New three-year contracts with two of Defiance City Hall’s three employee unions were approved by city council Tuesday night.
A pair of related ordinances received approval, while six other legislative matters, including a contract for a big water quality upgrade at the city’s water treatment plant (see related story), were handled as well.
Terms of the new three-year contracts with the Defiance Police Officers Association and the Local 166, International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO, are a little different.
While the police union will receive annual wage increases of 2%, 2.5% and 2.5% during the contract period, the firefighters union agreed to yearly increases of 2.5%, 2.5% and 0.5%.
Both contracts run through 2023, while each ordinance includes an emergency clause, meaning the legislation becomes law upon the mayor’s signature rather than after the regular 30-day waiting period.
City Administrator Jeff Leonard had high praise for both unions in regard to the negotiation process.
“It was actually very easy to sit down with both unions and negotiate the deal,” he said. “I think we all wanted to make sure that could we move forward, especially with the finances and just what has taken place in 2020. I think we were all were very anxious and ready to move on to a nice three-year deal; we did. And I really have to commend both unions and their leadership because they really did step up to the plate and participate.”
Keeping with personnel matters, council approved an ordinance allowing wage increases of 2.5% for the city’s non-union employees. It too includes an emergency clause.
Included among the raises is an increase for the council clerk whose salary will go from $21,550 in 2020 to $24,960 in 2021, a 15.8% difference.
Also Tuesday, council approved two ordinances allowing large expansions of two community reinvestment areas (3 and 4).
Area number 3 is generally south of the Maumee River and east of the Auglaize River, while area number 4 includes areas between Baltimore Road and the Maumee River on the city’s southwest side.
The expansions will approximately double both districts.
For example, area 3 will now include the downtown area southward almost to the city limits along South Clinton Street. This will take in the former high school/junior high school property on Arabella Street, which the city has acquired but hopes to turn over to a future developer for a new purpose.
Area number 4 will now include Enterprise Industrial Park, and areas located south of Baltimore Road.
CRAs allow abatement of taxes on new investment within their boundaries for a stated period.
For example, Law Director Sean O’Donnell told council that 100% of taxes could be abated for industrial growth or remodeling for 12 or 15 years, while a 75% abatement could be offered on new residential investment.
On another front Tuesday, Council President Dave McMaster followed up on a resident’s concern voiced some weeks ago about the unsafe condition of East River Drive along the Maumee River.
An area of bank was cleared out there by volunteers to provide a better view of the river, but resident Paula Bowman believes this stretch near the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers needs a guardrail.
Mayor Mike McCann said the issue has been addressed, with City Engineer Melinda Sprow and Defiance County Engineer Warren Schlatter teaming to bring a resolution.
City Administrator Jeff Leonard said the county will take care of installing a guardrail, a move that has prompted some opposition from some East High Street residents, according to McCann. However, he added that the city would be “negligent” if it did nothing.
“We can’t ignore the issue,” he said.
He noted that the guardrail’s estimated cost is $9,000.
In other business Tuesday, council:
• let lie an ordinance allowing the partial vacation of undeveloped Adams Street, between the Fales and Adams Addition. Per city requirements, the ordinance will receive three full readings before coming to a final vote.
• passed an ordinance allowing monthly transfers among various city funds for the first nine months of 2021. This concerns $528,345 each month with the largest amount being a monthly transfer of $333,333 from the general fund to the city’s police and fire fund.
• discussed email options for residents wishing to comment on council meetings as they are being live-streamed on YouTube.