Former MetroParks’ leader harvests pay

Dice, who quit two years ago, to receive $14,200.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 23, 2013

 

Despite quitting more than two years ago, Erie MetroParks’ former top official still should receive a bunch of green from taxpayers.

Erie MetroParks commissioners agreed to pay Steve Dice, the district’s previous executive director, about $14,200 in one lump sum.

Dice should obtain the money sometime in January, park commissioner Kurt Landefeld said.

Area taxpayers owed Dice, who retired in June 2011, about $31,600 in unused sick and vacation time.

Up until this past week, park officials arranged a payment schedule in which Dice received small monthly increments of whatwas owed to him.

Dice, earning about $73,000 a year, quit 18 months before his contracted ended.

“The installment method was done due to the financial situation of the park at the time,” said Amy Bowman-Moore, the district’s executive director.

Bowman-Moore alluded to a financial fallout involving sky-high legal costs peaking when Dice resigned. Taxpayers fronted about $1 million from 1995 through 2011 on MetroParks’ legal costs.

Most of these costs resulted from Huron River Greenway litigation.

Former MetroParks officials unlawfully seized land belonging to about 35 River Road property owners to create the greenway, or a path running next to a river. But a 2007 Ohio Supreme Court ruling vindicated property owners while simultaneously scorning park officials for stealing their land.

Judges demanded officials compensate homeowners for all the land they lost.

Homeowners, however, didn’t obtain their land back until fall 2011 — several months after Dice quit — when an agreement with the residents and park officials finally occurred.

The legal costs dried up MetroParks’ budget, causing employees to panic when Dice suggested laying off several employees in mid-2011.

Upon learning this, about two dozen employees signed a petition and submitted it to commissioners, calling for Dice to resign.

The former executive director also:

• Failed to obtain two building permits for the Children’s Enchanted Cottage. The reading centered then closed for about 18 months.

• Created $124,000 of “bogus revenue” in a previous budget after park commissioners demanded more cash carryover for a previous budget.

Fast forward to today, and the district’s financial outlook projects more favorably — mostly because of greenway-related litigation ending — allowing officials to fully payoff Dice.

The district’s budget hovers right around $1.8 million a year.

“That financial situation has improved, and a lump sum is now a more prudent way to pay Mr. Dice the money he has due to him” said Bowman-Moore, Dice’s successor.

Comments

Stop It

Why?

reader

He ought to get a boot in his pants for the Greenway fiasco. And a lump of coal in his stocking.

Why were the lawyers who okay ed the Metropark's land purchase from the railroad never held accountable?

SamAdams

Okay, I understand that MetroParks is fulfilling its end of what is doubtless a contract specifying such payment to Dice. But didn't Dice break the contract first when he committed financial malfeasance (or worse)? Why on earth would the MetroParks throw away still MORE money on Dice?

Taxpayer2800

He should be in jail, not being paid for his crimes.

Taxpayer2800

He should be in jail, not being paid for his crimes.

Erie County Resident

Seeing as he created the fiasco that cost the taxpayers of Erie County how many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why is he being compensated at all for anything?

MrSandusky

The answer to everyone's questions above is simply because the voters and citizens of Erie County let it happen and continue. From our Prosecutor to our various water departments, to the MetroParks we allow waste, fraud, abuse, and malpractice to happen on a daily basis in this county. Yet we keep elected the same people, and keep supporting the same broken issues. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Julie R.

Don't blame the citizens for electing the same corrupt old boys & girls that are behind all the waste, fraud, abuse, and malpractice that happens on a daily basis in corrupt Erie County. After all, nobody ever runs against them so the corrupt jokes ~ not to mention their special attorney friends ~ have it made in the shade. For some odd reason, all the wuz attorneys in Erie County are afraid of that corrupt little clique.

Nemesis

The voters still vote for levies to hand more money over to them. On a levy there's ALWAYS an opposing candidate - his name is "no."

One way or the other, people elect the government they deserve.

