County administrator Kalmar returning to park district


Retiring county Administrator Andrew Kalmar will be returning to public service at the Wood County Park District.

At last week’s meeting, held at Otsego Park, Director Chris Smalley made the announcement that Kalmar will become the assistant director.

“I’m pleased for this opportunity. I’m pleased to work with Chris Smalley and the rest of the team and to return to the place I started in Wood County,” Kalmar said in a follow-up interview.

Kalmar was previously the director of the park district, until he left to become county administrator in January 2000.

“He will oversee special projects, some of the departments and give us some of the public administration that we’ve been lacking, since that position hasn’t been filled for a couple months,” Smalley said. “He got his start in parks and now he’s coming back to parks. He was originally the special projects coordinator.”

Smalley explained that the assistant director position had been the special projects coordinator position.

“It will be very similar to what he’s done in the past.” Smalley said.

Kalmar’s annual salary will be $65,603 and he will start on July 5. His last day with Wood County is July 1.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners agreed on a park district employee raise, effective Aug. 1. It’s based on the recommendations from the Archer Company, of Dublin, that the board hired.

“We’ve got Arby’s and McDonald’s advertising $15 per hour and we’re advertising less than that,” Commissioner Denny Parish said. “I don’t think they should have to wait any longer.”

The raises are based on a salary survey of 16 comparable sized departments and performed by Archer, which was chosen to do the survey based on their previous use by the county.

Parish said that the increases recommended by Archer were about 5%.

“Twenty-four of the positions, out of 29, were 5%, one was 8%. Three that I talked about, the lowest paid, were 20%, because those salaries weren’t competitive. I think one was zero. That’s Andrew, the new assistant director, is going to make the minimum salary for an assistant director. That was part of the deal for him to come,” Parrish said.

Parish also made a motion to have a draft budget, including a 3% cost of living pay increase. The motion was approved unanimously.

“I think it’s really slammed park employees every time they go to the pump,” Parish said. “I just want to see what the numbers are.”

In other business, Smalley gave the board an update on the Rudolph Bike Park project during which he predicted a mid-August wrap-up.

The most recent delay to the project was due to a need for a variance on an easement, which the Liberty Township Trustees approved.

The 2023 Statutory Budget Draft was submitted to the board by Smalley, for a preliminary review.

“Next year’s budget …has increases of almost 60% for fuel costs, as well as increases for utilities. These are inflationary costs,” Smalley said.

He also said they will be “dipping their toes into” stewardship related to the ponds. He estimated six ponds which need to be inventoried for size and depth, for investing in fish stock and possible repairs for maintaining their program-friendly status.

Smalley kept the discussion light as he asked the board to take a deep dive into his extensive pond notes.

A memorandum of understanding was approved by the board to give Smalley the authority to sign an agreement with Ottawa County Park District involving a possible purchase of land which would complete a section of the North Coast Inland Trail, which is a bike trail section that would be completed from Genoa to Millbury.

It could potentially cost the park district $91,800, but that assumes no grant money would be involved. Park district officials are confident that grants would cover half of that. The complete project is $612,000 and spans 12 properties. Only two of those properties are in Wood County.

The board also approved a mileage reimbursement increase to reflect the IRS standard of 58 cents per mile.

Board member Kim Rose suggested that future meetings be held at the park district headquarters, because it could be streamed virtually from there and it could save on fuel costs.

Park district commissioner’s meetings are typically held at different parks, on a rotating basis, in order for attendees to see the facilities available across the county.

After some discussion, it was agreed that the location would be moved to the headquarters through the September meeting, with the understanding that the topic could be revisited then.

The Friends of the Wood County Parks will not be holding a June meeting.

The meeting ended with commissioners entering in executive session, to discuss employee compensation, without action to be taken after the meeting.

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