2012-04-21 / Editorials & Letters

Council members can make a difference

Editor:

Buckeye Lake’s Finance Committee met April 16. Chair Kaye Hartman was concerned about spending water fund money for the proposed $45,000 water superintendent position. Instead, she suggested that the current part-time water tech position simply be changed to full-time and that some of the proposed duties for the superintendent be shared with a yet-tobe hired development director.

Hartman asked Mayor Baker about the status of the development position. He said he had someone in mind but they may not be able to work more than part-time and may not be in the office much because the job is one in which the individual would be “out shaking a lot of hands.”

Current water tech Toby Miller composed a DRAFT job description for the new position. He stated several times that he hasn’t proposed filling the new superintendent’s position himself. Miller said the proposed salary came from Ohio EPA’s Jose Quinones and that one of the required job qualifications would be a license.

Karen Cookston talked a lot about how the new water superintendent could spend his time “enhancing the water system by soliciting more customers.” Former Mayor Frank Foster commented that wasn’t appropriate to limit a salary in one department (water) just because the other departments (police & streets) don’t have the funding to afford higher salaries.

It was refreshing to see the committee chair allowing plenty of citizen comments and questions. I suggested that most positions requiring a license like an RN first require education and then a license before getting the reward of a higher salary. The Mayor admitted that was a good point. When I asked if anyone felt an obligation to advertise the position, Hartman said it was up to the mayor. When pressed, Baker said it was up to the council. After suggesting he was “passing the buck,” he said council could set the superintendent’s salary at a lower level until a license is obtained. Very good point, mayor!

It’s obvious that the mayor isn’t planning on advertising outside the village hall for either the development or the utilities position. He spoke of his long-held belief that promoting from within is preferable. Apparently, that’s okay even if a license is required. It seems he has already decided the job belongs to Toby Miller. So it’s up to council to cap the salary. Under the charter, the mayor has the authority to hire the individual but COUNCIL holds the purse and sets the salary.

Hopefully council members now know they have some control and obligation here. The mayor can only hire someone if the position is funded. That’s his limitation! If you think $45,000 is too much to pay someone without a license and very limited experience, it’s time to speak up and set a more appropriate salary. Residents expect you to serve us and the village as a whole, not just the mayor and council president.

The Finance Committee referred the water superintendent issue to the Personnel Committee (Chair Patrick Brighton) for review in committee on Thursday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. Public comments are welcome.

Peggy A. Wells
Buckeye Lake

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