Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Lebanon rethinks pay for reservists

More money could be given

By Jill Hanning
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - City Council members are considering changing the policy on compensation for city employees who are called into active military duty.

Council might vote at tonight's meeting on amendments to an ordinance that could increase the provisional pay received by families of city employees who are military reservists who get activated.

"If our city is gong to be a leader in something, this is a neat thing to be a leader in," said Councilman Jim Norris. "There are plenty of us who wouldn't be willing to go serve, but thank God there are people who are."

Some other Tristate communities have also considered the issue. Last November, the Butler County commissioners removed a $500-per-month salary compensation limit for county employees serving active military duty. Hamilton City Council also plans to eliminate its compensation limit for city employees on active duty. Warren County and Dayton, Ohio, have policies of granting differential pay with no minimums.

Lebanon's policy now mirrors the minimum state requirement - city employee reservists who are called to active duty receive $500 a month or differential pay, whatever is less, beginning a month after they leave their city position. In addition, the city must retain their position for two years, City Attorney Mark Yurick said.

The proposed amendment would eliminate a minimum amount and result in reservists receiving 100 percent of differential pay, whatever that may be, for a year after they are called. They would receive 70 percent of differential pay during the second year.

A staff summary sheet prepared by City Manager Pat Clements explains:

"Our current policies outlining the pay and benefits provided to these employees is not adequate. In some cases, the $500 maximum payment will cause the reservists to experience a substantial loss of total pay while serving on active duty."

The ordinance applies only to full-time employees, and in Lebanon's case, there's only one person who fits that description. Shawn Coffey, the director of electric services, was recently called into duty.

"I don't believe in creating legislation to cover one person, especially when they knew coming in there was a chance they could be called," said Vice Mayor Jim Reinhard.

Under the proposed amendments, Coffey's family would be entitled to the difference between his city salary and his military salary, a difference Clements estimated to be around $30,000.

Steve Kemme contributed to this report.

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