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Published: Friday, 10/2/2009

Finkbeiner defends hiring son-in-law; job filled in wake of layoffs

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Despite dozens of city employees laid off this year because of a multimillion-dollar city deficit, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's son-in-law was still able to find his way into a taxpayer-funded job.

Mr. Finkbeiner yesterday defended the hiring of Tim Burns as a temporary supervisor. He is paid more than the hourly rate of other comparable full-time city supervisors.

Mr. Burns, a Perrysburg resident married to the mayor's daughter, Kate, was hired in June at $25 an hour to supervise a seasonal crew in the city parks department.

Although he technically works for employment agency Job1USA - a longtime city contractor that provides the city temporary and seasonal workers - the city pays the salary along with a 22 percent markup cost the firm charges.

"Tim Burns is a temporary employee hired through an outside agency and is not a city employee," according to a statement from the mayor's office.

"He has worked as such this summer in the Parks Department doing maintenance of the city infrastructure including parks, boulevards, and triangles," the statement said.

"Mr. Burns is a supervisor of a seasonal crew of employees keeping the city clean during the warm weather months."

Mr. Burns was hired in June, shortly after the May 1 layoff of 75 police officers - during a period when a city hiring freeze was supposed to be in effect - and after dozens of nonsafety forces' employees already had been laid off.

Those people could have been recalled to fill the vacant position.

Mr. Burns also was hired before the Ohio Supreme Court in August officially killed Toledo's residency requirements for city employees - something the mayor vehemently enforced. Mayor Finkbeiner previously fired employees for not complying with the city's requirement to live within the city limits.

Mr. Finkbeiner announced in June that the city no longer would enforce its residency requirements after the high-court ruling that month in a case brought by Lima and Akron that such mandates are unconstitutional.

Also in June, Mr. Finkbeiner reduced the salaries of some nonunion employees and ordered them to work a 32-hour week, the equivalent of a 20 percent pay cut. That put some of his lower-level office staff near or below $25 an hour.

Mr. Finkbeiner in June also ordered about 25 nonunion staff members who have retired and were rehired and draw both pensions and salaries to take 40 percent pay cuts.

Although the city pays no health insurance for Mr. Burns, his hourly rate is close to some full-time city employees with similar supervisory positions, and in some cases, higher.

Nanette Austin, a foreman in the city's refuse department, who has worked for the city since 1987, is paid $23.64 an hour, while Barbara Lane, a superintendent in the parks department, who has worked for the city since 1983, is paid $27.89 an hour.

The city has used Job1USA to employ other people this year while full-time employees have been on layoff.

Among them are Don Monroe, senior development specialist for the city, who the mayor has publicly said is a friend, and Mike White, Marina District project engineer, who was the mayor's campaign treasurer.

Mr. Monroe is paid $40 per hour through the employment agency and the city pays the firm's markup costs on top of that.

Although Mr. Monroe's hours were reduced with other city employees this summer, he has been recently offered to return to a 40-hour week.

Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, earlier this year said the city is able to save money by hiring through the employment agency by avoiding the cost of health insurance, retirement benefits, vacation time, and other fringe benefits.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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