As is its annual policy, Upper Arlington City Council recently concluded performance evaluations for City Manager Ted Staton and City Attorney Jeanine Hummer, and both came away with satisfactory marks.
As a result, council voted unanimously Dec. 11 to extend 2.95 percent salary increases to both Staton and Hummer, which Council President Debbie Johnson said are in line with raises given to the city's union and nonunion employees for 2018.
For Staton, who has been city manager since October 2011, the move will bump his annual salary from $200,699.87 to $206,589.63, according to the Upper Arlington Finance Division.
Per his contract, Staton also will receive a "retention bonus" of $20,658.96, which will be deposited in a deferred compensation account.
"I am proud to be part of a team that accomplished much during 2017," Staton said. "In fairness to members of the team, pay raises all fall within the same narrow range between 2.75 percent and 2.95 percent.
"This happens to be the exact same range of increases in our agreements with our employee unions."
Hummer, a city employee since 1989 and city attorney since 2001, will see her annual pay increase from $139,621.87 in 2017 to $143,740.72 in 2018, according to the city's Finance Division.
She also will receive a 10 percent deferred retention bonus of $14,374.07, per her contract.
"I am honored to continue my service with Upper Arlington and fully appreciate the raise," Hummer said. "Having served the city since July of 1989, I appreciate the confidence the city has placed in me and this office."
In approving the increases, council members hailed Staton's and Hummer's leadership and noted the city continues to progress with infrastructure improvements, economic development and the transition from an in-house 911 dispatching operation to outsourcing those services to the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center in Dublin.
"We've had great year and a half for our city," Council Vice President Kip Greenhill said. "When you take a look back, we've had record levels for economic development, we hit highs as far as infrastructure work -- and I'm not talking just money expended, but the number of projects that have been taken on by the city.
"We've ranked as one of the safest cities in America, and the list goes on. So, there's a lot of good things happening in this city."
In regard to Staton's work, Johnson said, "The city is in good shape moving forward and we know a lot of it is to the efforts of our city manager."
Prior to approving Hummer's increase, Johnson said, "It's been a rough couple of years, we know that. We love the fact you are available to us at all times and you truly have the city's best interests at all times."
In October, the city won its latest bid before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to prohibit Tree of Life Christian Schools from opening a school in the city's largest office building. That ruling is being appealed by Tree of Life to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
But Upper Arlington officials also have dealt with public relations clashes with some in the community.
In August 2016, residents unhappy with council's plans to redevelop Northam Park and what they said was a pattern of disregard for public input and frivolous government spending unsuccessfully attempted to recall council members Johnson, Greenhill, John C. Adams and David DeCapua.
The city also lost a case in the Ohio Supreme Court in fall 2016 after Omar Ganoom successfully argued that the city must hold an election to fill a council seat vacated by Mike Schadek, rather than permit the remaining council members to appoint a replacement.
Last May, the Ohio Court of Claims sided with resident Bob Foulk, who argued city officials unlawfully redacted 14 minutes of audio from a recording of a January 2017 council retreat.
Prior to council's approval of Hummer's raise, Todd Jaquith, a frequent attendee of public meetings who has criticized the city's handling of issues related to Northam Park and responsiveness to resident complaints, questioned why the city attorney would receive a raise.
Jaquith referenced Foulk's victory in the Court of Claims and said Hummer's office recently blocked him from receiving a video recording of a November Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning meeting.
"At what point do you question a person's judgment and say, 'They're being obstructionists, they're throwing up roadblocks'?" Jaquith asked.
Darlene Pettit, an assistant city attorney, said the city doesn't video record BZAP meetings so there is no video to turn over to fulfill Jaquith's records request.
She said Jaquith also asked for security video surveillance from council chambers, where the BZAP meeting was held, which she said is not subject to public-records law.
"We need to maintain the privacy of how those (security) cameras are focused and what you see to protect the security of the city and the chamber," Pettit said.
Jaquith's protests were cut off by Johnson, who said council had evaluated Hummer's performance "very much."
Adams, who has supported calls to video-record public meetings so they can be reviewed by the public, said Jaquith's arguments related to his request did not pertain to Hummer's performance evaluation or raise.