NEWARK — Marcia Phelps, clerk of Licking County Municipal Court, proposed a compromise to the Newark City Council Personnel Committee on her requests for clerk’s office employees.
Phelps previously told council her employees deserve more than the annual 4% raises they received, but Mayor Jeff Hall said it would be difficult to find the money in the 2022 budget. The mayor said the additional salaries proposed for employees in the clerk’s office have been estimated to cost about $150,000 annually.
The clerk’s office employees are underpaid, Phelps said, and frequently leave for better-paying jobs, such as in other city departments or municipal courts in neighboring counties.
The legislation had proposed creation of a deputy clerk/information technology coordinator, as well as the salary increases.
Phelps proposed removing the deputy clerk/information technology coordinator from the request, saving the city $81,303 and reducing the total cost of her request to $70,889. She also proposed changing the title of the current information technology coordinator to information technology specialist.
“I have proposed, with some reluctance, in a motion of cooperation, to remove the deputy clerk/information technology coordinator,” Phelps told the committee. “I’ve stated in the past that position is needed. I’m not disputing the fact it’s needed, I’m just trying to bring some compromise, if you will, to members of council and the administration.”
The full council will consider an amended resolution at its Feb. 22 meeting. Council tabled the ordinance on Oct. 5, 2020, and on Jan. 18.
But, Phelps warned a request for the new position will come before council again. The additional position would give the office two information technology employees.
“There will be a time we’ll have to come back for that position because we will be in a position in the clerk’s office to change our case management system, a conversion, if you will,” Phelps said.
“In the absence of having a second person, then a consultant would probably have to be hired, and that’s probably much more expensive, and they really don’t have knowledge of our case management system. It takes somebody with experience because it’s a bit different, not just word documents.”
City Councilman Cheri Hottinger, R-at large, asked Phelps is the new employee would be needed after the conversion to a new case management system.
“Yes, it still would be needed, because right now we have one IT person for the entire judicial system,” Phelps said. “One IT person, as anybody would know, probably isn’t a good business practice, because when that person is missing, we are left with no one to support our case management system.
“He has to have time off and when that occurs, we bother him when he’s out of the office or we wait.”
The mayor previously said if one department’s employees get raises beyond the 4% that everybody received, “you’ll get a parade of people in here.”
Phelps has said she has the authority to give the additional salary increases to her employees, according to the Ohio Revised Code and a Fifth District Court of Appeals ruling, but she wants to work with the administration.
The proposed salary increases would affect the 14 deputy clerks, three senior deputy clerks, an office manager and information technology specialist.
Councilman Doug Marmie, chairman of council’s Finance Committee, said the city’s unappropriated balance is $540,418 and the budget stabilization fund has almost $1.38 million.