New Albany News

Plain Township

Trustees still thinking over pension-payment increase


The Plain Township trustees decided last week to take more time to determine if they should increase the amount the township pays into firefighters' pensions.

Citing the need for more information, they tabled two resolutions April 17 that would have authorized the increase.

Fiscal Officer Bud Zappitelli said last month a new state law will increase employee contributions to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund by 0.75 percent each year for the next three years.

The changes were approved in September as part of Ohio Senate Bill 343, according to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund website. Active firefighters' salary contribution rates will increase from 10 percent to 12.25 percent.

Zappitelli said in March the township pays $2.8 million in salaries for the fire department so the increase would cost $20,000 annually.

Trustee Dave Olmstead said in 1998, the township agreed to pay the firefighters' state-mandated contribution to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund in lieu of a wage increase.

He said that was based on the firefighters' total compensation package. The township also pays the firefighters' contributions for health care and a percentage of their wages for Medicare and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

"Compared to other departments, we are in the middle or in the lower half related to overall compensation," Olmstead said.

Fire Chief John Hoovler said he recommended the township decrease the firefighters' wages by the same percentage as the pension fund increase to balance what the township pays for firefighters annually.

Hoovler said the firefighters he has talked to agree with the proposal but he said trustees want to make sure all firefighters have given their opinion before making any changes.

"The trustees want to be fair to the employees and want to be sure it's something they can live with," Hoovler said.

Plain Township firefighters are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3850 but the township does not recognize the union.

Assistant Fire Chief Jack Rupp told the trustees in March the pension-payment increase was included in the fire department's 2013 budget.