Van Wert City Councilman Kirby Kelly sits with Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming and Mayor Don Farmer engage in discussions with aerial shots of the city displayed in the background at Monday's Council meeting. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Van Wert City Councilman Kirby Kelly sits with Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming and Mayor Don Farmer engage in discussions with aerial shots of the city displayed in the background at Monday's Council meeting. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
VAN WERT -- The Van Wert City Council Monday approved a new three-year contract with the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association
"This was a long process," remarked Van Wert Mayor Don Farmer. Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming, who handled the negotiations by the city, agreed.

The contract includes raises of three percent effective in 2015, two percent in 2016, and one percent in 2017. Farmer did point out that there was no raise in 2014, so counting the three years of the new contract along with the current year, "It's like a 1.5 percent raise for four years, so basically we came out about the same as the other years," he stated.

"Like every contract these days, we spent a lot of time talking about health insurance, but we got through it," said Fleming who noted that negotiations have been ongoing since June 1, 2014. Those negotiations were not always easy, explained Farmer, but he is pleased that a deal has been reached.
Earlier, Farmer noted that he has been negotiating to finish the certification of the 1,600-acre Van Wert Mega Site. He pointed out that the state is willing to accept a deal with the electrical hookup to delay installation of necessary power lines until an end user for the site has signed on. A similar deal for a natural gas line was also worked out with Dominion East Ohio, so that a line will not be installed until the end user gives its requirements. In this manner, certification can be completed sooner, and electric and gas needs can be met exactly for use by the end user. A meeting to sign papers is set for Thursday.

Councilman Stan Agler commented that a sales person wanting to change his electrical provider contacted him recently, asking for numbers from his bill to change billing companies. He stated that, as happened last year, many such calls are being made to people in this area, and not to give out any numbers from your bill unless you wish to change companies at that time. Farmer agreed that numbers from power bills should be kept private unless someone wants to change companies.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat reported that nothing was unexpected in the latest financial reports for the city. "This report shows the difference between actual revenues received and expenses made. We have spent $144,564 more than what we have taken in this year, but we anticipated spending more than what our current year revenues were when we did our tax budget last year," she said. "When I looked at that before tonight's meeting, our estimate was that we would spend more than $1 million more than what we had taken in for the year; we were going to use that much of our carryover. But we're more than halfway through the year and I've only gone over by less than $150,000 so that leads me to believe we're in pretty good shaped in regards to the comparison between revenues and expenses."

Council members also passed a pair of resolutions regarding health care benefits for city employees, including health savings accounts and employee contribution rates.