Steubenville council discusses manpower

STEUBENVILLE – City Council heard concerns regarding a loss of employees in future months during a 45-minute finance committee meeting Tuesday night.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins said he understands the city’s budget issues, “but I am tired of trying to balance the city budget by not replacing people who leave.”

Perkins was referring to former city electrician Bob DiFonzo who retired from the city to accept a job with the county.

“Yes, you moved John Wineman to the electrician job but now you don’t have an assistant electrician and John is sometimes working alone. And when you need an assistant you pull someone from the street department and they are working short,” Perkins told Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci.

“I am asking you to send a letter to the Civil Service Commission to start conducting testing for a qualified list of candidates for the police, fire and maintenance and repair departments. I am very afraid we are going to have a bunch of employees retire next year because of their situation with the Public Employees Retirement System,” said Perkins.

Mucci said DiFonzo’s retirement meant he was paid a severance package of unused vacation time.

“We did not fill the assistant electrician job because of financial issues. We are planning to fill that position in 2014. And, I will send a letter to the Civil Service Commission asking them to update the list of qualified candidates,” responded Mucci.

“I have two concerns tonight. We are continuing to be short staffed and next year you will have six to 10 people retire,” said Perkins.

Maintenance and Repair Superintendent Bob Baird said he is trying to “balance the need and the necessity.”

“The electrician rarely, if ever, works with a live circuit. When there is a need we assign someone to assist the mechanic or the electrician. We certainly didn’t anticipate the expense of having an employee leave his city job,” explained Baird.

During council’s sunshine meeting 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf introduced an ordinance authorizing the acting city manager to advertise for supplies for the service department for 2014.

And Metcalf proposed the renewal of a two-year agreement with the Old Fort Steuben Project to provide maintenance services at the fort.

Perkins scheduled a planning committee meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss a resident’s complaint about a house on Bellview Boulevard.