Council to weigh raises for executives

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

How much is a city commissioner or director worth?

If the Toledo council passes an ordinance tomorrow, the minimum and maximum salaries for most city attorneys and executives would increase by up to $9,500 a year in some cases.

“It would get Toledo more in line with other, comparable cities,” said Marsha Serio, the city’s human resources director.

A top city executive, such as a department head, makes a maximum of $87,500 a year now. The ordinance would raise that to $92,500.

A city attorney at the second level of experience – the L-2 designation – makes up to $70,000. That would go to $79,500.

Ms. Serio said Toledo historically has paid its top executives less than other cities. She said in a survey of comparable positions in Toledo, Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, salaries here were at or near the bottom for most positions.

The proposed salary adjustments will put Toledo “around midscale for Ohio,” she said.

But District 6 Councilwoman Jeanine Perry said comparing Toledo to larger cities like Columbus and Cleveland is inappropriate.

“That’s not comparing apples to apples,” she said. “We’ve got to take a closer look. I think money is only one of many factors in attracting competent, talented people.”

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has argued that the relatively low pay has hurt Toledo in luring top talent to city management. He cited the $87,500-a-year salary ceiling last month when he outlined the difficulties in hiring a chief of staff for the mayor’s office.

Other items on the council’s agenda tomorrow:

* A repeal of the ordinance allowing a zone change for a controversial Home Depot store on Secor Road just north of Central Avenue. Opponents of the store say the home improvement store would create swarming traffic and hurt the neighborhood. They have sued the city for what they called irregularities in the way the city pushed through the rezoning.

On March 17, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates ruled that the rezoning process was conducted in a “potentially unlawful manner” and temporarily blocked the store’s construction.

The city law department has asked the ordinance be repealed so the city plan commission and the council’s zoning and planning committee can take the matter up again. This time, he said, the matter will proceed “in accordance with applicable statutes and ordinances.”

* A proposal to raise a number of fines, including double parking, to be raised from $20 to $25; leaving your key in the ignition of an unattended vehicle, from $7 to $20, and “other illegal parking”, $15 to $20.

Those who don’t pay their fines within 15 days would find the price tag even higher under the proposed ordinance. Double parking would leap to $35 while leaving your key in the ignition would go to $30.

* A proposal to raise green fees at the city’s three public golf courses. American Golf Corp., which manages the courses at Detwiler, Ottawa, and Collins parks, has asked that fees be increased by up to $2 within the next year.

At council’s last meeting, Mrs. Perry asked her colleagues to withhold action on the fee hike until the city and American Golf showed her, in writing, how they planned to repair a fence near Summit Street at Detwiler Park.

Mrs. Perry said the fence is covered with overgrowth, rusted away in some parts, and falling apart.

She met with American Golf officials Thursday and is to receive the written plan today. If she does, she said she will support going ahead on the fee vote tomorrow.

* A proposed resolution asking the Ohio Department of Liquor Control to hold a hearing on the liquor license of the La Garza Ballroom, 1623GF1*2Broadway. The license is up for renewal, and Toledo police consider the club one of the city’s most dangerous. Events there generated a total of 80 police reports in 1996 and 1997.

* In a related matter, the council will consider a proposed ordinance to make it easier for the city to revoke dance hall licenses in Toledo.

The broadened powers would allow officials to take away a license if a dance hall is a “source of disorderly or criminal conduct” or “has substantially interfered with public peace or good order in the neighborhood.”

The law says a license can be revoked only if criminal activity occurs in the establishment.