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Wastewater treatment operator hired

Salary to be paid based on flow rate

A permanent operator of record begins training at the Quincy-DeGraff Wastewater Treatment Plant today after a salary agreement was hammered out Tuesday during a joint meeting between the councils.

Members of the Quincy and DeGraff village councils, which comprise the joint sewer board that interviewed nine applicants for the position, recommended hiring Jeff Clevenger to oversee the treatment plant’s day-to-day operations.

Mr. Clevenger lives in Christiansburg. He worked for 30 years as the water superintendent for the city of New Carlisle and is currently a part-time water superintendent for the village of Mechanicsburg. He has a Class III operator’s license.

Quincy Mayor Dan Robinson said he expects Mr. Clevenger to resign from his current job today.

Mr. Clevenger will be paid $30,000 annually. His salary will be split between the villages based on the current flow rate into the plant, which will have DeGraff paying 67 percent and Quincy paying 33 percent of his salary.

Additionally, the respective councils voted to hire Tom Taylor to work 15 hours per week at a rate of $14 per hour. Mr. Taylor is currently working about 10 hours each week as a backup operator at a rate of $14 per hour.

Combined, the councils will pay about $40,000 per year to staff the wastewater treatment plant. DeGraff’s portion will come to approximately $27,400 and Quincy will be responsible for about $13,500.

Now that the councils have arranged to staff the plant full time, certain maintenance operations like chemical testing or even lawn care, which were previously contracted out, now can be taken care of in-house at a savings of thousands of dollars per month, council members said.

Mr. Clevenger was one of three finalists for the position. His relatively low salary requirements were what put him over the top, DeGraff Mayor Gary Comer said.

“All three of the guys (Mr. Robinson) and I interviewed are more than capable of running the plant, but this guy doesn’t need benefits as he’s already collecting (from the Public Employee Retirement System,)” Mr. Comer said.

“He’s basically just working so he can afford insurance for his wife.”

Both men were hired on a part-time basis so the villages could avoid having to offer any kind of benefits.

As far as Mr. Clevenger is concerned, were either village to offer insurance, he would stand to lose his insurance through PERS, DeGraff Fiscal Officer Linda Harford said.

Mrs. Harford and Quincy Fiscal Officer Sandra Ward are now scrambling to navigate red tape with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to avoid having to pay their interim operator any more than necessary.

For the last month, the joint sewer board has contracted with West Liberty Water Superintendent Brad Hudson to function as the plant’s legal operator of record. Terms of that agreement include $60 per hour for the 10 hours each week Mr. Hudson worked at the plant, and a flat $1,200 for each month he’s on file as the legal operator of record.

“Come Dec. 1, if we don’t have this worked out, we’re going to owe at least $1,200 whether Brad works five minutes or five hours,” Mrs. Ward said.

Members of both councils acknowledged the relative bargain they’re getting to staff the plant full time.

“Mayor Comer and I have seen what the top-end of the pay scale looks like for someone with a Class III license and you’re talking 50 or 60 thousand a year plus benefits,” Mr. Robinson said.

Ultimately, it was that savings that helped the councils reach an agreement on how to divvy up the operators’ salary.

“By doing this, we’ll save something like $50,000 per year even if we pay based on the flow rate,” Mrs. Harford said. “We have to look out for our people; that’s who we’re here representing.”

Mr. Clevenger and Mr. Taylor will receive a pay check from each village. Additional costs such as retirement contributions will be paid individually by the villages.

DeGraff councilman Lee Harbour voted no on the pay agreement, maintaining the salary should be split equally between the villages.

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