By LOU WILIN
The decades-old discussion about whether the Findlay service-safety director job is too much for one person reached a milestone Tuesday.
“I can’t do everything anymore. It’s just worn me out,” Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said before Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Council gave a first reading to an ordinance that would allow Schmelzer to focus on half his current job, becoming the new director of safety. He would oversee police and fire protection.
The same ordinance would create a new job of director of public service. The city administration’s plan is to put Brian Thomas, an engineer for the city, in that job.
Schmelzer is ready to share the workload.
“It’s just a lot to do it all. A lot of years with a lot of hours and a lot of committees and a lot of hats,” Schmelzer said before the meeting. “I’ve been pleased to do that and the experience has been great, but I’m ready to share some of that responsibility.”
In doing that, he will take a pay cut. His salary this year would total $149,489 as service-safety director. The pay range for the safety director would be $59,878 to $99,999.
Schmelzer said he also plans on offering private engineering consulting services.
Mayor Lydia Mihalik, who hired Schmelzer when she first took office in 2012, said the change will enable her administration to focus on safety. The safety director could focus on planning the proper size of the police and fire departments and their budgets, she said.
In fact, a couple of City Council candidates have made safety an issue on the campaign stump.
Council President Jim Slough, a Republican running for the 4th Ward seat, has vowed to fight a “disturbing pattern” of murders, home break-ins, drug overdoses and deaths.
Third Ward council candidate Dina Ostrander, a Republican, also wants to improve citizen safety by reducing the city’s drug problem.
“We still have a lot of room for improvement,” Mihalik told council on Tuesday. “There’s still a lot of focus that could be made on the safety side.”
Mihalik said splitting the service-safety director job will save the city money this year and likely next year.
The debate about whether the roles should be split dates back to at least the 1980s under former Mayor Keith Romick and Service-Safety Director Dave Wobser. It continued under former Mayor John Stozich and Service-Safety Director Robert Ruse.
Former Mayor Tony Iriti split the roles, and so did his successor, Mayor Pete Sehnert.
Mihalik combined the roles and hired Schmelzer to do them both in 2012.
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