The mood at Tuesday’s City Council meeting was a positive one, as the City presented awards to Volunteer of the Year, Joanne Migliozzi, and Distinguished Citizen of the Year, Gloria George.
Gloria George has also been a pivotal asset to the community, supporting all sports events that are held within the city. For the past 13 years alone, she has been an icon of the ‘welcoming’ crew for the Long Drive competition. She has also been active with the Rotary, Arts Community and Veterans events. The shock of the award left her speechless, but after the meeting, George said that she was very thankful to everyone for the honor. “She is such a sweet lady,” Mayor Al Litman told the MLN. “I wish there were more people like her in the world.”
Next on the agenda, the council was to appoint five members of the community to serve on the Economic Development Incentives Ad-Hoc Committee. Councilman Kraig Hafen requested that this item be pulled from the consent agenda and moved to the regular agenda for discussion.
The committee was requested during a regular City Council meeting on June 24, 2014. Its purpose will be to find incentives that will compliment the desired business growth for Mesquite and to work with current federal, state and regional incentives or programs, but focus more on what the council has jurisdiction and control over. As of now, current incentives offered to perspective businesses include expedited permitting, one-on-one assistance and introductions.
“I recommend we have all eight serve on the committee,” Hafen said. “If they took the time to apply, then that’s three more individuals involved.”
The eight citizens that applied and were approved to serve on the committee are, in alphabetical order, Karen Beardsley, Debra Beatty, Scott Halvorson, Ted Miller, Gaye Stockman, Burton Weast, John Williams and Dan Wright.
Councilman George Rapson stated that “every one of these meetings (for this committee) will be publicly noticed and every single citizen will be able to speak to the issues involved and make comments at any time.” Rapson also noted that the bigger the committee, the more dysfunctional it may be.
Hafen went on to motion for the approval of all eight applicants, Councilwoman Cindi Delaney seconded, and a unanimous vote passed Resolution 844. All agendas, minutes and committee-related information will be able to be accessed online at http://www.mesquitenv.gov/city-government/committees/mesquite-economic-development-ad-hoc-committee as well as notices within the MLN. The committee is, according to the agenda coversheet, charged with completing their work by June 1, 2015, before the adoption of the City’s budget for FY2015-2016.
The next contentious item on the agenda was for the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the Firefighter and Captain Teamsters Local Union No. 14 and the City of Mesquite.
The agreement provides the city with some savings, including a portion of health care costs for new-hires, who will now pay $200 per month towards their health insurance. The entry level salary for firefighters and paramedics was also reduced by $3,027. Employees will also no longer be receiving their birthday as a paid holiday.
Other changes also included a longevity pay reduction. Employees serving for 5-9 years will now get $100 instead of $125; 10-19 years will receive $125 instead of $150; and employees who have been with the department for 20 years or more will now receive $150 instead of $200. The agreement also implemented step-pay increases which will impose a higher cost to the city, although that cost will be slightly offset by the Union concessions mentioned above. The agreement passed with Rapson initiated the motion and Delaney seconding.
This agreement covered the entire department except for the Fire Chief, Kash Christopher, and Deputy Fire Chief, Rick Resnick. Theirs was separated into a separate item, as they, and all management positions throughout the City of Mesquite, are not members of the Union.
The proposed Fire Management Employment Agreement for Christopher and Resnick also imposed a seven year step-pay system and would have had a fiscal impact of $44,363 according to the agendized memo. Christopher would not have received an increase with the passing of this agreement, as he has been with the City for a little over seven months. Resnick sought to receive a 7% increase backdating to July 2014.
“We have somebody who probably is deserving as all of our managers are at this point. But this one doesn’t meet the critical need like the other one did (Police Department) in my opinion,” said Rapson. “I would like to put this in with all of the other management contracts or discussions because we have budgets coming up. We need to figure out what we can pay before we start paying them… I want to go back to a comprehensive program/review.”
Councilman Rich Green chimed in with similar sentiments. “I am behind them (Christopher and Resnick) all the way but I have a big problem with going to a step-program for the management people.”
Councilwoman Delaney spoke and agreed with Green. “We have some great managers in this City and we just had a comparability study done, and they’re all coming in on the low end of the stick, folks… We need to have this rolled in with a management agreement. It’s about merit.”
Delaney did note that this was pretty much the same agreement that was passed last month for the Police Department with the step-pay system.
Rapson motioned to not approve the Fire Management Employment Agreement with Delaney seconding. There was a unanimous vote rejecting Christopher and Resnick’s agreement.
Christopher spoke with the MLN Wednesday morning and stated that he respects the council and their decision. “I do respect them, but I need to take care of my Deputy Chief,” he said. “I don’t do this job for the money. I do it to ensure that the 18,000 residents of Mesquite are given the best fire and EMS services available.”
Christopher noted that there will be talks for a resolution with the Council in the near future.
His comment regarding Resnick pertained to the several “hats” that Resnick wears on any given day. In addition to being the Deputy Chief, Resnick is also the full-time EMS Coordinator, Assistant Emergency Manager and a certified Fire Investigator, which requires both Law Enforcement Certification as well as National Arson Investigation Certification. Rolling all of these titles and duties into one position has saved the City approximately $1.1 million dollars since 2010. Resnick also runs on all types of calls due to his capabilities, some of them during his off duty when staff is short.
With the audience in silence, council moved on to the final item of the night, regarding the comments needed to send to the Bureau of Land Management and their Management Plan Revision. Several community members spoke prior to a presentation from Richard Secrist and Aaron Baker, who gave an overview of several options that have been given by the BLM. Ultimately, Council will open a public hearing for everyone to present their comments and a more in depth presentation on Tuesday, March 3 at 2 p.m. after the regular Council Technical Review. The hearing will be in the City Council Chambers in City Hall, 10 E Mesquite Boulevard, and staff will present more details on which Plan Revision would work best for the City moving forward.
Initially, the BLM were to make the presentation, but were uninvited to do so by City Staff due to several ‘security’ concerns voiced by other staff members. City Manager Andy Barton noted that it was in the City’s best interest not to invite them.