Huber council members debate changes to staff organization

HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights council members squabbled amongst themselves and with city leaders during Monday’s regular meeting prior to voting on two proposals that relate to staff reorganization and salaries.

A resolution to establish an amended organizational chart outlining staffing levels was rejected in a 4-3 vote, with dissenting council members citing concern over the proposal to change the “parks manager” position to “parks technician.”

In the proposed chart, the parks technician position falls within the public works department under the public works manager. In the current organizational chart, approved last November, the parks manager falls within the parks and recreation department, above the YMCA liaison and seasonal laborer positions, as well as the senior center coordinator.

The current pay scale for the parks manager position caps annual earnings at $82,576, with a minimum salary of $48,751.25. The pay scale associated with the proposed parks technician position caps earnings at $77,319.22 annually, with a minimum salary of $55,231.07.

Prior to the vote, council heard from Huber Heights resident Vince King, who serves as chair of the parks and recreation board. King asked what this change would mean for the community and the programming currently managed by the parks manager.

“Instead of just having one person, why can’t we have an entire department focused on parks and recreation?” King asked council. “... I encourage you to really get an understanding of why we need to make this change, and how this will not only affect our community, but that individual and their family, as well.”

Councilman Glenn Otto said he agreed with King.

“We had made a move to bolster our parks system by putting in a parks manager (and) I had hoped that would lead to an actual parks department (comparable) to the size of our city,” Otto said. “I’m curious, as well, are we folding it back into public works completely or does it still stand as a park system?”

Mayor Jeff Gore responded, stating the change was being proposed to promote efficiency and added that Interim City Manager Bryan Chodkowski had addressed the issue during a recent work session.

“(I’m) a little frustrated that this type of conversation didn’t come up at the actual work session where we talk about this kind of stuff ... nobody said anything at work session,” Gore said.

Chodkowski also responded by reading an email he sent to all members of council that stated the reasons behind this proposed change, which include maintenance and management issues, as well as operational efficiency. The parks department often relies on public works maintenance equipment and staff, which has led to operational conflicts, Chodkowski said.

“Locating this position under the public works division should substantially reduce these work conflicts and increase operational efficiency,” the email said.

Chodkowski said the YMCA is planning to increase programming outreach in Huber Heights next year, which would alleviate parks manager responsibilities related to programming and facility reservation. This would allow the parks technician to focus more on working in the field.

Councilman Don Webb expressed support for the change, noting that it would allow for better communication and maintenance planning.

“I don’t see it as a step backwards, I see it as a more efficient utilization because the people who take care of the parks are in public works,” he said. “To me, we are eliminating this loop around that our parks manager had to go through to get things done.”

Council members Nancy Byrge, Kate Baker, Richard Shaw and Webb voted in favor of the legislation, and members Otto, Lyons, and Anita Kitchen voted no. A piece of legislation must receive at least five yes votes in order to pass.

In a subsequent vote, council unanimously approved a proposed pay scale update after a lengthy debate. Some members of council suggested the proposal should be tabled until the organizational chart is passed.

However, Chodkowski said the legislation needed to be approved sooner, adding that changes can be made retroactively to match any organizational chart changes, if needed.

“We may have some issues processing and making sure that employees who are eligible for increases get those increases in a timely manner,” he said.

Council also voted to move approval of the 2023 budget proposal to a third reading to allow for any final adjustments to be made prior to adoption. The next council meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 12.

About the Author