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Burton administrator review hits the road
Burton administrator review hits the road
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Burton Village officials will look outside the village to determine whether an administrator is a needed to guide the community into the future.
An eight-member committee, appointed by Mayor Thomas Blair Sr., agreed last week to visit or call on other municipalities to learn about their use of village administrators.
The municipalities to be reviewed are Roaming Shores, Hiram, Craig Beach, Andover, Lowellville, Orwell, Geneva-on-the-Lake and New Middletown. The communities were chosen because they are similar in population to Burton's approximately 1,400 residents. The smallest of those chosen has a population of approximately 1,239, while the largest is at 1,682.
Each committee member will take one community to gather information about the use of village administrators.
Councilwoman Linda Swaney asked that a standard form of questions be created so that each committee member gathers the same type of information.
Officials will verify the salaries of those working as administrators as well as when and why the communities switched to an administrator. Committee members also will ask how that switch has worked for the communities and whether any problems have arisen because of the switch. They also will ask whether any duties have been given to the administrator beyond those given under the Ohio Revised Code.
Village Fiscal Officer Christopher Paquette provided the committee with a summary of the duties of a village administrator as outlined in state law.
The committee, made up of members of Village Council and the village's board of public affairs, was formed about three weeks ago at the request of Councilman Craig Ronyak.
Mr. Blair said the committee should work to educate, inform and look into the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a village administrator. If that move is made, the board of public affairs that has served the village since 1927 will be disbanded.
Mr. Ronyak said one of the most critical of the issues to be looked at in considering the switch is the economic impact -- how much it will cost. Mr. Ronyak said the village now is paying $3,600 annually for the board of public affairs' services.
Mr. Blair said another issue that must be considered is what the switch may bring to the village, such as greater efficiency or cost-effectiveness.
Mr. Ronyak got support two weeks ago on a motion to send the issue to the ballot in November 2011. He said such a drastic change in government should be decided by the people.
Councilwoman Dianne Lillibridge, who voted against the motion, said she did not think the issue should be considered for the ballot until officials had looked at the pros and cons of the issue.
Mrs. Lillibridge said it appeared that council was abdicating its responsibilities by passing the issue onto the voters. "We're elected to make decisions," she said. "What are we doing."
Mr. Ronyak repeated his position that a change of "this magnitude" should be decided by the residents.
Former Council President and newly appointed board of public affairs member Judith Beaumier said she agreed, saying the issue was as significant as an annexation issue that went before voters in the past.
As for cost, Councilman Jeff Coleman repeated his contention that the village could reduce staffing at the waste-water treatment plant. That would free up money for the administrator position.
Mr. Ronyak asked if the treatment plant had more workers than needed, why staff reductions were not done previously. And, he said, even if a reduction is needed, should the village be in a hurry to find some way to spend the money it saves by the reduction?
"I don't feel the need to spend the money right away," he said.
Board of public affairs member Curt Johnson said the village once used two people in the service department to handle all duties, except mowing the park and cemeteries. He questioned whether the village was "overloaded" now with six people in the service department.
Mr. Ronyak said even if the village could save with further staff reductions, he was not sure the village should use the savings for a village administrator.
The group agreed that looking at the economic impacts of the position should wait until they have finished their review of the various communities.
At the completion of the committee's work, the findings will be made available to the public, possibly through a series of meetings.
Mrs. Lillibridge said she had her doubts as to whether the public would take the time to learn. She said people will be most interested in what it is going to cost them, but not much else. She said she worked the polling places and believes that people "don't care a whole lot about what goes on."
Mrs. Swaney said officials have to at least give residents that opportunity.
"It's an opportunity to reach out and bring them into the process," she said.
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