Lorain council passed an ordinance allowing the addition of an assistant chief electrician position for the city, to keep the city’s current electrical inspector Richard Negron. The amended ordinance passed 9 to 1, with Council At-large member Joseph Koziura dissenting.
Previously a union position, the new assistant chief electrician inspector would allow Negron to continue his duties as the city’s electrical inspector, while moving into a managerial position.
His salary would increase by about $13,000 a year, which caused concern with some council members as it had not been budgeted for. Safety/Services Director Dan Given argued the increase in pay was still less than what Negron had been offered by North Ridgeville, but would keep the inspector in the international city so it didn’t have to try and hire a new one or contract the service out.
“In certain positions, especially in the (Building, Housing and Planning) department, we are underpaying people, we don’t want to be the training grounds for every other city,” Given said.
“We want qualified and exceptional staff and that’s why we’re asking for this position to be funded, which would move him into it, and then we wouldn’t fill the position that he’s currently in.”
As the council transitioned to a committee of the whole, audience members were allowed to weigh in on the issue — with those supporting the transition and pay raise to keep Negron.
“(I) think you get hung up over titles,” said Jerry Donovan, of Lorain.
“What is the function of an assistant chief, I believe it’s to replace a chief if he’s not there, otherwise he’s doing what he normally does. And what does he normally do, I think he helps carry out the inspections. … But the matter is the labor’s worth is higher and if you’re going to keep shopping the market to try and get yourselves new employees, that’s all you’ll ever going to be dealing with. … You need to start paying people what their worth is.”