The City of Steubenville is facing a deficit of more than $200,000 and is looking to save some money by cutting the salaries and benefits of city employees.
City Council and City Manager Cathy Davison have decided to hold a town hall meeting within the next month. City officials have begun preparing to go public with their request for healthcare concessions from the three city employee unions.
"There's a lot of he said, she said about what Council, City Manager and City Administration is looking for as far as getting the budget under control. So if we get a town hall meeting together and we bring all three of the unions and the public in, then we can answer all the questions at one time and everyone hears the question at one time so they get the correct answer that they're looking for, at least the right answer that they're looking for," says Councilman at Large Kenneth Davis.
Officials say the focus will be health care which is where the city will get the most savings without having to cut personnel. Representatives from Health America will be at the meeting showing employees affordable health care options.
However, some union members feel that the meeting is being opened to the public in order to put pressure on them to make a decision.
"We welcome a town hall meeting. Apparently it's for the citizens to put pressure on us to take concessions. We understand that across the nation that there is a very bad situation with health care. Like I said, we've gone to the table several times. We are willing to negotiate. We have no problem with listening to their options," says FOP Lodge #1 President James Marquis.
But most Council members, including Davis, believe the public has a right to know what is going during the behind closed doors meeting with the city employee unions.
"People pay taxes, so they are supposed to and they should be informed for where their tax dollar goes. Some of the union guys are against this to be quite honest with you because they don't want their business to be in public. But the public pays for your business," says Davis.
City employees salaries and benefits make up the majority of the city's budget so looking into how the city can cut employee expenses has become one of the only options. That upsets employees especially police officers because of all the violence that's happened.
"We feel that it is unfair. The drug problem in the city of Steubenville is at epic proportions. Once a week our officers are encountered with assault type rifles. There's shots fired every night," says Marquis.
Davis sad they would like all three unions to understand they are being up front with them to clear up any rumors and answer any questions.
The town hall meeting will be held at Eastern Gateway Community College.