2012-03-31 / News

New water position under fire

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Some residents are concerned that the village is not adequately advertising for a new utility superintendent position and that the position’s starting pay is too high.

The comments were prompted by an ordinance creating the position of utilities superintendent with a $45,000 a year salary. Buckeye Lake Village Council members heard the first reading of the ordinance Monday night. Mayor Rick Baker intends to move part-time water tech Toby Miller into the new full-time position.

Council member and Finance Committee chair Kaye Hartman said she believes the starting pay is too high for the position, although she said the rest of the committee members believed the pay is reasonable.

“There’s no competition for this position,” said Buckeye Lake Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marianne Perine. “This is not a low paying position.” She said teachers with degrees and certifications only begin around $30,000 per year. Perine said she believed the village should advertise for candidates.

“I have a problem with hiring any position at $45,000, especially when your fire and police are underpaid,” said resident Kitty Zwissler. She said the position would pay upward of $50,000 when considering benefits.

Former council member Peggy Wells said first that she objected to council’s strict adherence to limiting public comment to three minutes per person. “You have few meetings where people (with public comment) show up,” she said.

Wells said she believes the village’s water bills could be lower, “if you have money to throw around like that.” She said the village is “shortchanging” itself by not advertising for the position, although she was clear her comment was not a personal attack against Miller or anyone.

Wells also objected to the plan to create a full-time water department clerk’s position at $13.33 per hour when the street superintendent’s position only offers $13 per hour.

“I do feel that this is much too high for a starting pay; $45,000 is much, much too high to start,” said new council member Patrick Brighton.

Council member Arletta Ruton urged people to “check out the facts” before reaching any conclusions about the utility superintendent’s position or whomever may fill it. “It’s not taxpayers’ money,” she said. Ruton said other communities pay their utilities superintendents far more than what Buckeye Lake is offering for its position.

“Who’s money are you spending?” said resident Bonnie Mansfield.

Baker said some of the water bill revenue pays for the position.

“It comes from the taxpayers,” said Mansfield.

“I fully support Toby Miller in this position,” said council President Charlene Hayden. “He’s much further ahead than a new hire would be.”

“We need somebody full-time,” said Baker Tuesday. He said Miller has worked with the village’s water distribution system since it was installed and really knows it well. Baker said it’s really a lateral move for Miller from part-time to full-time. He said as soon as Miller receives certification to test the water, he can take over for Millersport Water Superintendent John Wood, who currently tests Buckeye Lake Village’s water, and save the village money.

Thurston Village Clerk Aaron Reedy said his village contracts with Pleasantville to service its public water distribution system.

Thurston contracts with the Village of Baltimore for bulk water similarly to Buckeye Lake’s contract with Millersport, which supplies Buckeye Lake’s distribution system with bulk water. However, Thurston’s distribution system services roughly 300 customers whereby Buckeye Lake’s services about 800.

Reedy said Thurston pays Pleasantville $1,000 per month to have someone test the water and service the distribution system on an as needed basis. Also, Pleasantville receives $30 per customer whose water service is terminated. He added that Thurston council members are considering creating a Thurston operated public water treatment facility and ending its reliance on Baltimore or any other source for bulk water.

In other village news:

• Hayden said the village’s annual spring clean-up is April 3 through 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. She said this is an opportunity for residents to dispose of items that are not appropriate for regular trash pick up. Large trash containers will be behind the village offices in the street department area. Items containing Freon will not be accepted. Tires can be disposed of for a fee.

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