By Julie Ann Madden
The Akron councilors started of the new year by making several employee changes at their Jan. 14 meeting.
First, they unanimously approved paying interim City Clerk Nicolle DeRocher $32 per hour in the time period before City Clerk Melea Nielsen comes on board.
DeRocher’s last official day as city clerk on the city’s payroll was Dec. 31. She explained she’d been asked to come up with what her salary had been plus the benefits she was no longer receiving. She told the council her wage had been $21.50 an hour and her benefits came up to $11.24 an hour. The total was $32.74 an hour.
DeRocher told the council they could consider reducing the wage when she begins as a city clerk trainer, which is a position she thought would last about a year and also include some marketing and economic development work for the city.
It was noted her new position would average about 10 hours a week with more during budgeting and annual reporting work when she is training Nielsen and less at other times.
Councilor Barb Johnson made the motion to pay DeRocher the $32 an hour, omitting the 74 cents per hour, with the position and salary to be reviewed on July 1, and Councilor Sharon Frerichs seconded it. The vote was unanimous, 4-0, with Councilor Denise Loutsch-Beitelspacher absent.
Nielsen’s first day on the job was this past Monday, Jan. 20. Her salary is $38,000 with a six-month review.
Next, the council unanimously approved changing Public Works Director Gary Horton’s job title to “City Administrator.”
This was at the request of Akron Mayor Harold Higman Jr. who told the council Horton’s “work is exceptional, he’s on top of everything and really guides the city and does a lot behind the scenes.”
Higman didn’t want the job title change to affect the mayor and council’s authority. Therefore, Horton’s job duties would not change but Higman did suggest the council adjust Horton’s salary to reflect the new job title when the new fiscal year starts, which is July 1.
Horton agreed to the title change.
Councilor Sharon Frerichs noted some grant applications required a city administrator’s name.
Councilor Bob Frerichs made the motion to change Horton’s title to City Administrator and Councilor David Irizarry seconded it. The vote was unanimous, 4-0.
Finally, they formed a Budget Committee to come up with the city’s 2014-2015 budget.
Councilors Bob Frerichs and Irizarry volunteered to be the committee and meet with city officials.
The budget deadline for submission to state officials is March 15.
In other business, the Council:
• Unanimously approved changing the rental lease agreement between Back on the Rack consignment shop owners and the city. Co-owner Jessica Minor’s name was removed from the lease as she is no longer part of the business.
• Unanimously approved Akron Jo’s Cafe’s liquor license renewal.
• Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of an alley strip of land to David Allen.
• Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the annexation of the Mitch DeRocher property into the city’s limits.