Pickerington's interim City Manager Frank Wiseman said he's happy to be back to work in the community and plans to simply steady the ship for as long as he's at the helm.

On May 31, Bill Vance left office following an eight-year run as Pickerington city manager. He said he left because he couldn't come to agreement with Mayor Lee Gray and City Council on a new, two-year contract.

In the wake of Vance's departure, Wiseman, a former service director for Pickerington and Westerville was named by Gray on June 4 to lead the city on an interim basis.

Under the city's charter, Gray's appointment of Wiseman is good for 60 days. At that point, the mayor can make another 60-day appointment, but that selection requires City Council approval.

After a second appointment, the mayor can propose a full-time appointment that also requires Council support.

Wiseman, 66, said he was enjoying retired life when he got the call from Gray.

He said he will be happy to serve as a fill-in for as long as city officials need him.

Wiseman was Pickerington's service director from 1999-2005 and Westerville service director from 2005-14.

"I actually have no expectations at this time," Wiseman said.

"I serve at the pleasure of the mayor and City Council, and it will be up to them."

In the meantime, Wiseman said he's focused on maintaining the level of city services, particularly customer service, that residents and city employees have come to expect.

Conversely, he's not planning any sweeping changes or major policy proposals during his tenure.

"It's been great coming into a city that has fantastic employees that do their jobs well," Wiseman said. "It makes my job as city manager easier. My plan is, basically, don't upset the apple cart and keep the operations going, day-to-day."

Wiseman said, he is working with city Finance Director Chris Schornack and other city staff members to get up to speed on the city's plans for a 2019 budget.

He also is keeping tabs on the progress of city contracts for work such as this year's $1 million street paving program and the $13.5 million widening of Refugee Road.

About $10 million of the Refugee Road project is being funded by outside grants and construction is expected to start this summer and extend through 2019.

"Those are two large-dollar items we definitely want to keep going," Wiseman said.

Gray said Wiseman was selected because he "has some familiarity with Pickerington and has experience in Westerville. He seemed like he would be a good interim city manager."

The appointment was needed because Gray chose not to execute a new, two-year deal with Vance.

Vance, who's annual salary was $143,263 with another $65,223 in annual employee benefits, acknowledged he signed a new two-year deal to remain city manager, but said the offer from Gray and Council fell short of his expectations.

Gray said Vance was offered a roughly 2-percent increase, and added he chose not to sign Vance's new contract so the former city manager could pursue other opportunities and Pickerington could look for a long-term city manager.

Per Vance's prior contract, approved in March 2016, he will receive a severance package of six-months' salary and all unused sick leave, vacation and holiday pay.

He also is entitled to six months of health, prescription drug, dental and vision insurance.

Wiseman is being paid $10,000 a month to serve as interim city manager. He also gets $560 a month for vehicle and cellular telephone allowances.

"I really enjoyed my time here before," Wiseman said. "I know the people and I like the city. "I've been lucky to work in two cities that are highly customer services-related cities.

"Their first response is to work with residents, keep them informed and try to provide top customer service. I'm just working to reinforce that and make sure the residents and city employees know I'm behind them."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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