A new position in Bexley is designed to enhance communication between the city and residents and improve getting the word out about services and upcoming developments, according to Mayor Ben Kessler.
Bexley City Council members are discussing an ordinance that, if approved by council on its third reading, would officially create a new communications coordinator position at an annual salary of $37,000 to $55,000, depending on the experience level of the successful candidate.
Kessler said the city created a deputy director and development and communications position in March 2014 then hired Beth Sharb to fill it. However, the city eliminated the position after Sharb left for another job after six months.
"It felt like we were trying to do two things with one person that weren't necessarily compatible," Kessler said of the previous position, adding the new communications coordinator position will be focused solely on communication.
The new position was partly inspired by the recently released 2017 Bexley Community Survey that Capital University's Public Relations Research class conducted, Kessler said.
The class mailed surveys to 800 randomly selected households and received 209 completed forms. The survey asked respondents to rate the city of Bexley on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score, in areas such as the effectiveness of the police and recreation departments, code enforcement, communication and responsiveness to residents.
Eighty-eight percent of the respondents rated the city's communication efforts with a 4 or 5, for a mean score of 4.42.
"While we scored well and we had improvements, it seemed like there were lots of areas where residents were saying, 'We'd like to see a little bit more on certain fronts, especially when it comes to print material,' " Kessler said.
In addition to overseeing print publications, Kessler said the communications coordinator could assist with event management, take over the city's Bexley Blast weekly email update and oversee other social media and public relations efforts that he currently handles personally.
"It will allow me to focus more on customer service and strategic priorities that I think are important to the city," he said.
Council members said they think the newly created position could help enhance the city's communication with residents.
"I am generally in favor of this," said Deneese Owen, chairwoman of council's Finance Committee, who introduced the ordinance.
"I get how time-consuming (communications) can be. It's kind of tedious work, so if we can get somebody who has some good writing, editing, basic design skills, that's going to take a lot of burden not only off of the mayor, but other department heads as well."
"I think it's a great idea," said Mary Gottesman, chairwoman of council's Service and Environmental Committee. "Especially for senior citizens, having more things in print will get them more included and up-to-date on what's happening and why."
Council's second reading of the related ordinance is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 23 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.