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City additions in 2016 up to 4

Staff writer

The number of full-time positions to be added to Marion city government in 2016 reached four at Monday’s city council meeting, as council approved the conversion of a part-time refuse department worker to a full-time employee, effective Jan. 1.

The refuse position, which will be filled by Nicholas Lopez, joins the city’s parks and recreation director, a program director, and an additional electrical employee.

“It just allows us to do more work — you get more boots on the ground, you get more work done,” public works director Marty Frederickson said.

The hire was not without opposition from city council, as Jerry Kline voted against the hire.

“How many years have we ran the refuse department with two people, and aren’t we in a hiring freeze?” he asked. “I just feel like you’re taking money away from buying a new refuse truck or fixing an alley.”

Frederickson said the position could be added without requiring additional funding allocations to public works.

“If refuse activities are similar through next year, we could support another full-time employee,” Frederickson said.

The position reduces the need for one part-time position hired seasonally over summer, Frederickson said. The city previously hired two part-time summer workers but recently increased that number to four. Lopez’s hiring takes that number back to three.

City administrator Roger Holter rebutted Kline by issuing support for the additional position, commending Lopez’s individual work ethic and commitment. Lopez filled in when another city employee had a shoulder injury that put him on a worker’s compensation plan.

“He was told it was a seasonal job, that was it,” Holter said. “This gentleman filled in on the trash route, in the cemetery, at the airport, with the sewer. There was no task he wasn’t willing to get involved with. We see this individual as bringing a can-do attitude that we’re trying to foster within the entire operation.

“As city administrator I recommend the addition of this full-time position.”

Eventually, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt moved to approve Lopez’s hiring and councilman Chad Adkins seconded, with the vote passing 4-1.

“This is exactly how we had planned this hiring freeze, so that positions aren’t just filled, they are brought to the council for discussion,” Heitschmidt said. “We appreciate our staff following guidelines on that, and we appreciate Mr. Kline’s comments, too, on being conscious of where we’re at budget-wise.”

Zoning administrator named

City water employee Clayton Garnica was named acting zoning administrator, effective Jan. 2.

Administrator Roger Holter has been acting as zoning administrator since Terry Jones resigned his position in November.

Garnica will receive the $4,000 salary associated with zoning director in addition to his current full-time salary as a plant operator.

Holter initially said the position should take eight to 12 hours a month out of an employee’s regular work schedule. After discussion, it was decided 20 hours would be more realistic for an employee just starting to learn zoning regulations.

Frederickson said Garnica has taken an active interest in the position, already beginning to read zoning regulations to familiarize himself with them.

Holter said he was confident Garnica would fill the role well.

“It would behoove me in no way to put someone in this position and throw them to the wolves,” he said. “It has been too easy in the past to say, Mr. Roger, can you fill in for the time being? Marty too. We both have a vested interest in this.”

Last modified Dec. 10, 2015

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