During one year’s time, the raises equate to about a $25,000 payout in city funds. The amount factors in salaries, pensions, medical benefits and other costs.
This $25,000 piggybacks off an estimated $130,000 in elevated pay union employees should receive in 2014. In mid-2013, commissioners agreed to three separate three-year union contracts, in which fire, police and non-safety service employees receive a 1.5 percent raise in each contract year, equaling the same rate nonbargaining employees just obtained for 2014.
The city’s highest-paid administrators — the fire chief, police chief, finance director and others — are grouped within this nonbargaining category slated to receive raises. Among those obtaining a pay boost: law director and interim city manager Don Icsman, who earned about $135,000 in take-home pay during 2013, ranking No. 1 among all Sandusky employees.
The raises also occur at a puzzling time, considering less than three months ago commissioners slashed $1.1 million from their $16.3 million 2014 everyday operating budget.
Many could question the raises when considering city officials:
•Projected a $1 million shortfall over the next two years. As city revenues remain flat at $16.3 million, expenses increase at about $16.7 million in 2015 and almost $17 million in 2016.
•Trimmed Sandusky’s full-time staffing levels from 291 in 2004 to about 212 as of this past December. Past and present commissioners said budget cuts forced them to reduce staffing levels.
•Approved plans to downsize the fire department, through attrition, to eventually 49 full-time position, decreasing from 53 earlier this year. Commissioners also approved closing the Venice Road fire station for several days a week, starting later this month.