TOLEDO — In order to combat a disrupted labor market and stem the potential poaching of city employees by other cities, the Toledo City Council approved salary increases for several of the city’s non-represented staff effective June 1 during its regular meeting Wednesday.

Each position highlighted in yellow in Wednesday’s agenda will receive a salary increase of 3 percent or more. Some positions set to receive a raise include the city’s fire chief, police chief, police sergeant, library director, city recorder and head dispatcher.

The raise was approved alongside two other benefits to city employees, including a 1 percent salary increase for staff who have worked at the city for more than 10 years, and 10 days of holiday pay for the police sergeant to compensate for work on holidays.

Toledo City Manager Judy Richter said due to the pandemic, data from a pay equity study the city conducted a year ago that showed most employees were in the mid-range was now outdated. Cities, like many other employers, are having a tough time finding and retaining staff that can do the necessary work. The labor shortage has been driving up both the cost of wages and benefits and leading to competition between cities for employees, Richter added.

“We have had other cities come raiding our employees, and I think we have an excellent staff. I’d really like to keep all of them,” Richter said “When we are advertising for employees, we aren’t getting a lot of response, so it’s important we hang on to our people.”

One example Richter provided involved the potential loss of a staff member at the Toledo Police Department, who had considered employment with the city of Newport. 

According to Newport Police Department Chief of Police Jason Malloy, law enforcement officers everywhere are currently in short supply, but it all comes down to the officer whether or not to seek employment elsewhere, and all officers applying at Newport would be considered under the same criteria.

“Recruitment and retention of police officers right now is a struggle, and all of the agencies in the county are struggling to recruit and retain officers,” Malloy said. “Part of what’s making it difficult is all our agencies have different wages and different compensation or benefit packages to offer. We also struggle ourselves with losing officers to other agencies that go for more money, more opportunity or any number of things. It’s a cycle within law enforcement or any job market really.”

Mayor Rod Cross said he discussed the issue of staffing with Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer, implying the two cities had an unofficial agreement not to poach employees from one another.

“My counterpart in Newport and I had a very pointed discussion earlier this week about this,” Cross said. “I explained that in years past when I would have liked to go over and gotten some of theirs that, out of respect, I decided not to and would hope they would show us that same respect. We parted on good terms, so hopefully in the future this will stop.”

Sawyer told News-Times staff that he wouldn’t consider any hiring by the Newport Police Department as poaching and said any use of that term is likely only used in jest by anyone referencing Newport or Toledo.

With the changes effective June 1, the annual cost of living adjustment will be applied and brought back to the city council for approval on July 1. Richter noted the raises had not yet been accounted for in the budget.

According to information from the meeting’s agenda packet, workers in the bargaining units have their wages adjusted separately through collective bargaining, while non-represented workers are under the city’s Management Compensation Plan, which was effective in January 2012 and may not have been amended since other than to apply cost of living adjustments.

Other notable items from the Wednesday meeting:

• The council approved the annexation and rezone application from Kelly and Lorraine Foley for a property at 150 SE Sturdevant Road. The council held a public hearing, but no one came forward for comment. Mayor Rod Cross noted he visited the site several times and was friends with the owner, but stated there should be no conflict of interest.

• The council approved an ordinance changing the current standards for RV parking in the city. Changes include increasing how long visitors can stay on property in an RV, allowing the city to inspect RVs to ensure they meet fire safety standards and allowing RVs to be parked on property a max of 18 months with council approval.

• The council approved the annual liquor license renewals for 13 businesses in the city.

• The council approved temporary use liquor licenses for the Toledo Summer Festival and Elks Lodge for events in July.

• The council approved the salary for a new community services officer and a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment per an agreement with the Toledo Public Safety Association for the city effective July 1.

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