Compensation is too deferred for some Perry Township workers

SALEM — Perry Township Police Chief Mike Emigh said Monday the township employees should switch from the current deferred compensation program to a new one, saying there’s still a delay in the money getting into their personal accounts.

“I’ve got a big chunk of change in there, I’m getting annoyed,” he said during the trustees’ meeting.

Emigh raised the issue with trustees regarding the company Empower, saying the first time the money was transferred electronically, it took two days, then the next pay it took six days.

Fiscal Officer Susan Johnston, who also has money in the plan but isn’t currently contributing, said there was an issue on the company’s end so the money had to be sent by check again. Issues had been raised earlier this summer by a road employee who noticed the money had been taken out of his paychecks for two months, but not placed in his deferred comp plan account. Apparently the monthly checks from the township had not been received by the company.

Emigh had even threatened legal action over the situation and employees had spoken to another potential deferred comp program provider.

Since then, trustees had asked that the money be sent immediately after being taken out of employee paychecks and Johnston made arrangements with the company for electronic transfer. Emigh said they need to get their money out of the current plan, saying the provider doesn’t care about them.

Trustee Jim Armeni told him he needs to make sure there’s no penalty. He thought Emigh had been told before there would be a penalty, but Johnston said she was told there would be no penalty. If there’s no penalty, Emigh said “take it out.”

The plan includes three township employees who are actively contributing to their accounts, but five employees are in the plan overall. Trustee Chairman Cliff Mix said the employees who are part of the plan need to tell Johnston what they want to do.

In fire department business, the trustees said a resolution will need to be approved at the next meeting to appropriate money for the new self-contained breathing apparatus equipment needed by the fire department. Fire Chief Bruce Whitcher said the old equipment is 20 years old or more. The estimate is $50,450 for 10, which can come from the safety forces grant, but has to be appropriated first.

Zoning Officer Allan Wolfgang was told to continue pursuing the nuisance complaint against a North Lincoln Avenue property, noting there had been some attempts to mow the front yard and stack up some branches near a tree. Trustees had recently declared the property a nuisance. He also reported 11 permits issued in July and two so far in August.

In other business, the trustees advised Emigh to check into the cost of a new copy/fax/scanner machine after he reported having problems with the current copier which he said trustees had purchased without a service contract. The copy machine had gone on the fritz and he was told someone could come to look at it for $173 per hour, not including the cost of parts. Both Armeni and Mix said they weren’t in favor of spending that kind of money. Trustee Don Rudibaugh asked whether the money for a new copier could come from the safety forces levy, which Johnston said it could since it’s equipment.

The trustees also: accepted a 2019 grant of $3,610 from the gas aggregation program supplier, which will be put towards the cost of a generator for the North station (the 2018 grant of $3,235 has also been set aside for the purchase); appropriated an additional $15,416 to be paid over five years for the new tasers for the police department; approved additional appropriations of $14,057 towards the paving for this year; approved payment of a then & now bill for $913 to Bearcom for installing three radios into road department equipment (there had been no purchase order, so the bill had to be approved after the fact); and advised Emigh of a $500 safety equipment grant from the township’s insurance provider. Johnston was checking to see if the grant could go toward upgrading the department’s handguns.

Trustees also heard back from the Ohio Department of Transportation about putting up jake brake signs on state Route 14 (Benton Road). A resolution will be prepared for the next meeting.

Rudibaugh reported he and a road worker went out to Stewart Road to check out the drainage/flooding situation and determined it’s going to be a difficult fix. The worker plans to respond during a heavy rain to check it out further and talk with the Columbiana County Engineer’s Office to determine a solution.

Trustees gave Johnston authorization to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for storm damage on Egypt Road that the township had to address or will have to address.