Proposed changes to the city’s certified building division and the community development division hit a snag at Tuesday night’s Mansfield City Council meeting.
Sharon May, the human resources director, and Marc Milliron, manager of building codes and permits, appeared by Zoom video to go over the proposed changes.
May called it a “reorganizing” needed because an employee left last year. The city could not fill the chief building official’s position.
“This is to address an immediate need,” May said. “It does not burn their existing budget.”
Milliron said the moves would create uniformity within the department by having employees undergo more training in other areas.
Zader, Davenport question proposed moves
Council members Stephanie Zader and Alomar Davenport questioned the proposed moves.
Zader contends the city’s two housing inspectors are already “overburdened.”
“It is the No. 1 complaint that I get from citizens,” she said of dilapidated houses.
Zader called the proposed moves “piecemeal.”
“We need to look at the whole picture,” she said. “Don’t put a Band-Aid on something that needs stitches.”
Milliron said the proposed changes include adding a housing inspector.
Zader said the city needs a housing inspector for each of the six wards instead of adding responsibilities to the existing inspectors, prompting Mayor Tim Theaker to interject.
“Utopia would be that we would have one for each ward,” he said. “The budget is a deterrent for doing something like that.”
Zader countered, “All the more reason to look at the department as a whole.”
“I think we are a very reactive city instead of a proactive city,” the councilwoman said.
Councilwoman Kim Moton proposed delaying the vote until the next meeting on Oct. 4. Members unanimously passed the motion. They had discussed the proposed changes at their last meeting.
Council members honor the late Butch Jefferson
In other business, council added the name Walden “Butch” Jefferson to Johns Avenue, between Harker Street and Longview Avenue, in honor of the longtime city councilman who died in January at age 72.
A graduate of Mansfield Senior, Jefferson served four terms on city council, representing the fourth ward. He also served during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm and retired from AK Steel.
“We think of Butch as the quintessential councilperson,” Councilman Aurelio Diaz said. “He always fought for, not just for the North End, but the community at large.”
Councilman Phil Scott was a longtime colleague of Jefferson. He noted that they were often on the same page, but at other times, they butted heads.
He said on Jefferson’s last night as a councilman, his fellow members wanted to honor him, but he refused.
“Butch is probably up there saying, ‘Why are you guys doing this?”’ Scott said of Tuesday’s recognition.
Council also approved accepting two grants from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services for the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program. One grant is for $123,500, the other for $130,418.
The city police department will use the first grant for the Richland County License Plate Reader Data Project. The second grant will go for program costs associated with violent crime suppression in specific areas of Mansfield and other northern cities.
Council considering snow blower for airport
Council members are considering buying a new front mount snow blower and chassis from MB Companies Inc. for Mansfield Lahm Airport. They held the bill to caucus only.
The cost would be $786,151, and the city would make annual payments.
Mike Moore, airport operations supervisor, said the money is included in the budget. He called the new piece of equipment essential.
“If we don’t have it, it would be impossible to complete the task,” Moore said.
Councilwoman Cheryl Meier asked if the new blower would be bigger than the current one. Moore said it would.
“The one we have is undersized for what we need,” he said.
Noting there is a wait time for delivery, Moore said the city hopes to have the new blower for the winter season of 2023.
Because of the cost, Davenport wanted to give the bill a second reading to allow residents to give their opinions instead of voting Tuesday.
In other business related to the airport, council approved accepting a federal grant to enter contracts to rehabilitate apron “A” and certain taxiways and taxi lanes.
“It’s all the hangar area,” Moore said, adding Shelley and Sands made the low bid.
There is a local match of 5%. Christopher Brown, assistant law director, said the money was already appropriated.
Members approved the bill unanimously.
“I believe this is very much needed,” Scott said.
City buying ambulance for fire department
Council did authorize buying an ambulance from Penn Care Inc. for the city fire department. The cost is $264,092.80.
“The fire department has come in well below the number we approved,” Davenport said. “It will allow us to redistribute those funds elsewhere.”
Chief Steve Strickling said it would be the department’s sixth such vehicle. The delivery time is 650 days.
In other business, council members:
● Honored Detective Dave Scheurer upon his retirement from the police department.
● Expressed support for the renewal levy for Mansfield City Schools that will be on the Nov. 8 ballots. The levy, which is not a new tax, would generate $7.9 million a year for the district.
● Agreed to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation to do inspections of the city’s 28 bridges. City Engineer Bob Bianchi said the inspections are free, but legislation is required for ODOT to participate.