PolarBear24

Register, can you please clarify if he quit or retired? Generally unused sick time is only payable upon retirement in a public retirement system according to revised code.

Julie R.

I would like to know if he quit or retired, too. If he quit then he is NOT entitled to his unused sick & vacation pay. I say that because ---- remember when the former finance director in Vermilion (Michelle Bowens) quit and thought she was entitled to her unused sick & vacation day pay of less than $10 thousand when she left office? Baxter and Vermilion's law director Ken Stumphauzer (who incidentally is from the same Lorain County law firm ~ Stumphauzer & O'Toole ~ as the attorneys for MetroParks) had the woman arrested and charged with theft in office. Of course, I think her arrest had a lot to do with the fact that the former Vermilion mayor, Jean Anderson, had a lawsuit filed against Stumphauzer's Lorain County law firm of Stumphauzer & O'Toole for refusing to provide itemized accounts of what they were charging the Vermilion taxpayers. Baxter & his favorite Lorain County law firm (not to mention their judge buddies at the courthouse) were just trying to make Anderson look bad because the so-called theft of unused sick & vacation day pay took place under her management.

Nevertheless, if the former finance director in Vermilion wasn't entitled to her unused sick & vacation day pay when she left office because she quit ~ and was even arrested and charged with theft ~ then the same goes for the snake Dice!

Nemesis

It depends on the contract negotiated. The Cleveland school superintendent negotiated a contract that let him quit and collect six figures of unused PTO.

Perhaps if the voters weren't so generous with the levies, the Metroparks board might be a little more careful with the money when negotiating contracts. Instead, voters rubber stamp all their money requests, so they walk in and pay sticker price for everything.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

We dont need all these parks for free. to much free to pay for by tax payer. Close and sell or pay to go...........

Centauri

"Created $124,000 of “bogus revenue” in a previous budget after park commissioners demanded more cash carryover for a previous budget."

Possible violation of Ohio law. See 2913.42 Tampering with records.

Centauri

I am unable to post links that tell the truth. Look up the Erie Metro-Parks minutes from June 13, 2013. The minutes are posted online.

"Comm. Miears asked about the Steve Dice payout? Ms. Loera asked if he had received the payout schedule that she sent electronically. She stated that it is approximately $3,000 for this year. Comm. Miears asked what is our obligation (total commitment) to Mr. Dice. He stated 437 hours. What does that equal? Ms. Loera stated $200 x 12 months= $2,400 per yearthrough 2020. Ms. Loera explained that this was an unprecedented payout for a director, the staff was mad because it was beyond what the Ohio Revised Code and Erie MetroParks’ policy allows."

Corrupt Erie County, Ohio doesn't need any stinkin' Ohio Revised Code.

sugar

Is this why the Commissioners raised our taxes??? lol. I agree with Mr. Sandusky. Until we address the underlying problems with government the taxpayer will always be the one to take it on the jaw.

Nemesis

They didn't raise your taxes, you and all the other voters did. Every penny of the Metroparks budget is from voter-approved levies.

Centauri

"“That financial situation has improved, and a lump sum is now a more prudent way to pay Mr. Dice the money he has due to him” said Bowman-Moore, Dice’s successor."

Levy coming in 2014

(Erie MetroParks minutes October 9, 2013)
"Commissioner Glovinsky motioned to approve Ms. Bowman-Moore to move forward with putting the levy on the May 2014 ballot."

Julie R.

Commissioner Glovinsky ~ the former Huron police chief ~ is one of Baxter & Co.'s good old boys.

Nemesis

And thus, in May, county residents will have an opportunity to change things, but I wouldn't bet on them acting on it.

Julie R.

My submission triggered the spam filter about the former Vermilion finance director that was arrested and charged with THEFT IN OFFICE when she left office (i.e. quit) for taking her unused sick & vacation day pay ...... so check out Michelle Bowens on the web. The article about her joke arrest is in the Lorain Journal. (the paper that only prints what the good old boys tell them to)