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UPDATED: Ard evaluation delayed again

Andy Ouriel • Oct 23, 2013 at 7:33 AM

Sandusky city commissioners planned on completing a long-awaited performance review of city manager Nicole Ard on Monday.

But the evaluation faces another delay because Ard informed commissioners earlier this week she can’t attend Monday’s meeting because she’s scheduled to attend a government conference she previously registered for.

Ard sent city commissioners a text message to alert them of her absence. “We’ll just have to wait until she gets back to complete it,” said commissioner Keith Grohe, who’s captaining the evaluation process.

Commissioners originally estimated the evaluation process would take about 30 days when first announced in mid-July.

The delay in finishing an evaluation is frustrating to some, including commissioner Diedre Cole. “I just want to get this process over with,” Cole said. “It’s long overdue, and it’s taking an inordinate amount of time to do something that should have been done months ago.”

Ard, hired in October 2011, still hasn’t received a job evaluation since starting.

“It should have been done in January (2013),” commissioner Wes Poole said. “It’s my expectation that we will complete it as soon as possible.”

Watch Sandusky City Commission Diedre Cole on Between the Lines today

Evaluation time
Ard seemingly doesn’t want to receive an evaluation.

In March, she publicly disputed any notion that she’s required to receive an evaluation.

She indicated someone waived the review clause during an informal gathering weeks before commissioners hired her. There’s no record, however, that anyone waived the provision.

Two city contracts also clearly spell out an evaluation process; Ard’s employment contract and a contract with a firm hired by the city in 2011 to assist in finding a city manager.

A Register analysis published in January determined Ard — whose annual salary is about $126,000 — failed to complete or did not address 12 goals officials established for her in 2012.

Nicole Ard’s goals
A Register analysis published in January determined Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard did not fully accomplish 12 goals set for her in 2012. The story relied on city data and sources.

The goals:
1. Community engagement

2. Prioritize and track projects

3. Improve efficiency and effectiveness

4. Hire police chief, improve department operations

5. Approve balanced budget

6. Create downtown vision plan

7. Outline plan for selling water

8. Progress land rejuvenation

9. Cooperate with nearby governments

10. Develop and implement strategic plan

11. Negotiate three union contracts

12. Update policies and procedures

The story relied on city data and sources to conclude Ard, at the time, did not fully accomplish a single goal. Ard declined to provide any information while the article was being researched, and she has not refuted the information in it since it was published.

Despite her lack of progress, some commissioners fully support Ard.

Commissioners Cole and Poole both already submitted evaluations for Ard that are both critical of her job performance. They have also raised questions about Ard’s performance in public session. Cole said previously that the majority coalition on commission has “dumbed down” the review.

Meanwhile, commissioners Pervis Brown, Julie Farrar and Jeff Smith all have expressed strong support for Ard, as they feel others constantly “beat up” on her.

Grohe and ex officio mayor John Hamilton haven’t expressed a strong opinion either way.

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