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Council OKs Village staff reorganization

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Village Council gave initial approval to a re-organization of the Village administrative structure at its Sept. 19 meeting with a 4–1 vote in favor of a proposal from Village Manager Mark Cundiff.

Judith Hempfling, Lori Askeland, John Booth and Rick Walkey voted in favor, and Karen Wintrow voted against.

“This is overdue,” said Askeland of the staff re-organization. “We looked at this issue hard and closely.”

The re-organization would involve the hiring of an assistant Village manager, who would be responsible for both planning and economic development efforts, and the letting go of current Assistant Planner Ed Amrhein and part-time Economic Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Wildman.

Council has discussed Cundiff’s proposal at several previous meetings, and requested that he bring forward legislation. They will vote on the final reading of the ordinance at their Oct. 3 meeting.

The proposal emerged after Council asked Cundiff last summer for suggestions as to how to lighten his workload. Currently, Cundiff previously wrote to Council, he oversees eight departments and has no backup when he needs to leave. The stress of the Village manager’s workload has prompted a high turnover of Village managers in the last decade, Council members have stated.

“Mark has done an excellent job for the village,” Hempfling said at the Sept. 19 meeting, noting that Cundiff made his proposal after consulting with other municipalities regarding their structures.

While Wintrow stated that she wants to support Cundiff, she voted against the ordinance due to concern that economic development would not be prioritized with the new staff organization.

“Knowing how much time is needed for economic development, I don’t believe it can be done with a person who’s sharing that with planning responsibilities,” she said.

Several villagers at the meeting expressed similar concerns that economic development and planning require different skill sets, and would not mesh easily in one individual.

“Economic development is about building a foundation, while the other is about putting out fires,” said Linda Rudawski.

However, Council members who supported the new ordinance emphasized that they also see economic development as a priority. “I believe this will elevate economic development, not diminish it,” Hempfling said, citing the new position’s full-time rather than part-time focus on development. In checking with other municipalities of comparable size, Hempfling said that few, if any, have an employee focused only on economic development.

“In a small community, people need to wear more than one hat,” she said. “Economic development will be a high priority of this person’s work.”

In other Council business:

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that amends a contract with LJB Engineering to authorize $40,000 for preparing an operations manual for the Yellow Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant. The manual, a requirement of the Ohio OEPA, will serve as a guide for new employees as well as a way to keep the plant in good working order, according to a memo from Cundiff.

The ordinance allows LJB to sub-contract the manual to the firm of Hazen and Sawyer. The cost will be covered by the WPCLF loan the Village received for the plant improvements that were mandated by the OEPA.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that added North Winter and Phillips Street to the streets the Village paved this summer and fall. The two streets had been inadvertently omitted from the original list of streets to be repaved, although purchase orders in the correct amounts had been issued.

The new streets to be paved — also including north Wright Street and a connecting portion of Union Street — added $62,341 to the project, which was covered with the $96,000 budgeted in the Permissive Tax Fund to pay for the work. Even with the additional streets, the project came in under budget, Cundiff wrote.

• In his manager’s report, Cundiff reported that there has been a delay in moving ahead with the Center for Business and Education, or CBE, as the Ohio Department of Transportation, or ODOT, did not approve the project’s Stage 2 submittal, due to concerns that a geo-technical report did not meet ODOT standards. Village staff will meet with ODOT representatives, along with representatives of the firm that prepared the report, about ODOT concerns, Cundiff wrote in his report.

• The Village’s municipal power co-operative, AMP, will soon be asking its membership to join a new wind power project, Cundiff wrote in his manager’s report. The project will require quick decisions, and Cundiff recommended that it be included in the Oct. 3 Council agenda.

• Rumpke, which recently distributed new, larger recycling carts to community members, has stated that those who want to keep using the old red recyling bins may do so, but they cannot use a bin and a cart or more than one bin. If a resident wants the single red bin option, then Rumpke will remove the recycling cart, Cundiff wrote.

• Council’s next meeting will be Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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