N.B. council split on hiring street department worker
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Friday, 18 January 2013 10:43
NORTH BALTIMORE - The mayor on Tuesday had to break a tie vote on filling a position in the street department.
Councilwoman Leslee Thompson, chairperson of council's Public Works Committee, reluctantly recommended the hiring of a full-time employee for the street department, then voted "no" on the motion.
She was joined by Councilmen Bill Cameron and Jeff Bretz in voting against the hiring.
Supporting the motion were Councilmen Aaron Patterson and Greg Wahland, and Councilwoman Janet Goldner.
Mayor Mike Julien cast the deciding vote, stating "I think it's warranted."
The village will advertise the position, and hopes to have it filled by the end of March.
The new hire will bring the staff within the street department back to four; it has been operating with three employees since 2004.
With the additional work load in the department, staffing levels have not kept up with demand, explained Julien.
Doug Wickard, Public Works superintendent in charge of streets, wrote in a letter to council that it has been difficult finding and keeping seasonal help for parks maintenance, paving, construction and renovating projects.
He added that he would like to mentor employees to take over when he is ready to retire. To do that, he would like to work one-on-one with the current two employees, but leaving one to work alone creates a safety issue.
"In order to be able to prevent accidents and work faster, not harder, we need to have two guys working together," he wrote.
He suggested council hire a full-time employee at least for two years in order to get through Phase 2 of the sewer separation project.
A full-time employee would earn $12.50 per hour, or about $26,000 a year, not including benefits.
"I'm just not thoroughly convinced it's needed," said Thompson Thursday morning.
There are concerns about whether the department has the proper equipment, specifically for mowing, to allow this person to do the job, she stated.
The village has bid out cemetery mowing the last couple years, and has had seasonal help mow village land and the parks, she explained.
The village has budgeted for the new hire, but Thompson was unsure whether there was money available to purchase equipment, if necessary.
She said she had asked for a list of street department equipment, especially for mowing, but had not received it.
Council also heard an update from Boy Scout A.J. Hotelling on his plans to build a welcome sign at the Ohio 18 roundabout. Hotelling, of Troop 315, is doing it as his Eagle Scout project.
He is still working on the scale of the sign, and isn't sure yet how many people he will need to help.
Cameron offered to act as a liaison for council, and suggested help also be requested from the Chamber of Commerce and the Garden Club.
Julien reported a meeting he and Healy had with ODOT representative Mike Stormer.
"They're not going to do anything at the roundabout," he told council.
Village leaders have been frustrated with ODOT for the 50 mph signs approaching the roundabout, stating that speed was hazardous.
ODOT has indicated as people become more used to the new intersection, there will be less of a problem, Julien shared.
The department will also help the village draft letters to send to all residents about how to traverse the roundabout.
"What about out-of-towners?" asked Bretz.
Julien also reported that the village will audit all of its stop signs and speed limit signs to make sure they're all being used correctly.
The mayor also gave a short State of the Village address, indicating that many large projects were completed in 2012, including Phase 1 of the sewer separation project, the opening of the new middle school/high school, and the opening of bids for Phase 2 of the sewer project. There have been updates to the village park, to New Maplewood Cemetery, plus the addition of two Habitat for Humanity homes.
A School Resource Officer and new village treasurer have been hired, he continued, the former middle school/high school has been demolished, the village levy for a new fire truck passed, and the roundabout on Ohio 18 has been completed.