Reynoldsburg City Council voted Monday to again allow a beer garden at this summer's Tomato Festival, but the decision is not sitting well with one member.
Cornelius McGrady III cast the lone dissenting vote April 22 to waive a provision in the city code that prohibits alcohol in any of the city's parks.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Brown asked for the resolution, which allows alcohol to be sold and consumed in Huber Park -- only during the Tomato Festival Aug. 16 and 17 and only in the designated beer garden.
McGrady said approving alcohol use in any city park, at any time, is a mistake.
"When you approve alcohol in public for any reason, you send a message of acceptability to our youth," he said.
"That is not the right thing to do. It should not be something that our young people see as acceptable at a city festival."
Last year was the first year a beer garden was set up as part of the annual Tomato Festival.
Brown said parks and recreation department personnel would work closely with the Reynoldsburg Division of police to refine the training requirements for those who will serve the beer and to assure security in the beer garden meets the highest standards.
Back pay approved
Council also agreed Monday to approve an ordinance authorizing a 2-percent raise and retroactive pay for a dozen city employees formerly represented by the United Steel Workers of America.
The 2-percent raise is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011, and, according to the city auditor's report, will cost Reynoldsburg $21,838.98.
Councilman Barth Cotner said approving the raise is "the right thing to do," since those employees did not receive the pay increases other city employees received in past years, because they were union employees and the city and union could not reach agreement on a contract.
The city had been involved in a dispute with the USWA since 2009, when 17 city employees voted to remain in the union, then complained the city was treating them unfairly by not offering the same pay increase offered to other city employees.
The union employees brought their concerns to the State Employee Relations Board, with both sides filing accusations and appeals. The dispute ended finally when USWA filed a notice with SERB in March that the union no longer represents the employees.
Councilman Scott Barrett voted against the ordinance. He said although he agreed approving the raise is "the right thing to do," he was hoping to have more discussion and possibly revise the ordinance revision, since one former employee who has since retired thought it was unfair he was not included in the retroactive pay.
"We had talked about the issue and had some debate over it, but it did not sit well with me that the former employee, Randy Wilson, was not included in some way," Barrett said. "We did the right thing, but it just didn't feel right not to include that employee."
Wilson, a Pataskala resident, asked council members April 2 to consider putting him on the list for retroactive pay. He retired in December 2012, but since the salary increase was retroactive to January 2011, that means he was a Reynoldsburg employee during the same two years for which current employees will receive retroactive pay.
Auditor Richard Harris said the city traditionally has offered retroactive pay only to current employees -- not those who have retired.