Sweet deal of a contract

Register
Jun 3, 2014
Can the city really afford to pay for all the perks?
 
Holding the reins on the budget can sometimes be difficult. Reading the city manager’s contract, I sometimes wonder if the commissioners have forgotten the budget plight when handing out the perks. The city is trying to sell us on a tax increase, but it has sent the wrong message. The commissioners will always find money for expenditures while passing on the shortfall to the citizens. More staff and services will be reduced to accommodate the spending beyond the city’s capabilities. 
 
The city doesn’t have money to keep a fire station open, but it can possibly buy back a city manager’s house costing anywhere up to $200,000 and then try to resell the house to get the money back. If the city manager can’t sell his house within four months, what makes the city think it can sell the house? 
 
How does it look giving out incentives to the city manager while the rest of employees receive a measly 1.5 raise? The employees scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with cuts to the budget and the city disregarded all of that when giving out a mind boggling incentive package to the new city manager. 
 
It seems the contractual perks are getting way out of hand. Just recently, I read an article where a school superintendent in the area received a salary of $119,000 while collecting a nine percent raise over his three year term. The pay structure is out of control when school superintendents in this area are making as much as a city manager who has more duties and responsibilities than school superintendents. The schools will always pass the expenditure on to the taxpayer by asking for another operating levy to help pay for the perks. 
 
I do wish the new city manager the very best, because the city has had its share of nonproductive city managers. Each time we lose a city manager, the city loses focus and needs to start all over again trying to catch up while getting nothing done in the meantime. The city employees have had to flex so much that it damages morale and productivity by not acquiring true leadership. 
 
I hope with each city manager hired, that the person is going to be the one who will have the proven leadership to really make a difference. Our city deserves a leader who can accommodate both sides of the political fence, and who can give equal time to both the business people and residents while making Sandusky the very best that it can be.

Comments

Keep Focused

Sharon, this time the City had recruited someone more than we deserve. He is someone who can deliver what he says.

Next, holding the line on expenditures will not take us to economic recovery. Unfortunately, five additional firefighters (as much as we need them) won't take us to economic recovery.

Additional tax % from Cedar Point is a bad idea. The amount of dollars Cedar Point pays in taxes is increasing at the current %. They are holding up to their side of the deal now.

For the city to get back to a strong position, it has to grow. An investment into this new manager is the right decision.

Nemesis

"Additional tax % from Cedar Point is a bad idea. The amount of dollars Cedar Point pays in taxes is increasing at the current %. They are holding up to their side of the deal now."

Well put!

reader

The city admissions tax has been way below that charged elsewhere for decades.

The proposed increase is to raise the tax to 6 percent.....still a discount compared to most other locations. Cleveland's admissions tax is 8 percent.

Sharon, have you ever written a column with a positive tone?

Nemesis

"The city admissions tax has been way below that charged elsewhere for decades."

If you paid better attention, maybe you wouldn't be trotting out the same debunked apples to oranges comparisons. It is well above that charged (ZERO!) by the host city to Ohio's other major amusement park, a park that competes for capital investment with Cedar Point in the Cedar Fair boardroom. Mason, OH has much more in common with Sandusky than Anaheim or Orlando.

"The proposed increase is to raise the tax to 6 percent.....still a discount compared to most other locations. Cleveland's admissions tax is 8 percent."

Cleveland has showered the payers of their admissions tax with over $500 million in taxpayer funded freebies.

DGMutley

"Cleveland has showered the payers of their admissions tax with over $500 million in taxpayer funded freebies."

Paid with the sin taxes. Why are you so against charging sales tax on admission tickets? Especially when the sales tax goes directly to the community?

ski

Is the writer of this article really saying anything meaningful or just venting? The commissioners must have seen quality in the applicant to offer the contract with the wages and benefits as stated. The commissioners and the new city manager are the proverbial "man in the arena" actually doing something, why not either a)do something helpful to them or b)find something that truly needs to be brought to the readers' or commissioners' attention and then addressed.

