August 21, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Council puts off new position for Water Works employee

ELYRIA — City Council is holding off on creating a new position in the Water Pumping Department that the mayor proposes to fill with a current employee.

On Tuesday night, Council did a first reading of the legislation so members, many of whom have said still have questions, could have more time to consider the creation of the new job.

The matter will be picked up at the Aug. 1 meeting at which Council members could vote on the legislation or give it a second reading and decide in September.

The new job would be that of associate superintendent of the Elyria Water Works plant and has a starting salary of more than $61,000. Mayor Bill Grace said the job would go to current assistant superintendent Sam W. Jacob, the son of plant superintendent Sam F. Jacob.

The younger Jacob could soon obtain his Class 4 water plant operator certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Grace said he believes more compensation and a change of title is in order. The proposed raise would increase his base salary more than $8,000.

The higher classification will make him a sought-after employee who could be lured away to another city because he will be considered underpaid for his credentials, he said.

“We need to create an infrastructure where we can develop staff within the plant that seeks to achieve the Class 4 classification because there is an incentive to do so,” Safety Service Director Chris Eichenlaub said.

However, Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, said unless the job description for associate superintendent specifically requires a Class 4 classification, the message and incentive will not be there.

Mike Settles, spokesman from the Ohio Environment Protection Agency, said the younger Jacob received his Class 3 certificate on Nov. 17, 2009.

In order to be eligible to take the Class 4 exam, one needs at least three years’ experience as a Class 3 operator, including two years managing at a Class 3 or Class 4 facility.

However, Settles said Jacob may have accumulated some overtime that could reduce the three-year time frame, so it would be difficult to say when he would be eligible to take the Class 4 exam.

Councilman Larry Tanner, D-1st Ward, said he can’t understand why Council is being asked to decide a raise before Jacob obtains his Class 4 classification.

“I say he doesn’t get the pay until he gets the classification,” Tanner said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.