Monday, Sep 26, 2016
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City council OKs new chiefs for 2 departments

Toledo City Council approved the appointment of two department heads Tuesday, both candidates from within the Bell administration.

Chris Zervos, acting director of the department of inspection since October, became the department's permanent head. Ellen Grachek, a senior attorney with the city's law department, was appointed human resources director.

Mr. Zervos secured his appointment in a 11-1 vote, overcoming initial doubts expressed by some council members about his suitability for the job. District 4 Councilman Paula Hicks-Hudson, who led opposition to Mr. Zervos' appointment when it was proposed several weeks ago, remained the lone dissenter.

Mr. Zervos will be paid $77,500 a year and will oversee 42 staff members charged with enforcing construction regulations and property maintenance in the city. He has worked for the city since 2006, starting out as manager of building inspection when it was a division within the department of neighborhoods.

Mr. Zervos supervised operations for the Summit County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in Akron. He replaces Bill Brennan who left the city for a job with the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo late last year.

"I think it's important for my department that they have a full director," Mr. Zervos said after the vote.

The new director said he will continue to expand "Spring Sweeps," a program his department launched in March to encourage homeowners to maintain their properties.

He said he also plans to acquire software that will give residents online access to permitting, demolition and code enforcement activities managed by the department.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson bumped heads with Mr. Zervos in January after he pushed back against her request to hire more inspectors, saying he needed more efficient computer software, not additional employees. He later relented and said Tuesday he is in the process of hiring two inspectors.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson also criticized the responsiveness of Mr. Zervos and his department to council and constituent concerns.

Councilman Tyrone Riley, however, said his concerns about Mr. Zervos' responsiveness had been adequately addressed by the director.

Ms. Grachek's appointment received unanimous council support. As senior attorney, Ms. Gracheck has been at the front line of the Bell administration's often contentious labor negotiations, which have resulted in a slew of concessionary agreements over the past few months.

She replaces Peg Wallace, who retired.

Ms. Grachek will be paid $85,000 annually

Additionally, council approved $15.4 million for the city's aging water-treatment plant, including $9.2 million to replace the crumbling roof. The money will also pay for construction of a chlorine facility, pump parts, vehicles and chemical testing equipment.

David Welch, public utilities director, said the expenditures are possible because of a 9 percent water rate increase approved last year that allowed the city to secure bond money.

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