Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland will get the time he had requested to try to save three administrative positions that are in jeopardy.
The positions were scheduled to be eliminated as the result of the 2019 budget that was approved after the city income-tax rate increase was rejected by voters in November.
Positions scheduled to be defunded June 1 included the parks and recreation director, the forestry foreman and the economic-development manager.
Gahanna City Council voted 6-1 during a special meeting May 24 on a resolution to transfer funds in the amount of $7,040 from park-services part-time wages to finance the parks and recreation director’s position to July 1.
The approved resolution transfers $4,215 from a parks-services full-time wages to fund the forestry foreman to July 1 and $5,430 from full-time wages in the mayor’s office to fund the economic-development manager to July 1.
Kneeland had requested extending from June 1 to July 1 the defunding of the three positions, saying the administration needed time to prepare a proposed supplemental appropriation based on anticipated revenue that will be generated by the approval of the city income-tax rate increase on the May ballot.
Kneeland said 22 members of the city’s team have left their positions in recent months 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.
Voting in favor this time around were council president Brian Metzbower and members Stephen Renner, Karen Angelou, Jamie Leeseberg, Nancy McGregor and Michael Schnetzer. Council member Brian Larick cast the dissenting vote.
“My concern is with the need for additional time,” Larick said. “The positions have been at risk for many months. In addition, this isn’t legislation with regard to reinstating the positions. This is just additional time on top of the months that have existed to evaluate and present any needs to council. I don’t know I quite understand why even additional time is still required.”
Council initially rejected a similar request May 20 that didn’t provide specific dollar amounts or accounts to fund the three positions.
Metzbower said city attorney Shane Ewald had changed the substance of the legislation to include specificity.
“I’m pleased we could come to this resolution,” he said. “I know our city staff has been short-staffed and extremely overloaded. I appreciate all the hard work they do.”
After the revenue estimates are completed, Kneeland said in correspondence to council, he will submit a supplemental-appropriation request that includes funding for the three positions for the remainder of 2019 and positions that were defunded completely, including police lieutenant and police data analyst.
In addition to these requests, he said, he also will request that the wage freeze for the unclassified team be reconsidered.
Kneeland said the administration is working to back-fill the vacancies that are essential to city operations.
Because of the number of vacancies, it is anticipated that many of those vacancies will continue through the summer.
He said a wage increase in 2019 for the employees in the unclassified service is vital to retain current employees and attract new talent.
Kneeland said it’s 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.