April 24, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Council still discussing tax abatement

SHEFFIELD – Firefighters aren’t getting reimbursed for the holiday pay they gave up at the beginning of the year – yet.

Sheffield Village Council split the vote 3-3 Monday night and Mayor John Hunter cast the deciding “no” vote to defeat a proposed ordinance that would have repaid firefighters holiday time they sacrificed to avoid layoffs.

Council members Ronald Forster, Kevin Watkinson and Edward Dugan voted in favor of the ordinance, while members Carolyn White, Jean Ackerman and Leo Sheets voted against.

All council members agreed the firefighters should get reimbursed because the income tax levy passed in May – they just disagree about the timing.

Mayor Hunter recommended waiting until more of the income tax money comes in and the village’s finances through the end of the year are secure before reimbursing firefighters.

“I am not against the firefighters getting their holiday pay,” Hunter said. “My problem is making sure we have money to pay it at this time and I don’t know that’s so.”

Dugan disagreed.

“I just think they deserve it,” Dugan said after the meeting.

“They took a stand when the village was having financial problems and I think they deserve to have their holiday time back. It’s always a decision of priorities. Everyone else is getting their holiday pay.”

Hunter said he didn’t want the village to make those payments to firefighters, have revenues drop and end up laying someone off at the end of the year.

White said the practical decision was to wait.

“It was gracious of them to give it up to keep everybody working,” she said. “We don’t want to deny anyone anything.

“Emotionally I wanted to give it back now, but the practical side of me believes we need to make sure we meet the obligations of the village.”

Firefighters union President Pete Rudkin said he had no comment on Council’s decision.

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7144 or acastelli@chroniclet.com.