The Bizness

She offers nothing to the community other than negativity.

Ralph J.

How about some positive ideas from you? Why did many stores move out to Perkins?

The Bizness

Access to tourists?

I offer many positive idea.
1. Reuse the waste heat from the water treatment plant where they burn methane to create electricity for shelby st. boat launch.
2. More substantial bike lanes in the city to encourage cycling to work.
3. Redesign STS so it is a spoke like system rather than a looped system. The buses can go back and forth on the same roads rather than in hour long loops.
4. We as a community need to step up and keep our homes clean and well maintained. We also need to have gardens for food, and when that extra fresh food is available give it to someone in need.
5. The city needs to be more strict on code enforcement, and Metro needs to make sure landlords are maintaining their homes properly.
6. We as citizens need to keep patronizing our locally owned small business, and spend some time downtown and near the water.
7. If a developer wants an unused piece of lake front property then they should have it and be able to develop on it without much anger.
8. We should have a bike share system, one located in downtown sandusky, one by Cedar Point employee building, and one possibly on Kelleys Island.

I have a lot of ideas :)

T. A. Schwanger

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I'm not aware of any "unused waterfront property".

Nemesis

Fine, then - UNDERused, which includes uses that derive no material benefit from a waterfront location, such as City Hall. There never was a good reason for the wave pool to be on the waterfront, a location that can't be accessed from most residential areas without crossing what would, under better economic circumstances, be the city's busiest streets.

Rosa

I love all your ideas, get the city going on them!! #7 concerns me however, as long we keep all the public waterfront area downtown for all citizens to enjoy and never give that to a private entity to make $$$ for themselves
I think also that Sharon made some very good points. Kudos to her for having the guts to state them. I am sure that she is just saying what most people are thinking.
Good Luck to Mr. Wobser, I hope that he can be all that he is being paid for!

Nemesis

"#7 concerns me however, as long we keep all the public waterfront area downtown for all citizens to enjoy and never give that to a private entity to make $$$ for themselves"

Why? Sandusky already has more public waterfront, in raw miles and as a percentage of the total available, than most waterfront cities.

Let's examine the implications of this leftist holy writ of Schwanger and his disciples that waterfront property can go from private to public, but never the other way. At its core, it's based on a class-warfare resentment-driven desire to deny something desirable to anyone who's successful. Over the long term, it effectively creates a prohibition on private ownership of waterfront property through slow attrition, as the normal random distribution of transactions is artificially filtered to exclude any that don't support a gradual transformation to exclusive public ownership.

Our economy depends upon innovators and entrepeneurs who endure, sacrifice, and toil to reach a certain level of success, and their general real estate buying habits once they succeed are strongly indicative that their preferences as a reward for all they do include ownership of waterfront property, to use as they see fit. The Schwangerites' First Commandment effectively takes that off the table, not all at once immediately, but eventually and incrementally. Why then, should those people strive in ways that typically create jobs and otherwise serve the needs of society?

Furthermore, a great deal of the local tourist and summer recreation economy requires waterfront property. Should we just write that off?

T. A. Schwanger

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@The Biz.

There is no such thing as negativity, simply opposing opinions.

Take for instance your idea of privately developing public areas of the waterfront. While you want private development on let's say the Sandusky Bay Pavilion site, many in the community want to see the facility improved for public use instead of being allowed to further deteriorate. The local foundations and the Maritime Museum have kept the facility afloat spending dollars for improvements.. It's time for the City to listen to those who overwhelmingly spoke in favor of improving end enhancing the facility.

The Bizness

There is definitely such thing as negativity as myself and others have stated.

Many in the community, such as myself, wouldn't mind seeing the pavilion site put up for sale. Would I like to see a public/private cooperative agreement on it? Sure! I just think that it is a small piece of property that may be developed into something better than what it currently is if it was sold. There are plenty of other areas that private business could develop and I think we should not get in the way of it. I am not

By the way I didn't mention that it be public owned property. I was simply saying if a private company buys a piece of land and wants to develop there we shouldn't make it difficult on them.

