Licking County News

Coey will use consultants for two vacant administrative positions

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Acting Pataskala Administrator Nathan Coey will use consultants to cover administrative posts left vacant by two recent departures.

Eric Fischer, Pataskala's planning director, turned in his resignation March 4. Benjamin King, the public-services director, left Feb. 28 to become director of operations for Violet Township in Fairfield County.

Pataskala City Council in a March 10 special meeting authorized Coey to use consultants for the two positions instead of having other city workers cover the job responsibilities.

Council voted unanimously to allow Coey to contract with Stantec Engineering to use Jon Gross as acting public-services director and voted 6-1 to contract with the KASS Corp. to use Andy Walther as acting planning director and economic-development consultant.

Pat Sagar voted against hiring KASS, a Columbus development company of which Walther is president, saying she didn't feel it was the right fit for the position.

Sagar requested the two issues -- which originally were in one resolution -- be separated and other City Council members agreed.

Coey called using the two consultants "a very good solution."

He said the consultants would have a stabilizing effect; as an example, residents would not have to be transferred several times to get questions answered, he said

Both consultants will be administrative appointments.

Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton said March 14 city officials are adjusting wording in the contracts for Stantec and KASS and are expected to present any changes to Pataskala City Council on Monday, March 17.

Finance Director James Nicholson previously said the city included $61,700 in wages and benefits for a city engineer in the 2014 budget, which would fund about six months for that position.

City officials also included $90,000 in the 2014 budget to retain Stantec Engineering of Columbus the first six months of 2014.

In addition, the contract approved with the KASS Corp. is not to exceed $60,000 through Dec. 31, according to city officials.

The finance committee reviewed proposals submitted by nine consultants before the special meeting. Todd Barstow and Tim Hickin recommended hiring the KASS Corp. because of the company's experience and the variety of services it could offer.

City Council on March 10 also unanimously approved qualifications for both positions, requiring the next public-services director to be a city engineer and requiring the new planning director to have a four-year planning degree and five years of full-time experience in planning.

The qualifications approved do not apply to the acting directors.

City Council members disputed both requirements. Mike Fox said requiring an engineer for the position would rule out some quality people, such as the previous director, King.

Council President Dan Hayes said even if the city hires an engineer, it might have to use outside consultants for some engineering services.

"I don't expect a city engineer to do all that (King) did. But I think it might be cheaper to hire an engineer as director of public services and promote someone from that department to supervisor," Hayes said.

Fox tried to amend the legislation and change the five years experience for the planning director to two years, but the proposed amendment died in a 6-1 vote, with Fox being the only member in favor.

Coey said he would change the job postings on the city's website to reflect the requirements.

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