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Marietta City Council welcomes Wark, tables Resolution 50

Public Works Director Jim Wark is not a new face to city employees, though today is only his fourth day officially in the new position. Wark joined the city after working via contract through Pickering Associates for several years. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Marietta City Council welcomed the administration’s newest addition Thursday.

But, Jim Wark, of Devola, is not an unfamiliar face to city officials, nor the rank and file.

“Jim’s first day was Tuesday,” explained Mayor Josh Schlicher following the meeting.

Wark, formerly a contracted attachment to the city through Pickering Associates, is now the city’s new Public Works Director.

The position was created this fall in a reorganization of city laborforce as authorized by council.

Schlicher noted that the newly created public works department, which combined streets, public utilities, public facilities and fleet maintenance, is also undergoing some shuffling as retirements of some senior staff members approach.

“There will be a few more shifts before the end of the year,” he said.

In the 10 months Schlicher has served in the executive branch, rather than his former position as president of council, the mayor has added two new management positions to the table of organization with the creation of the budget and procurement director position and the additional title of human resources director added to the existing assistant safety-service director role.

Regular business

Resolution 50, concerning the fiscal year 2021 budget for the federally-awarded Community Development Block Grant, was moved to the table by Finance Chairman Mike Scales on Thursday, with unanimous support from the remaining voting legislators.

Scales noted following the meeting that he will not push forward the budgetary resolution for the CDBG funds until the city administration has properly conducted the federally-required consolidated planning process for multi-year needs assessment and priority identification.

“We’re not going to do anything … I talked to Ms. (Sherri) Hess (city auditor), and whenever they want to go forward, when everybody’s happy and they all say it’s right and everybody’s in agreement we’ll go ahead with it,” said Scales.

Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf also shared her concerns over the resolution’s creation Thursday during the meeting.

“I want to extend my appreciation to my fellow councilors for tabling Resolution 50 and preventing the need for an audit. For months members of council have been telling the development department that the planning process for the Consolidated Plan has been improper,” she noted.

Without naming Development Director Mike Gulliver, she said she has “lost faith in the willingness or the capability of the development department” to ensure federal guidelines are properly followed.

“Now that we have successfully gotten this improper planning process paused, I am again requesting the administration reconsider who they have given the responsibility to steward these federal funds,” she said. “If they are unwilling to find someone qualified to handle those responsibilities then I ask council to consider the risk we are taking by not intervening and considering the option we have before us to redesign the process, which will most likely result in devoting more money to development projects and less money to salaries and help to ensure we are in compliance with federal regulations.”

New business

Council only passed one piece of new legislation Thursday, a finance ordinance to deal with standard transfers and appropriations for the operation of the city (Ordinance 129).

The legislative body also introduced for first readings:

¯ Ordinance 128; The proposed designation of and naming of Knox Park, a green space owned by the city across Front Street from Smitty’s Pizza.

¯ Resolutions 53 and 54; Concerning the creation of a native plants garden upon the west side Muskingum Riverbank above the boat ramp and below Gilman United Methodist Church.

Council is next scheduled to meet on Oct. 26, beginning at 4 p.m. for committees.

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