Mount Vernon City Hall

MOUNT VERNON — After more discussion on Monday night, Mount Vernon City Council moved forward on getting help for its engineering department and filling other vacant positions.

Council members adopted legislation creating the position of assistant city engineer at a salary of $70,000 to $80,000. However, by a 5-2 vote, they amended the ordinance to remove language that creates an engineering project manager position.

Council members Amber Keener and Julia Warga voted not to remove the project manager position, feeling that the position needs filled now. Those voting in favor want to include the position in the 2022 budget when the financial picture is better known.

Utilities Commission member Keith Burley spoke in favor of creating both positions.

“I think it's really critical that we move forward with these positions as we are at a critical point in budgeting and planning for next year,” he said.

A member of the Utilities Commission, Burley said the city is in need of a permanent public utilities director but in particular staffing within the engineering department.

“It seems like there are some thoughts that these positions aren't essential, but we probably have more essential activities than we can undertake with the current staff that we have,” he said.

Burley, who was also a member of the 2019 Stormwater Advisory Committee, said the stormwater fee structure included adding up to three full-time employees to the engineering department.

“Adding these positions to help support the stormwater activities really should not be a surprise,” he told council. “I understand and support your role to look out for the financial needs of the city, but it's also council's responsibility in my mind to make sure that we have water systems, wastewater, stormwater systems that are safe and reliable and achieve our federal and state permit requirements.”

Council also passed on its third reading an ordinance setting the salaries of the public utilities director and assistant utilities director. The director's pay will be between $70,000 and $80,000. The assistant director will receive between $60,000 and $65,000.

Also relating to compensation, council postponed the third reading of Ordinance 2021-40, a proposed compensation model for the city's non-bargaining employees, to the Dec. 13 council meeting. Auditor Terry Scott is working on three-year projected compensation numbers. Council wants to see those numbers before voting on the ordinance.

In other business, council passed as an emergency a measure authorizing the safety-service director to enter into contract for risk reduction measures for the Knox Cattle Company Dam on Yauger Road.

Council also took the following actions:

•Waived the third reading and passed an ordinance annexing 1.85 acres on Upper Gilchrist Road. The parcel is part of the Gilchrist Estates development.

•Waived the three readings and approved an ordinance designating a Senior Probation Officer 1 in municipal court and setting the wages at $24.07 an hour. The city will pay $23.07; the court will pay the additional $1.

•Gave a first reading to a resolution donating 63 acres on Thayer Road to the Knox County Board of Commissioners

•Authorized the transfer of funds

•Gave first readings to legislation appointing Rachel Curtis to the Utilities Commission and Emily Marth to the Civil Service Commission

•Gave a first reading to an ordinance changing police staffing from 10 supervisors and 19 officers to nine supervisors and 20 officers

•Adjourned into executive session to discuss pending or imminent legal action

During the public participation portion of the meeting, Jim Brown gave an update on the activities of the Shade Tree and Beautification Committee. Resident Lauren Heffelfinger spoke about communication between council and the community. Police Chief Robert Morgan presented his quarterly report to council.

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