At their first meeting of the year, the Jerome Township Trustees made a series of personnel moves.
Following a 45-minute executive session, the trustees voted to offer a 3-percent pay increase for the township’s full-time employees, except for the fire department, which is under a separate contract.
Fiscal officer Robert Caldwell said the move would impact two members of the road crew, two members of the zoning department and the township’s administrative specialist. Caldwell said the decision will cost the township about $6,500 for the year. The fiscal officer said he budgeted for the move. He said the payroll for the five employees is $215,000.
Additionally, the trustees voted to offer a $1 raise for a newly hired employee once he completes his probationary period and acquires his commercial driver’s license (CDL). The trustees said they would pay the fees for the employee to get his CDL.
The trustees set the fiscal officer’s pay at $26, 852 for the year and approved their pay for the year at $17,638. Joe Craft will serve as board president and C.J. Lovejoy will serve as vice president.
Fire Chief Doug Stewart said six internal candidates have applied for the lieutenant’s position, vacated by the retirement of Brian Bemiller
He said he has hired Bemiller’s replacement as a firefighter, but has not yet made a decision on the lieutenant position. The department has hired three additional full-time firefighters
The chief also said he has interviewed three part-time candidates and each have been forwarded for a background check and physical. He said later this week he will interview another eight candidates.
Stewart said he eventually wants to have two part-time officers, in addition to the full-time officers, on each shift. The chief said the personnel moves, with salary, benefits, gear and training, will add about $300,000 to the department’s budget.
Stewart said he recently hosted an external stakeholders meeting to determine what residents and business owners expect from the fire department. The chief said about 20 people participated in the meeting. He called the meeting “pivotal.”
Stewart said he is working to compile the information so the department can create a strategic plan. That plan is expected to be ready in February.
The department saw a 12.5-percent increase in run activity in 2018. The department’s fire and EMS officials responded to 754 incidents. Stewart said most departments see an annual increase of about 6 to 8-percent each year.
“In December we actually saw a bit of a slow down, but January is already on a record pace,” Stewart said.
As part of the organizational meeting, the trustees discussed the possibility of holding one evening meeting and one morning meeting each month. Caldwell said he would not be able to attend a morning meeting, at least not for the first four months of the year.
The trustees discussed a morning meeting time between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.
“I think the challenge would be if you have a hearing before the meeting,” Craft said.
He said public hearings could be shifted to the evening meetings. He said many townships have only one meeting a month, “but we have a lot of things going on and we certainly need two meetings.”
Eventually the trustees decided to continue with the current schedule, meeting at 7 p.m., the first and third Monday of each month.
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