Newark officials are trying to figure out how to correct an error that has given 40 union employees an additional 40 hours of vacation time.

Newark officials are trying to figure out how to correct an error that has given 40 union employees an additional 40 hours of vacation time.

During Newark City Council's personnel committee meeting Monday night, administrators asked council for guidance, even though the error does not require council action to correct.

Donna Sears, Newark's human-resources director, said the city could request that the vacation time be paid back or spend $140,000 to pay the remaining 170 employees in the same union contract for the vacation time. She said the union has agreed that the error should be corrected.

Councilman Doug Marmie said he's not interested in paying out any more money to solve the problem.

The city could run into problems trying to get the vacation time reimbursed if employees have retired or if they already have used the vacation time.

Newark law director Doug Sassen said it's the mayor's decision, and Newark Mayor Bob Diebold said he wants the vacation time to be "paid back."

City auditor Stephen Johnson said the city's current software does not allow the city to correct such an error, but he's checking to see if new software being installed in February would allow the city to correct the error by entering negative vacation time for the employees until they actually accrue the time, per the union contract.

City may close section of Chester Street

Newark city engineer Brian Morehead will have to let the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) know what to do with Chester Street when ODOT completes the renovation of entrance and exit ramps off state Route 16 at Cedar Street.

Morehead said a traffic signal is being installed at the ramps and Cedar Street as part of the project. On Monday, he asked Newark City Council's street committee if he should recommend closing Chester between Oakwood Avenue and North Cedar Street, close Chester at Cedar or make right-in, right-out turns on Chester and Cedar.

Council members offered opinions and asked if bicycle-trail parking could be added in that area.

Downtown business group still seeking parking passes

Newark's downtown business owners are waiting to hear if the city will offer parking passes for business owners and residents in the near future.

"It's very important that we do have parking passes available," said Steve Ehret, president of the Downtown Newark Association.

Newark City Council's safety committee Monday night considered a proposal to allow the safety director to set a policy so that some people could park longer than currently allowed in spaces downtown.

Ehret said business owners often need to park downtown longer than the spaces currently allow.

Safety committee chairman Rick Henderson said some residents also might need to park longer than allowed.

Ehret cautioned that the city should not allow people who work downtown to obtain the passes and park in spaces used by business patrons.

The legislation forwarded to council by committee would allow safety director Roger Stollard to set fees and determine eligibility for the passes.