Council discusses pay raises in response to Kathy Hecht’s actions

Athens City Council meeting Tuesday September 8, 2015 Athens, Ohio
Athens City Council meeting
Tuesday September 8, 2015
Athens, Ohio

Though Athens City Law Director Pat Lang said Athens City Auditor Kathy Hecht’s 2-to-4 percent nonunion pay raises were within her power, Athens City Council members still thinks it’s a topic of discussion.

At their weekly Monday night meeting, councilmembers, along with Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl and Athens Service-Safety Director Paula Horan-Moseley, discussed how to handle the situation, which permitted raises to four city employees without the permission of city council.

Hecht was not in attendance at the meeting.

“We’re requesting an additional 1 percent (raise) for non-union (workers who didn’t previously receive raises),” Horan-Moseley said.

That would help balance out the 2-to-4 percent pay raises already given by Hecht to certain members of her office, Horan-Mosely said.

Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, said that wasn’t the best way to handle the situation.

“It seems to me … that the bump up (of 1 percent) is reactionary,” Papai said. “I don’t know if that’s the way to respond to this matter.”

A 1-percent pay raise for nonunion employees would cost $47,000 annually, Wiehl said.

Wiehl said there is a better way to take control of the dilemma.

“If (council) gave away (its) power to set salaries, (council) should take it back,” Wiehl said. “I’m unhappy right now.”

Wiehl said communications between his office and the auditor’s office have improved in recent days.

“We’re getting emails back and forth,” he said.

After Hecht said in a previous Post report that Wiehl “was not her boss,” Wiehl said that wasn’t necessarily true.

“She works for me,” Wiehl said. “I work for her. I vote. She has to have as much respect for me as mayor as (she would for a) voter.”

Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, said he still wished to address the issue more at the next committee meeting in two weeks.

“What I’m hoping to do is, by next committee meeting, come up with some … possible solutions looking at the totality of this thing,” Risner said.

In the meantime, the Athens City Finance and Personnel Committee will hold a meeting with the auditor’s office on Wednesday to discuss budgetary issues.

Council also discussed plans for a new indoor and outdoor pool within the city. Last week, there was a public meeting for Athens residents to suggest what they might want to see added to the pools at the Athens Community Center.

“The most logical plan would be to demo the old pool,” Papai said.

Many council members were concerned with paying for both projects.

“My fear is we design the outdoor unit … and say ‘oops, it was a $10 million project and we only have $3 million left,’ ” Council President Chris Knisely said.

Consultants for the pool project bid the project at $7 million for both an indoor and outdoor pool, Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran, D-at large, said.



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