Hubbard council, mayor at odds over recent decisions

The mayor said council is overstepping its authority.



HUBBARD — Mayor Arthur U. Magee and some department heads have taken issue with directives from council that they say will have an adverse affect on city operations and may cost more money than necessary.

The mayor said the directives concerning overtime and the possible hiring of a full-time engineer exceed the scope of what council is in place to do.

Council, he said, is attempting to use money as a means of controlling the administration.

“Council is supposed to legislate and appropriate, that’s all. They want to run everything,” he said.

Councilman Patton Gilliland, unhappy with the amount of money spent on engineering services, is putting together a committee to assess the feasibility of hiring a full-time engineer for the city.

He hopes to begin a search for an engineer by early next year.

The city spent $139,000 in 2006 contracting with MS Consultants of Youngstown for engineering services. An additional $99,500 has been spent in 2007.

Gilliland has said the city could likely hire an engineer for $60,000 a year plus benefits.

Against the hiring

Magee said he is not interested in looking at other engineering firms or hiring a full-time engineer.

He said city officials closely follow the work done by MS Consultants and do not find any major faults.

“They can’t force me to hire anyone. I am not trying to be hard-headed with them, but we have a good engineering firm. I am not unhappy with MS Consultants,” the mayor said.

Magee also said it is debatable whether the city will actually save any money by hiring a full-time engineer.

“We have to have engineers on everything we do,” he said. “We are not going to get one engineer to do all of this for $60,000 a year.”

Pat Camuso, water and sewer department superintendent, and Paul Collins, street department superintendent, said council also would be ignoring the personal relationship the city has with MS Consultants and the consulting firm’s vast knowledge of the city.

Collins said it would take someone else several years to gain the same level of knowledge about the city.

Other criticisms

Council members also have called for a 10-percent scale back in overtime used in various city departments.

Councilwoman Lisha Baumiller disagreed with the order.

Magee said it is difficult to cut overtime for emergency purposes without drastically affecting the level of service to the public.

“It’s not overtime for no reason. It’s customer call-out overtime. If there isn’t something broke, they don’t go out. They don’t just go out looking for stuff [on overtime],” he said.

The mayor also said he wasn’t pleased with council’s decision not to award a contract to Crump Inc., the low bidder for the tearing down of the old police station.

He said Crump has been the lowest bidder in two bid processes concerning the old station, and council’s refusal to award the contract could land the city in a lawsuit.

Magee said the board of control — the mayor, law director and finance director — is looking to award the contract, but council’s inaction on the issue has tied the administration’s hands.

The Crump issue went to a third reading at council’s last meeting.

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