By DENISE GRANT
Despite a fiery committee debate about the work hours of Findlay’s new safety director position, City Council voted this week to fund the salary without further discussion.
The vote Wednesday was 8-1, with Councilwoman Holly Frische, R-1, opposed.
In a meeting of council’s Appropriations Committee on June 29, debate about the position became a shouting match as Frische questioned whether the job merits a full-time salary, and Councilman Grant Russel, R-At-Large, defended the job’s pay.
The five-member committee, however, eventually voted to recommend the transfer of funds needed to pay Paul Schmelzer’s salary, along with $10,000 to cover the department’s miscellaneous expenses.
Committee members include Ronald Monday, R-3; John Harrington, R-5; Tom Klein, R-4; Jeff Wobser, R-At-Large; and Russel.
Frische, who sat in on the meeting, is not a committee member.
Schmelzer, who held the combined service-safety position since 2012, kept the safety director job when his old position was divided in May.
His salary this year, while holding both positions, was $149,489. His salary as safety director is $75,000.
Since the position was divided, Schmelzer, an engineer, has been doing some private consulting work on the side.
His timecards, obtained by The Courier through an open records request, show Schmelzer hasn’t worked a 40-hour week since the positions were split. Government employees are required by law to account for 40 hours of work each week as full-time workers. Mayor Lydia Mihalik has signed off on 41 hours of administrative leave to make up the shortfall over the last six weeks.
Findlay Auditor Jim Staschiak said it is within the mayor’s authority to grant the administrative leave. However, he questioned the continued use of administrative leave to adjust Schmelzer’s timecards.
Staschiak said use of administrative leave to account for the missed hours each week means Schmelzer isn’t using vacation or sick time, which government employees tend to stockpile. He also said Schmelzer is continuing to accrue both vacation and sick time, based on receiving a paycheck for 80 hours of work over two weeks.
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