Commissioners differ over hiring

Brady supported hiring additional engineering worker, Poole opposed.
Andy Ouriel
Feb 2, 2014
A minor squabble between two Sandusky city commissioners underscored a larger problem with the city government.

Commissioners Dick Brady and Wes Poole recently engaged in a brief disagreement during a public meeting about whether or not to provide the engineering department with an additional employee.

Brady supported hiring another worker with an engineering degree to help oversee several ongoing or forthcoming projects.

Right now, there are only two people — an engineer who oversees the department, and a project engineer — working for Sandusky with such credentials.

Dating back to 2013, city engineers either completed or scheduled upwards of $20 million in projects, including street repairs, building demolitions and infrastructure improvements. This amount includes local, state and federal monetary contributions.

Brady argued Sandusky engineer Aaron Klein could use some extra help, since he’s responsible for roads, water, sewer, transit and several other operations and services.

Brady’s fearful a staffing shortage could lead to an oversight or miscalculation of some sort, resulting in city taxpayers covering a large expense to fix a deficiency after a project is completed.

“We need an assistant engineer in this department” Brady said. “Infrastructure in this community is so critically important and can pull us out of this deep hole we’re in”

Poole, however, opted against providing immediate help for engineering at this point.

“I recognize there is perhaps a need for additional assistance, but at this point, we have an entire city of departments with needs,” Poole said, referencing glaring holes in the police and fire departments, among other areas. “I’m not sure it’s in the best interest to cherry pick this need now”

Poole urged commissioners to devise an organizational chart, outlining each city employee’s position and role, before directing additional manpower to a specific area.

Brady seemed to agree.

Ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. directed city manager Nicole Ard to develop such a blueprint.

Each commissioner agreed on this: The city can’t continue performing at near-ideal levels of service when staffing numbers constantly dwindle.

The city’s work force has steadily decreased during the past decade, dropping 25 percent from 280 employed in 2004 to 209 in December.

Furthermore, a $1.1 million budget shortfall threatens to further reduce city operations this year. City commissioners are likely to lay off at least four full-time firefighters in 2014 to help offset the red ink.

It’s unknown if city commissioners could fund the assistant engineering position when they’re cutting other workers.

Sandusky previously employed a deputy engineer, who earned about $82,000 a year, but commissioners eliminated the position about three years ago.

Officials are also researching whether or not an engineering employee could be funded through a city water account, hovering between $6 million to $7 million a year.

Fees generated from the city’s water customers fuel this account. Several employees receive a portion of their salaries through this fund, which is separate from the city’s $16.3 million everyday operating budget. The operating budget has a $1.1 million shortfall.

Comments

slightthroat212

why haven't the city commissioners considered eliminating those people in the government who are "double dipping" in all position right now? If they eliminated employees who do that, they could hire or replace them with people earning less pay. That would significantly decrease the payroll in Sandusky right away. There are several people who are now receiving pensions and still working at high rates of pay.

They should also consider repealling the raise of Ms Ard until she proves herself worthy of that raise she got. That would also decrease the shortfall. Contract or not, that needs to go.

Then they can consolidate some of the fire houses in this city to keep the fireman and elimate the costs of running each firehouse. Perhaps keeping firemen would be better than keeping a firehouse. Or reevaluate how they dispatch firemen and equipment to a fire. No one has ever explained why central dispatches all the way out to Venice Hts when there is a firehouse out that way. That makes no sense to me at all, yet that is how it is done.

As for the police department and the city hall. I think they need a new one. Its better to build new now than pour money into a dry hole. Fixing that building they are in is a waste of money. Take a building like the old seventh grade building and revamp it. That makes more sense than pouring millions into the disaterous thing they have now.

Try selling the City of Sandusky as a place for businesses. My brother has been saying this for 17 years now and no one listens to him. He is right. He also has great ideas about downtown Sandusky and no one listened: Not Poole, nor three other Council people he spoke with. Of Course, Ms Ard never showed up.

Its sad that people try and try to help but the people in power just don't listen. They have their own fish to fry and their own special interests to care about. They don't want to help. They just want to do their thing and move on. What a shame. Then this poor engineer is trying to work alone or with one other person., I wish him good luck. Try and internship program from BGSU or TC.....they would send people for FREE. My BIL suggested that two years ago.

DEATHnTAXES

Now that makes sense. Spend mega bucks on revamping the larger Adams Junior High building?

slightthroat212

Out of all of that, the only thing you got was using Adams??? Ok, forget Adams, build new. I don't care if its new or not. That is the least of the problems. Geeze.