City administration urges council to make maintenance hires

Marietta city administration and council are in a holding pattern over addressing citizen complaints in city parks and cemeteries.

The issue resurfaced again in council’s finance committee Monday as Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber brought before members present a second request to hire seasonal workers to address complaints on maintenance.

“We are experiencing an inability of (Washington County Department of Job and Family Services) to supply labor and have had limited success with those we have hired,” said Dauber.

JFS has in recent years been used as an avenue to pay for seasonal work through a low-to-moderate income subsidy program with the state where the city hires eligible laborers for the summer, usually young adults, and the department reimburses the city’s wage expenses.

This year council authorized 12 seasonal laborers to be hired through this program, four of whom were to be assigned to parks and cemetery work under the direction of the public facilities department.

Dauber said not only has the city had trouble filling those spots, but it also struggles with the quality of work output.

“We wish to put some money together to hire four seasonal workers to service us instead to the end of the year,” explained Dauber, noting the funding would be outside the reimbursement model, under previous city hiring structures still in place but not currently used.

“I’m trying to move on these complaints in the midst of our busy season so we can get (work) done rapidly,” he said, requesting authorization to hire the labor at a starting wage of $9.03 per hour, for a maximum of 29 hours per week.

He estimated that the appropriation needed would cost the city’s general fund approximately $29,000.

But that appropriation request will not be introduced or considered at this week’s regular business meeting, said finance committee chair Mike Scales, because there won’t be enough council members present at the regular meeting to push any legislation through on one reading anyway.

But other appropriations will be introduced Thursday at council’s regular business meeting at 7:30 p.m. including:

• A $20,000 advance for diseased tree removal in Oak Grove Cemetery to be reimbursed when 2019 federal Community Development Block Grant funds arrive in city coffers.

• $3,400 for a new trailer for the fire department’s confined space rescue equipment.

• $1,032 to cover costs for phone and internet service at the city harbor.

Instead, Scales said another finance committee meeting would need to be held to discuss the seasonal labor question later this summer.

Also delayed was a direction on whether council would approve the replacement purchase of a specialized, smaller backhoe, previously used for the last 20 years, for work between headstones in cemeteries, on the River Trail and in tight spaces the facilities and even water and sewer crews are called upon to work in for maintenance and repairs.

Council will next meet for Audit Committee on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the city building at 304 Putnam St.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• Council’s Audit Committee will meet at 304 Putnam St., at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

• Council’s Regular Business Meeting will take place in room 10 of the Armory, 241 Front St., at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Source: Marietta City Council.