Gahanna City Council rejected legislation Monday, May 20, that would have extended by one month the date to defund three positions: the parks and recreation director, the forestry foreman and the economic-development manager.
Mayor Tom Kneeland had requested to move the date from June 1 to July 1, saying the administration needed time to prepare a proposed supplemental appropriation based on anticipated revenue that will be generated by Issue 12 for 2019.
Council members Brian Larick, Jamie Leeseberg and Nancy McGregor voted against the measure. Council president Brian Metzbower and council members Karen Angelou and Michael Schnetzer voted for it. Council vice president Stephen Renner was absent due to illness. A tie vote means the measure failed.
Kneeland said 22 talented members of the city have left their positions for such reasons as resignation, retirement and layoff.
As a result of employees who separated from the city already this year, he said, the salary savings could cover the one-month extension.
“I deem it prudent and necessary to restore the three positions subject to a layoff and reconsider the unclassified wage freeze for the health, safety and welfare of the community,” Kneeland wrote in a May 13 memo to council.
McGregor said the city wouldn't see funds from Issue 12 until August at the earliest, and the city doesn’t know how much it will be.
She said cuts were made for the 2019 budget based on being able to fund the programs offered for this year.
“At this point, I just couldn’t vote for this,” she said. “Maybe during this next week, I can get some more information. It just seems like we didn’t have enough information presented last week to make this decision.”
Metzbower said he wanted to look at ways to restore some of the “very unfortunate cuts we were forced to make.”
He said he was in full support of the administration having adequate time to look through the numbers so council could discuss and debate.
Angelou said a month would give time for discussion.
“With the extra month, my hope is to have a decision to fund some of what’s missing,” she said. “Money is going to be coming in. … I hope we can fund some of those things not scheduled to be funded.”
Kneeland said the vote against the extension puts the city in a pretty serious position.
“I find it very disingenuous for those who voted against this extension just to get information,” he said. “We’ll do what we can to make sure that everything works. We’ll keep the community safe. But there will likely be programs that suffer because without people, we can’t operate.”
Metzbower said he’s a bit disappointed in his colleagues who said they didn’t have enough information.
“This was a vote to provide the information,” he said. “The mayor said it well -- disingenuous.”
After the meeting, city attorney Shane Ewald said it’s possible legislation could be brought back to council if a special council meeting is called, that could change the decision.
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