Mayor lays out legislative plan for first quarter

LEETONIA–Mayor Kevin Siembida on Wednesday presented council with several future legislative recommendations for the upcoming months.

Siembida shared his legislative agenda for the first quarter of 2018, discussing with council ordinances he will be bringing forward in the next couple months.

— Pay ordinance

Siembida said he will be providing council with a pay ordinance that will consolidate all the village’s pay ordinances into one. It will also include wage increases for employees while eliminating unnecessary positions, establishing an assistant utilities superintendent position and creating a third water operator’s class to differentiate for experience.

According to Siembida, the pay ordinance works to provide fair compensation to employees while staying competitive with other municipalities.

Discussion of the proposed ordinance focused on the assistant utilities superintendent position.

Village Administrator Gary Phillips voiced the need for someone in an effort to start the transition process in the event current Utilities Superintendent Butch Donnalley retires or is injured.

With extensive experience and knowledge, Donnalley has been allowed by the state to do the job of typically three people in other municipalities, Phillips said. A replacement for him would need not only licensing, but also knowledge and experience with the village’s system. If that person is not ready to take over what Donnalley does, the village would likely need to hire separate employees for each aspect of Donnalley’s job, Phillips noted.

Phillips said it will likely take someone a couple years to fully understand the system..

“We’re a small village, but it’s a complex system,” he explained.

Siembida said the typical cost for an assistant utilities superintendent is $70,000 to $75,000 in comparable municipalities.

— Uniform policy

Siembida said he will be recommending a uniform policy for public utilities employees.

The village eliminated its uniform program for the department in 2013 due to cost and employees have since had to provide their own clothing without an allowance. Siembida said he is not looking at renting like before, but instead purchasing a set of uniforms for which the employees will be responsible; or at the very least creating an allowance for the employees.

According to Siembida, the uniform policy will help establish accountability, ensure safety, improve appearance and compensate for the loss of uniform programs.

Councilman JR Ferry suggested looking into hiring a company again since the company will take care of the maintenance of the clothing.

— Records retention policy

The current policy is to keep everything, Siembida said.

The village needs to establish a schedule for disposing of records, which will mean better public records request response, he said.

Councilman Neal Bayless suggested looking at digitizing records, but Siembida warned the process may prove cost prohibitive.

— Public utilities policy

Siembida said he hopes to hold utility companies accountable for damage to village property with the policy. It would establish permit requirements and help prevent problems in which utilities companies damage village property and fail to fix it in a timely manner.

— Vacant property policy

Siembida said he is also working on vacant property legislation for the business district in an attempt to help economic recovery. He said the legislation will also hold property owners accountable and ensure property owners are making an effort to fill vacancies.

“Our building and zoning codes only go so far,” Siembida said.