NEW FRANKLIN  To attract more part-time police officers and part-time firefighters/paramedics to the city forces, New Franklin City Council heard a first reading on two resolutions requesting pay increases for these positions.

Council took no action due to financial reasons and tabled the April 3 discussion. It will hear a second reading of the resolutions at the April 19 meeting.

New Franklin Fire Chief Steve Leslie made the request because he said prospects for the firefighter/paramedic jobs are turning down offers when he tell them the starting pay (probationary for one year) is $9.77 per hour. The department has not increased the hourly wage for part-time employee since 2009. He proposed to council that the the new rate for probationary should be $12.00 and that the overtime rate should be increased to $18.00. 

"Other neighboring communities have higher wages and they are choosing to work for those communities" Leslie said.

The starting hourly pay rate at Canal Fulton is $14.35; in Norton it is $17.34; in Chippewa is it $15.19; in Coventry Township it is $19.37; and in Clinton it is $13.86. 

Leslie explained that part-time firefighters in the state of Ohio can work for multiple departments. So, they can be called out to the scene for whatever community they are employed by.

"The New Franklin part-time firefighter/paramedics work an average on 1,200 hours per month (this includes our part-time staffing at the joint station)," Leslie said.

Councilwoman Judy Jones asked if there were funds available for the pay increase and Leslie responded that he expects the increase to equal about $16,000 annually and he confirmed it is in the fire department budget. 

"We currently have 13 part-time members, and I'm hoping to hire another two or three before summer," Leslie said.

New Franklin Police Chief Dan Davidson made his request and the first reading to increase the part-time police officer rate (probationary status) from $8.10 to $12.00 per hour was hear. He noted also that part-time police officers' hourly rate has not been increased since 2009.

He also wanted his officers hourly wage to be in line with other communities to be competitive. He reported that the starting wage for a part-time police officer in Norton is $15.72; in canal Fulton it is $14.41; and in Springfield it is $13.00. He estimated the part-time offer would be three, 32-hours shifts.

Davidson explained that part-time police officers can only be employed by one city, township or village. Dual employment is not allowed due to jurisdiction. He said once an officer is off probation, he proposes the hourly pay rate be increased to $15 per hour and patrols in his own car.

However, city Treasurer Susan Cooke cautioned against granting the part-time police officer hourly wage because funds in the police department budget are very low.

"It is not a good timetime to raise rates, it is due to cash flow," she said. "We have a purchase order for the purchase of two new police SUV vehicles and we can't even pick them up."

In the financial report from the March 15 meeting, the ending balance in the police fund was $3,086.21. Cooke explained that she is waiting for funds from the additional 1 percent city income tax, passed last August, but they have not totaled what she needed in March.

Davidson did not confirm if the requested overtime wage increase is a budgeted item, and said he is willing to wait for council to pass the resolution.