ST. PARIS – Village council took action to hire the village’s next police chief during a Feb. 2 special meeting.
Council approved a resolution to appoint Kristopher W. Cosme as police chief, filling a vacancy left by the retirement of Chief Jim Pence last July.
During the special meeting, council also approved a resolution to appoint Timothy J. Taulbee as a full-time police officer for the St. Paris Police Department and accepted a resignation letter from Sgt. Zach Wilkson.
Both Cosme and Taulbee were sworn in to their respective positions at the start of Monday’s regular meeting.
After council agreed to hire Dee Meadows as the next fiscal officer during the Jan. 24 meeting, council approved a resolution Monday to authorize her appointment as the village’s permanent fiscal officer.
The resolution states the fiscal officer position will be a salaried position starting at $673.08 per week, which equals $35,000 per year with full benefits and a minimum of and a maximum of 40 hours a week to include council, special and work session meetings.
The resolution adds pay raises may be granted with prior council approval.
Council also approved a contract with former fiscal officer Richard Ford to serve as the fiscal officer training consultant.
The contract states starting Feb. 1 Ford, who resigned from the fiscal officer position at the end of last month, will maintain the fiscal responsibilities of the village until such time as Meadows is trained and can take the responsibility over with the approval of Mayor Joe Reneer and Village Administrator Joe Sampson.
Ford will be paid $25 per hour.
Council rejects multiple pay raises
Resolutions that would have authorized pay raises for four village employees were rejected by council.
Prior to council’s vote, Reneer explained the resolutions were for pay raises for employees not in the general fund.
“These are water and sewer, these are streets,” Reneer said. “These funds were operating just fine. The removal of the tax credit was not for those funds and there was money in those funds for these employees. The reason I’m saying that is also as a lot of people know just because the street (fund) has the money for that doesn’t mean I can use that money to fund the police department – the removal of the tax credit was for the police department.”
Reneer added the respective funds are doing well, but the employees did not receive a raise last year.
The resolutions proposed to give pay raises for office assistant Suzanne Oberly, streets, parks and land superintendent Diana Wallen, streets, parks and land employee James Copes, and water and sewer department employee Ben Shuman.
Multiple council members expressed concern over the perception of the village giving pay raises after recently removing the village’s income tax credit to fund the police department.
Sampson defended the work of the village employees and said they have nothing to do with the tax credit being rescinded.
“These people bust their rear ends hard every single day,” Sampson said. “They don’t ask for anything, they come in they do their job, they do it well and they go way beyond anything that I’ve ever asked them to do. They didn’t get anything last year, I feel like a couple of them – if not all of them – are underpaid anyway.
“We always kept at least three people down at the water and sewer plant and we haven’t done that for several years. We’ve only had one so all of these (employees) have picked all the slack up for the four and what used to be five employees and they’re still making same that they did. I just wanna fight for these four people that bust themselves everyday and come in here to make this town a better place.”
As each of the four resolutions were put to a vote they were rejected 4-2 with council members Jana Crawford and Lynn Miller voting for the pay raises and council members Niven Jester, Tyler Adkins, Terry Ervin II and Dave Palmer voting against the raises.
Following the vote, Reneer said he was slightly disappointed.
“These employees don’t have anything to do with the fiasco or the situation with the police department,” Reneer said. “So to judge them on what happened in a different fund in the police department disappoints me.”
Council tables action on archery tournament
During the mayor’s note portion of the meeting, Reneer read a letter from Timothy Weinert, President of the Pony Wagon Days Committee.
The letter stated the committee is working to provide an archery tournament on April 15. One of the benefits of holding the tournament the letter states is to assist with operating costs of the Pony Wagon Days festival.
The committee asked for permission to use the old junior high site and to use the practice field as parking.
After discussing the tournament, council agreed to table taking any action as they sought more details about the tournament.
In other action:
•Council approved an agreement with the village of Christiansburg. Christiansburg will pay St. Paris $15 per month for police phone service. The agreement is in effect through Dec. 31.
•The American Legion St. Paris, Post 148 will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the municipal building.
•Reneer read a letter from Dean Nitchman stating he would like to create a fund at the First Central National Bank for Christmas decorations. Council approved a motion to hang the decorations if they are purchased.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.