first reading, a move that required a suspension of the normal three readings procedure. The contract with Celina Municipal Employee Representative Committee (CMERC) gives covered employees a 3 percent raise this year, a 3 percent raise next year and a 4 percent raise in the final year of the contract, The Daily Standard learned.
Council members were each informed of the contract during a series of private meetings with safety-service director to-be, Jeff Hazel. Ohio law allows council to exclude the public from meetings related to employment contract negotiations.
Hazel, who currently holds the position of administrative services director, was appointed by Mayor Sharon LaRue to the top non-elected position of safety-service director. He will replace Mike Sovinski, who retires at the end of the month after more than 30 years as an employee.
CMERC includes union employees who are not included in the police and fire department unions. The contract retroactively took effect Oct. 1.
According to an executive summary of the negotiations obtained by the newspaper, employees must now start paying a portion of health care costs. The summary states the city will save $102,000 from that change during the three-year contract term.
Other changes outlined in the summary include:
´ Longevity pay will be phased out, but current long-standing employees are grandfathered;
´ The probationary period for promoted employees are reduced from 120 to 90 days;
´ Employees on an unpaid leave of absence will not accumulate sick or vacation time;
´ New employees will receive three personal leave days annually, reduced from six days.
Council members passed the first of three readings of a proposed ordinance approving an employment contract for non-union employees. Council member Rick Bachelor requested the ordinance be discussed in committee because it has not yet been discussed by members. Council member Angie King recommended moving forward with the first reading.
A memo attached to the non-union contract states the document follows equally with the contract for union employees under CMERC, for insurance, wages and benefits.
In other business, members:
´ Passed an emergency ordinance allowing Ohio Department of Transportation to resurface Ohio 197 inside Celina, from the intersection of Wayne Street and Myers Road north out of Celina. The 2011 project will be no cost to Celina.
´ Learned that officials from the Japanese city of Nan Dan Cho, Celina's sister city, visited Celina during the weekend. LaRue said officials wanted to secure their relationship with Celina's new administration and to inform Celina that Nan Dan Cho will be merging with three other Japanese cities to create one large city, to be called Minami-Awaji. "They are definitely ready to do some economic exchanges with us."