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Perrysburg OK's plan to redefine city posts

Perrysburg city council approved a plan last week to establish the post of city engineer and reorganize the duties of two top administrative positions.

Doug Dariano, currently deputy service director, will become city engineer effective in January in a move that may give less city engineering work contracted to outside firms, Mayor Jody Holbrook said.

As the city engineer, Mr. Dariano will review building and infrastructure plans for development, perform inspections, and work with the city planning and zoning division. A nine-year employee, he will no longer oversee the city street division.

Jon Eckel, a 24-year city veteran who has been superintendent of the city's waste water treatment plant, will become deputy service safety director. He will take over the day-to-day job of running the city street division in addition to supervision of the treatment plant.

James Bagdonas, the city's service-safety director since 1982, was named acting city administrator. Council will decide during the next six months whether to name him permanently to the position.

“[Mr. Dariano] spent 75 per cent of his time doing engineering duties,'' Councilman Mark Hummer, chairman of the personnel committee, said. “We wanted to relieve [Mr. Bagdonas] of engineering duties so he could do more as a city administrator.''

More responsibility has been assigned to Mr. Bagdonas who for all practical purposes has been the city administrator while overseeing police and fire operations.

The law and finance divisions will be added to Mr. Bagdonas's duties. Those units had reported directly to the mayor. He will continue to oversee police and fire division operations.

However, he eventually will lose human resource and planning and zoning duties when the city makes a decision to hire a human resource director, a position established about six months ago but still unfilled.

Councilman Hummer said he believes that Mr. Bagdonas is well qualified to be city administrator, while acknowledging the city has received several job applications for the position.

“City council feels [Mr. Bagdonas] has really been serving [as city administrator] for the the last several years,'' he said. “We feel we would be remiss if we didn't offer it to him first.''

Mr. Bagdonas will serve in an acting capacity for six months and will be evaluated by a bipartisan committee of council before a decision is made on a permanent appointment.

Mayor Holbrook said he is instituting evaluations for about 14 other city division heads and members of the executive staff. Until now the evaluation process was not formalized, he said.

“I didn't think it was fair that we don't tell people they are doing a bad job or doing a good job and then surprise them,'' he said.

With the promotion, Mr. Eckel will be paid $75,400 a year, compared to his old salary of $70,200 a year. The salaries of Mr. Bagdonas and Mr. Dariano will remain unchanged. Annual wage increases previously approved by council will put Mr. Bagdonas's salary at $87,620 a year, effective next month, and Mr. Dariano's salary at $75,400 a year.

In other business, council agreed to pay $217,000 to acquire 2.9 acres on Elm Street south of Grassy Creek owned by the Perrysburg City Schools. The acreage, near Toth Elementary School, will be made part of Municipal Park, the site of the city swimming pool at Elm and Silver Maple Drive.

When the school district acquired land for a new high school several years ago, it incurred a binding obligation to donate land to satisfy a city open space requirement.

The school district proposed deeding to the city about four acres adjacent to the new high school. The city balked and negotiations over the issue ensued.

In the agreement that was reached, the city agreed to pay $276,000 for the land, minus $59,000 the school district owes the city to satisfy the terms of the open space requirement, Mr. Bagdonas said. The value of the land was determined on the basis of several independent appraisals.

Council also agreed to allow a second survey on how to improve the city's TARTA bus service to be distributed to about 7,000 Perrysburg residents in the next city newsletter. Officials indicated little support for it two weeks ago.

Phil Caron, Perrysburg's representative to TARTA's board of trustees, urged council to include a shorter, 15-question survey in the newsletter expected to be mailed in January.

Mayor Holbrook initially questioned the merits of doing another survey but council's health, sanitation, and public utilities committee later recommended approval. The TARTA-backed survey results in October were inconclusive, with most people neither having strong opinions for, nor against, the current service, Mr. Caron said.

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