County Signs Year-Long Economic Development Contract

The Monroe County Commissioners met for their weekly meeting on Jan. 7 with a full agenda.

New business addressed by the commissioners outside of their appointments was the consideration of a new service agreement with Jason Hammon and Silverlode Consulting out of Cleveland. Hammon was signed to a one-month contract in December to act as the county’s economic developer. Considered was signing Hammon and Silverlode to a one-year contract.

Commissioners seemed satisfied with Hammon’s work during the short-term contract. “He’s done a lot,” said Commissioner Pyles. “Jason is involved in several things right now, and he’s done a good job for us,” added Commissioner Price. Price made a motion to sign the one-year contract, and the motion was carried. The terms of the contract will be the same as those in the short-term contract, which includes a fee of $3,600 a month for up to 24 hours of economic development services.

Highlighting the appointments of the day was a decision to change the standard road usage agreement the county requires oil and gas companies to sign before using county or township roads.

Laborer unions across the state have been lobbying counties to require that those repairing road damage from oil and gas activity be paid prevailing wage. According to the unions, this helps guarantee that local workers will be used and that the work done on the roads will be high quality.

To bring the lobbying efforts to Monroe County, Daniel Kurczi of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) met with commissioners on Monday. Kurczi said to commissioners, “Of all the work that is done in the oil and gas industry, this is the part you have control over.” 

Speaking of quality issues, Kurczi gave the example of Belmont County having problems with some roads not being fixed properly. Referencing the use of non-local workers, Kurczi said, “This industry is transient in nature. They bring a lot of their employees and contractors from their home states.” Kurczi also told commissioners that 11 surrounding counties have already made prevailing wage part of their road mainetence agreements.

After some discussion, commissioner John Pyles made the motion to implement prevailing wage on the county’s standard road mainetence agreement, pending Prosecutor James Peters’ approval. The motion passed unanimously. “I think it’s a win win,” Pyles said.  Prevailing wages will be met at the expense of oil companies, not at the expense of the county.

Also meeting with commissioners was Sheriff Charles Black to discuss a memorandum of understanding on the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police. A contract was signed last year between the county and the union with members taking a smaller percentage raise than usual. The memorandum of understanding presented to commissioners on Monday was a wage re-opener that addressed raises for the final two years of the contract.

The new proposal was for a 3.5% raise in each of the next two years, which would make the average yearly raise in the three year contract 3%. Referencing the possibilities if a deal was not met, commissioner Tim Price said of the proposal, “We’d much rather see the deputies get the money than a third-party negotiator.” A motion was passed to agree to the memorandum to the contract.

Rounding out the day’s appointments was Auditor Pandora Neuhart. Neuhart met with commissioners to request that the personal property fund be added back into her office’s budget. The commissioners had passed a motion in a recent meeting to do away with the fund. Neuhart said she uses part of the $4,858.12 fund and needs it to cover costs in her office. After some discussion, commissioners agreed that the Auditor’s office was in need of the fund and reinstated it.

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