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Council considers contract for planning consultant

Planning consultant may be retained at up to $75,000

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider legislation Wednesday to retain its planning consultant for another year at a rate of up to $75,000.

Based on discussion at Monday’s council finance committee meeting, the contract is expected to be approved Wednesday.

The professional services contract is with Hunter Morrison, who has served as the city’s planning consultant since August 2019.

The contract calls for Morrison to be paid $75 per hour, up to $75,000 for the year, retroactive to Jan. 1.

While the city is already two months into this contract, it is acting quicker than it did last year when the administration didn’t ask council to approve Morrison’s 2020 contract until its May 22 meeting.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th Ward, pointed out the rate of pay is for about 20 hours per week.

Nikki Posterli, the director of the city’s community planning and economic development department and the mayor’s chief of staff, said Morrison works full-time for the city.

Reached after the meeting, Posterli said: “Hunter bills us for 20 hours. However, we are getting much more. He is constantly working on behalf of the city throughout the day and is on call whenever we need him during the day, evening or weekend.”

Morrison’s fee is paid through federal funds, Posterli said.

Morrison initially was hired for $75 per hour up to $25,000 for a year in August 2019 with an option for a second year under those same dollar amounts.

Posterli also wanted to hire a city planner, but that was never approved by council and finally voted down Feb. 17.

Instead, the city has used Morrison’s services and renewed his contract last year for $75,000 — the same as what council will consider Wednesday.

Besides Davis asking about Morrison’s hours, the only other questions Monday came from Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward. She asked about how 2020 went with Morrison and the planning goals for this year.

Among the goals are analysis of the city’s corridors, a housing strategy, planning for the city’s parks and McKelvey Lake, assisting with the CPED organizational chart, working with the Western Reserve Transit Authority on transit studies, coordinating land for rezoning purposes, restructuring the city land bank and a plan for the Phelps Street pedestrian mall, Posterli said.

Part of Morrison’s responsibilities include running the meetings of the city’s design review committee and planning commission / board of zoning appeals.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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