Mount Vernon City Hall

MOUNT VERNON — Bringing in a human resources manager has been a goal of Council member Samantha Scoles. That goal became reality on Monday when council members passed a budget that funds the new position.

Council had previously discussed the HR position but held off, waiting for a strategic plan for personnel  and to see if funding is available. Monday, council waived the required three readings and created a director of human resources position at a yearly salary of $70,000.

Noting that the city has 180 employees, Scoles, who chairs the Employee and Community Relations Committee, said, “Any business with this number of staff would have a whole HR department.”

Scoles said over the next few years the city will replace about 30% of its work force. To have an HR manager to increase retention, recruit quality, and free up department heads to focus on departmental responsibilities she said will be beneficial.

“I think the possibilities are endless for what this position can do for us,” Scoles said.

Safety-service Director Richard Dzik said a priority for the HR director will be creating an orientation program. Currently department heads do the training once the employee is on the job. With an HR manager, Dzik said orientation and safety training can be done ahead of time to get employees ready before their first day.

In addition to recruitment, other specific activities include conducting disciplinary investigations and procedures, supporting employees with issues such as family medical leave, and updating the city’s policy manuals and job descriptions.

Mayor Matt Starr said that in the absence of an HR manager, Dzik has handled day-to-day personnel issues while Starr has focused on recruitment, development, and orientation. Orientation includes getting new employees acclimated to the culture.

Noting that Gen Z or millennials who are technology-oriented will be the replacements in the city’s work force, Starr said, “We need to be able to recruit, market and create a culture they’ve learned to function in.”

Council members also waived the required three readings in adopting the remaining budget appropriations for 2021. In December, they appropriated $6.445 million to cover the first two months of 2021.

The overall budget is $52.7 million, of which $11.6 million is in the general fund. Estimated 2021 revenue is $33.447 million. Because city departments did not use all of their appropriations for 2020, the city had a carryover of $20.7 million.

To cover increased short-term immediate costs such as sludge removal, Auditor Terry Scott shorted several accounts, including payroll. He noted that the shortfall will need to be replaced later in the year as revenue comes in.

The budget includes $338,859 for paving. A list of paving projects is not yet available.

The reserve balance account received $344,339, bringing the account balance to $1.799 million. Council passed legislation in 2017 that requires an annual contribution equal to 5% of the previous year’s expenditures.

Following are additional highlights of the appropriations. Note that some projects (i.e. the Columbus Road/South Main Street signal upgrade) use funds from several different accounts.

Roads & Bridges: $1.749 million

--Land acquisition Sandusky Street corridor, $375,000

--North Main/Chestnut intersection, $5,000 (Ohio Public Works Commission providing grant for remainder)

--North Sandusky Street safety project, $416,090 (ODOT $1.675 million)

--North Sandusky Street sidewalk improvements, $14,000 (CDBG $120,000)

--Columbus Road/South Main intersection signal upgrade, $36,00 (ODOT $264,000)

--Ariel-Foundation Park Kokosing River dike breech repair, $360,000 (Ohio EPA and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District $300,000 each)

Engineering: $800,000

Engineering requests totaled $1.110 million. Funding was provided for $800,000, of which $242,057 is allocated for current design projects carried forward from 2020. Projects being considered for the remaining $557,942 include:

--Sandusky Street safety project, $20,000

--Columbus Road/South Main Street signal, $20,000

--Mansfield Road bike trail, $50,000

--Mansfield Road traffic signal replacement at Belmont/Nuce, $45,000

--Main Street/Chestnut Street intersection, estimated $20,000

--Ariel-Foundation Park dike breech, $50,000

--Oak Street/Catherine Street brick street rehab, $25,000

--Clintonville Study utilities/sidewalk (Mansfield and Clinton roads, Fern and Grange avenues, Pearl Street), estimate $200,000

--Sandusky Street phase 3 improvements, estimated $250,000

Capital Improvements: $2.99 million

--Cemetery – new roof, ceiling tile, insulation & HVAC upgrades of office building, $39,000; new shop building, $200,000

--LED lighting - City Hall, The Station Break, tax/water building, $28,000

--Electronic door security system - CA&C depot, cemetery, parks, and fire, $10,000

--CA&C depot – partial roof repair, $45,000

--City Hall – HVAC control unit upgrade, $75,000

--Urban improvements – North Sandusky/West Chestnut street intersection landscaping, $43,927; condemned structure demolition, $45,000 (no identified structures at this time); ANC/Shellmar well abandonment, $20,000

--Equipment – software upgrade auditor’s office, $45,000; vehicle for engineering, $45,500; building maintenance truck, $38,000; bulk fuel tanks, parks department, $20,000; ¾ ton pickup truck, parks, $32,000; restroom cleaning vehicle, parks, $25,000; mower tractor, streets, $120,000; lawn tractor, streets, $24,000; dump truck with snow plow and salt spreader, streets, $170,000.

Bond retirement: $1.778 million

Appropriated across seven different funds. The water and wastewater departments, along with the various TIF (tax increment financing) districts, each pay on their debt; the general fund pays for general debt.

TIF Districts

--Industrial Park TIF $154,292 for bond retirement; no projects planned in 2021.

--Sandusky Street TIF $35,197; no projects planned for 2021.

--Coshocton Avenue TIF $4.098 million balance. Estimated 2021 revenue $1.37 million. Potential 2021 projects include drainage system at Rural King entrance; preliminary work at intersection of Coshocton and Upper Gilchrist roads (project to include radius widening to accommodate turn lanes); drainage basin/maintenance on northwest side of Vernonview Drive and Coshocton Avenue.

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