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Salem Council acts to award union raises

SALEM — City council held first readings on ordinances to give 2.5 percent wage increases this year and next year to firefighters, utilities workers and service department workers for wage reopeners on their union contracts.

The ordinances propose 2.5 percent raises effective July 1, 2021 and another 2.5 percent raise effective July 1, 2022. Mayor John Berlin said the city is still negotiating with the police union on the wage reopener for their contract.

The ordinances were among 10 pieces of legislation on Tuesday night’s meeting agenda, but with two members absent, city council could only do first readings. In order to suspend rules to have all three readings on an ordinance at once, there must be six of the seven council members present to vote. Only five attended the meeting, with Councilman Dennis Plegge and Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey both excused.

Council already voted previously to suspend their meetings during the month of August, but President of Council Tom Baker announced council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 3 to take action on the ordinances that couldn’t be approved.

Three ordinances that had been forwarded to council from the Finance Committee, which met prior to the council meeting, also had first readings. One dealt with a raise for the part-time police secretary, another for adjustments to the fringe benefits ordinance related to the police dispatchers and one for additional appropriations to several funds.

During his report, Berlin issued a public thank you to Salem Police Patrolman Samantha Collins for her quick action in stopping a speeding vehicle that was heading into the downtown on a recent Saturday night when there was still a lot of people hanging out from Freed Fest. She moved her cruiser into the path of the car to stop it, totaling the cruiser. She went to the hospital to be checked out, but then finished her shift. Berlin said she stopped what could have become a tragedy.

In other business, council held first reading on resolutions accepting the tax rates determined by the county budget commissions and certifying them to the Columbiana County and Mahoning County auditors and on an ordinance allowing for the sale of the fire department’s used 2005 American LaFrance Freightliner pumper fire truck, which was just replaced by a brand new pumper fire truck.

Council tabled a resolution commending former longtime Salem Civil Service Commission member and chairman Gary Dean for 22 years of dedicated service to the city. Dean recently retired from the commission. He served in the position from Jan. 1, 1999 to July 7 this year.

Berlin, city Law Director Brooke Zellers and Councilman Steve Faber all offered thanks to Dean for his hard work and diligence over the years. Faber said congratulations and mentioned Dean’s late father, Ray, who was a former city treasurer.

“I’m sure your father would be proud,” he said.

The mayor recently appointed Marcie Crowell to fill Dean’s position. She had been serving as commission clerk since fall. Faber also congratulated Crowell on her appointment and said he’s sure her father, Gary Moffett, is also proud. Moffett served many, many years on the commission.

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