You always claim you and Sharon are not associated with eachother but you always come and defend her when I start making comments. I find that interesting. Just because there are a vocal few does not mean that you are the majority in the community.

T. A. Schwanger

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@ The Biz.

I'm responding to your statement referencing "developing unused property" as well as your past postings regarding development on public waterfront property. In the past you have expressed emphasis on privately developing the Sandusky Bay Pavilion. How you associate my statement with "defending Ms. Johnson" is not related to this article.

There is an active plan for the Sandusky Bay Pavilion which includes keeping the pavilion public and allowing BGSU Firelands the opportunity for Lake Erie Learning Lab education space.

Check out these URLs. http://ri.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=...

From the Sandusky 2007 Parks and Recreation Plan. http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=t...

I do have to question perhaps you have your own little piece of waterfront you can call your own and may not see the importance of developing what is private and improving what is public for the public. It's worth repeating over 90% of Sandusky's waterfront is privately developed.

Referencing Ms. Johnson's post on the new City Manager's contract, I, as well as many others in the community, including City Commissioner Twine, feel a home buyback clause, should the new manager get fired in the first 4 years, is extremely extravagant and fiscal foolish.

Julie R.

Sharon Johnson makes some very good points and common sense points at that. She's also correct when she says "if the city manager can't sell his house within four months, what makes the city think they can sell it?" Obviously, houses in Erie County aren't selling very fast and some aren't selling at all. Stories I've heard about all these foreclosures, some of the houses are going to sheriff sales 3 or more times and nobody even bids on them.

The Answer Person

Sharon,
Seriously, You can't think that your photo on here is the least bit flattering can you? Won't you or the Register try to find a better shot of yourself instead of one squinting into the sun?

Nemesis

"The pay structure is out of control when school superintendents in this area are making as much as a city manager who has more duties and responsibilities than school superintendents."

This statement is way off base. In the executive sphere, duties and responsibilities are typically measured in terms of the number of employees underneath an individual. Most school districts have 4 or more times as many employees as the cities in which they are located.

"How does it look giving out incentives to the city manager while the rest of employees receive a measly 1.5 raise?"

How does it look paying millions for a quarterback when the box office and groundskeeping people are making minimum wage? Market value hinges on the uniqueness of one's contribution. The city has to pay the going rate for the talent, skills, credentials and track record it wants in a prospective hire. Which leads us to this....

"I hope with each city manager hired, that the person is going to be the one who will have the proven leadership to really make a difference. Our city deserves a leader "

And how do you define a leader? You're pinning a lot of hope on someone who, at the end of the day, is just an administrator - a bureaucrat. On the one hand, you call the compensation excessive, and on the other, you place messianic expectations on the new manager - your expectations are out of line with your assessment of the compensation. Sharon, this is unfortunately typical of your columns - they bounce back and forth between mutually exclusive paragraphs with no consistent thesis. You could really benefit from choosing a central point and starting with an outline of how you plan to support it, rather than what appears to be train of consciousness off the cuff writing. Some of your best ideas have been panned because of the disorganized way you presented them.

The actual decision making power lies with the commissioners, and as Sandusky residents should be well aware, a city manager whose vision disagrees with that of the commissioners is soon gone. The real question is, are the high-priced traits, credentials and history the commissioners consistently seek in a city manager necessary, or even functionally related to the job to be performed? We're talking about a middle manager with 100-250 people beneath him/her. What are the qualifications and compensation typically seen for such a role in the private sector? I don't think the salary is out of line, but maybe the "rock star" CV is a little overkill. The house buyback clause is solely a result of this fetish for candidates from anywhere but Sandusky. It could easily be avoided if both the commissioners and, from a lot of comments here, residents could get over their hangup about believing that no local person could possibly ever be good enough.

DGMutley

Sharon Johnson brings up some good points but the contract is a good contract for a person with his credentials. Again, good luck Eric Wobser! Welcome to Sandusky!