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Peninsula seeks new part-time road employee

6/13/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Peninsula Village Council at its June 10 meeting authorized advertising for a part-time Road Department employee to replace Charles “Skip” Ausberk, whom Councilman Brian Schall reported has resigned.

Ausberk was a part-time village employee until June 2012, when Council agreed to hire him full-time at a rate of $12 per hour. As a full-time employee, Ausberk received health insurance benefits.

Council, with a split vote and one member absent, voted in April to once again make Ausberk a part-time employee. At Council’s May meeting, several citizens appeared to defend Ausberk. They protested Council’s action and rebuked it for open-session discussions of Ausberk’s job performance and employment status.

Council will advertise the 24-hour-per-week position, which pays $12 per hour.

Council also had a third reading and approved legislation placing a 1 percent income tax increase on the Nov. 5 ballot. The proposal would allow the village to capture an additional 1 percent of income tax most residents already pay to other municipalities. Only about 20 percent of village wage earners would pay more in income tax should the proposal pass, said Mayor Doug Mayer.

In other news, Mayer told Council interviews continue with two candidates for village police chief. He said he hopes a decision can be made by June 14.

The village has been without a full-time chief since Council fired Chief Kevin James McCue in 2009 on a recommendation by former Mayor Richard Fisher. McCue sued the village, and a settlement was filed with the court in September 2011, but not signed by the village until Mayer took office in 2012. Under the settlement agreement, the village will pay McCue $120,000 and fund his pension through June 1, 2014. The village has been seeking a full-time chief since March 2012. A candidate selected in the first search was unable to successfully complete prehire testing.

Council also had a third reading of legislation to purchase and obtain financing for a parking station. However, Councilwoman Dee Holody did not make a motion to approve the two issues, saying she preferred to wait until the July meeting, when the full Council was likely to be present. Councilman Charles Moyer was absent.

The parking station, an alternative to parking meters, would require visitors to use a debit or credit card to prepay for parking in 60 spaces in the business district of the village. Implementation of parking stations have been successful in other small local municipalities, Holody said. Council earlier said it plans to exempt village residents from paid parking.

The subject did, however, spark spirited comments from members of the audience during the citizens’ participation portion of the meeting. If the legislation is approved in July, Holody said the parking station would not be operational until September. Holody said Council still needs to iron out some operational procedures, such as whether there would be an introduction period with no enforcement of parking violations, how often police officers would monitor the village’s 60 parking spaces for violators and institution of a parking bureau that would allow the village to keep any fines paid by violators.

Diane Seskes and Patty Tesmer both protested implementation of the parking station, which Holody has estimated could conservatively generate $48,000 per year in parking fees for the cash-strapped village. Seskes and Tesmer each said they thought Council should have every detail worked out before the purchase of the $15,000 equipment. Seskes and Tesmer both also suggested leasing the equipment in lieu of financing the purchase.

Holody said leasing was an option, but the leasing company would take a large percentage of fees collected. Holody said the village could sell the equipment in the unlikely event the parking station did not generate revenues projected.

Seskes presented to Council a letter from the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce requesting Council delay implementation of the parking station until a “comprehensive study” could be completed.

Holody said Council had studied the proposal extensively and needed to act.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for July 8 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Village Hall, at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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