During the June 3rd finance committee meeting.
City Council deliberated over options presented by Mrs. Debevec, the chair of finance which included to give no raise, raise pay for the law director to match the finance director position over a two-year span, raise pay for the law director to match the finance director position over a 4-year span, and a plan to raise pay for positions after a two year break.
Mrs. Debevec entertained feedback from the rest of council where each council member provided their thoughts. All council members mentioned that the City of Barberton is in hard times. Mrs. Angeloff and Mrs. Frey mentioned they are concerned about only raising pay for one position while not doing anything for other positions. Others mentioned that we have no money for raises but everyone does deserve something. The council was divided across the room on the finer details.
Mrs. Coburn said that “Looking at it like we are in depression is very upsetting to me.” and continued “I think were wrong to continue to look at it like we are in a depression.”. Mrs. Coburn was advocating for giving some sort of raise. Mrs. Debevec replied “In my humble option, that’s how it was delivered to us” then read quotes by Mayor Judge in the Akron Beacon Journal stating that he believes the next 2 years are going to be very hard.
This conversation led to a dialog of the reserve funds between Mr. Flaker the Finance Director and Mrs. Angeloff ward 2 Councilwoman. Mr. Flaker mentions that the reserve fund is roughly at $125k and that $125k was used this past year to balance the budget. Talks of bargaining contracts were quickly cautioned my the Service Director, Mike Vinay.
The finance committee could have passed a pay raise for the Law Director position but with the uncertainty that any pay raise would pass in council, Mrs. Debevec hosted another vote for no pay increases or a 1.5% raise for the next four years. Councilwoman Coburn and Frey abstained from voting as the required vote count was reached before they were asked. At this point, City Council has agreed to freeze pay for the next 4 years for all elected officials.
An idea for future talks was put out there by Mrs. Debevec. Debevec provided documents regarding pay scales done by the City of Akron. She suggested that if the plan was modeled for Barberton’s specific environment, it would remove the burden of the Council having to make the decisions every 4 years. It would require a Charter change and would not be this year. Mrs. Debevec wanted to bring awareness that there will be other options if they are proactive before the next 4 years.
The City Council will vote on the pay freeze the following Monday to make it official.
You can listen to the audio of the meeting below.