By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Wood County Park District employees have been granted cost of living pay increases of 2.5 percent, retroactive to the beginning of this year.
The pay raises cover the district’s 27 full-time and four permanent part-time staff members, according to Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger.
Munger said the park district did not give cost of living raises at the end of 2016, when the Wood County Commissioners granted 3 percent raises to other county employees. The park board members said at that time they would reconsider and discuss the raises at a later date.
In September of 2016, the park board did approve pay raises recommended by an outside consultant which performed a compensation study. The raises were granted to 20 park employees in three phases starting in September and completed in April.
Munger saw his salary go from $71,697 to $86,587. The assistant director’s salary increased from $55,224 to $67,572; the operations manager’s went from $49,982 to $59,167; the field operations manager’s changed from $49,982 to $60,714; and the chief ranger pay increased from $48,360 to $55,300. Most of the other raises ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 annually.
In April, other hourly raises were granted to get park employees up to minimum standards. Those raises affected 12 workers, with hourly raises ranging from 16 cents to $1.46.
The park district is still trying to recover after exorbitant raises were recommended by the board in 2010 based on a consultant study. After an outpouring of criticism, those raises were rejected. That resulted in delayed pay raises and a new salary study conducted by the same consultant used by the county commissioners.
Also at last week’s meeting, the park district board talked about the need to replace the restrooms at Harrison Park, on the edge of Pemberville. The current restrooms are too small to be ADA compliant, Munger reported.
“We’ve had a lot of complaints over the years about wheelchair access,” he said.
Park district officials are discussing standardizing all restrooms in the county parks, he added.
The cost to build new restrooms at Harrison Park is estimated at $187,370.
“There’s plenty of money in the budget to do this,” Munger said, pointing out that other projects this year have come in under estimates, and that the shelter houses at Harrison Park are all ADA compliant, and the restrooms should be as well.
The Harrison restrooms are the oldest in the park district, he said, with the building being about 50 years old. He suggested that portable restrooms be brought in after the business rental season, while construction of the new restrooms takes place.
The board agreed to go out for bids on the restrooms.
In other business, the park district board accepted the lowest of three bids received for a new roof on the stone hall at Otsego Park. Overhead Roofing and Sheet Metal submitted a bid of $56,000 – far lower than the district’s estimate of $72,000.
“We were very happy with that,” Munger said.
The roof work should be done in a matter of days, and should result in lower electric bills at the site.
An update was presented on the archery range being built on Linwood Road behind the county historical center. The area for the archers to stand is framed in and the metal roof is expected to be done soon.
The archery range should be completed late next spring or early next summer.
The board also discussed a playground addition at Cedar Creeks Park. Estimates have not yet been submitted for that project.
Also at the meeting, Jamie Sands reported that the park district’s strategic planning process was in its first phase, with surveys about the parks being completed by district employees and Friends of the Parks members.
The board will be asked next to complete the survey questions, followed then by key decision makers in the community.
In other business:
- Sands reported that attendance at the park district’s tent at the Wood County Fair was up by 82 percent this year.
- The board heard concerns by park district employees that the headquarters on Mercer Road is less than appealing to work in at times, with unpleasant smells, mice and sinks backing up. Munger said a lot of the problems come from the headquarters being in a building not originally built for offices, out in the country.
- A Friends of the Parks representative reported the commemorative brick walkway at W.W. Knight Preserve will be dedicated this fall.
- The board went into an executive session to discuss personnel and possible legal action. No action was taken after the session.