Employee pay scale topic of Wintersville meeting

WINTERSVILLE — Village employees, especially their pay scale, were a lengthy topic of discussion at the Village Council meeting Tuesday.

Members of council voted unanimously to increase the pay of all village employees beginning with their first pay of this year. Mayor Bob Gale asked that council vote the ordnance in as an emergency issue so that they could make the first pay period.

Upon hearing that the Wintersville Police Department recently lost an officer, Councilman Randy Spence suggested the village consider pay incentives to help retain officers in the village.

Gale stated that they would have to discuss the matter in a finance meeting or an executive session, but did give some reasons why that might not be possible.

Gale admitted the village has issues retaining young officers, but said that is a part of being a small village. He compared the village to a “AAA farm league” baseball team, saying that a lot of time young officers come out of the academies and join small forces to see if it is what they really want to do and if they are good at it, then they move on to larger departments.

According to Gale, there is not a lot that can be done about it because it comes down to a matter of money. He stated the problem is not just in the police department, but all areas of village employment.

“We can’t look at this as a business,” he said. “It’s not. The simple fact is what we pay is what we can afford. We can’t pay out more than we bring in.”

Councilman Randy Spence agreed.

“It’s not that they don’t deserve more, it’s that we can’t pay more,” he said.

Councilman Jason Mattern asked Police Chief Art Fowler to research and create a comparison of what the village pays and what other similar communities pay. That information is to be presented at the next finance meeting.

Fowler also updated the council on the armed robbery that took place on Jan. 2 at the Marathon Gas Station at 537 Main St. Fowler said that thanks to surveillance cameras at the business, traffic cameras and the excellent police work of his officers, it took less than 24 hours to apprehend the two suspects in Lincoln Park, Mich.

“My hat’s off to them,” he said.

Fowler said they still do not know what brought the male and female suspects to Wintersville, but the female has already waived extradition and should be back in Jefferson County in the next few weeks. The male has additional legal issues in Wayne County, Mich., which must be handled before being brought here to face charges. There is no specific date for his return.

Council also elected Robert Merriman was re-elected as council president.