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Schlicher fills positions in city offices, plans for future

With 31 days left, Mayor-elect Josh Schlicher is aligning his personnel, policy and planning goals to enter the new year ready to run.

“These two guys have the experience of working under structured management,” explained Schlicher. “They’ve worked their whole careers in the professional environment we’ll need in the mayor’s office.”

Filling the vacant safety-service director role come Jan. 1 will be Steve Wetz, 54, of Waterford.

And filling the new seat of human resources director, taking the third-in-command spot as Schlicher restructures the mayor’s office, is Jeff Skinner, 51, of Waterford.

Both Wetz and Skinner are retired from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, where Schlicher said he became familiar with their work ethic.

Schlicher currently serves as an auxiliary lieutenant for the patrol’s Marietta Post.

“We’re going to start with restructuring the mayor’s office first, then work with council to realign duties and departments so that we can move forward operations that the public can really see,” said Schlicher this week.

With an eye set on April 10, which will be Schlicher’s 101st day in office, the following are changes he plans to initiate in next year’s first quarter:

1. Restructure mayor’s office in the following hierarchy:

¯ Mayor.

¯ Safety-Service Director.

¯ Oversight of day-to-day operations, safety-trainings, certifications and service coordination between departments.

“In the first months I’ll really be leaning on the department heads, learning what they do and how, and looking at how we can reduce city liability,” said Wetz.

Wetz has worked as the safety compliance and operations manager for Wetz Transportation Company for the last four years after retiring from the Ohio State Highway Patrol with 30 years of service.

Wetz said his first sights are set on walking every sidewalk in the city, getting to know the crime and disturbance rates of neighborhoods with the police and fire departments.

“My plan is to walk every sidewalk in Marietta–when we were campaigning I noticed the sidewalks were terrible, but I know we didn’t see each one and I want to know where those are and where they’re missing as we move into this role to change that,” he said. “With the police department, I want to see their data so we can concentrate more efforts where they need support.”

¯ Human Resources Director.

¯ Institution of personnel and departmental evaluations.

“I’m looking forward to supporting Josh in the office and treating everyone fair and consistently,” said Skinner, who retired after 29 years in the Ohio State Highway Patrol last year and has worked this past year as the senior safety coordinator for the EQT Corporation. “My experience is in hiring, interviewing, evaluations and discipline. Most of the time, it was a conversation–not just me talking and someone listening. You get better buy-in if you’re also listening.”

Both Wetz and Skinner currently live in Waterford, though Wetz is actively pursuing housing within city limits.

“And I just live three miles outside of town,” added Skinner.

¯ Budget and Purchasing Director (currently known as assistant safety-service director, but with some responsibility changes coming in 2020).

¯ Administrative Assistant (a combination of the current clerk and secretary positions).

“The safety-service director will still be the chief administrative officer, focused on the operations of police, fire and our city services,” explained Schlicher. “But with the introduction of a human resources manager, we’ll be taking those duties out of the hands of current department heads so that they can focus their best efforts on operations as we update our overall operations plan and make that more accessible to the public.”

Bringing on Wetz and Skinner, he said, will begin the momentum of change coming then to the consolidation of internal services of the city.

Departments not anticipated to see any personnel changes at the onset of 2020 are police, fire, water and sewer.

“But we are going to reintroduce weekly staff meetings and require weekly expectations and reports from departments,” added Schlicher.

“And we’ll build evaluations and expectations out of those,” added Wetz.

2. Work with the current and new Marietta City Councils to introduce two new consolidated departments:

Schlicher plans to combine the following departments into one Public Works Department under one superintendent and one foreman:

¯ Streets.

¯ Public Facilities.

¯ Equipment Maintenance.

¯ Utility Maintenance.

He then plans to combine the following departments/single operations under the administration into one Planning and Development Department:

¯ Engineering.

¯ Community Development.

¯ Code Enforcement.

¯ Recreation.

3. Begin labor union negotiations by the end of January with all three bargaining units (International Association of Fire Fighters, Fraternal Order of Police and Teamsters).

4. Introduce a 24-hour answering service for the mayor’s office to track complaints and calls for aid.

“When you call the office, you should always reach a real person,” explained Schlicher. “Even at 2 a.m., that will need to roll over to the police department, but if it’s a non-emergency, there should be a way for the public to track that they were followed up with–that they got an answer.”

5. Infrastructure maintenance planning updates.

“By April, we need to have an operations plan published that’s accessible to the community,” said Schlicher. “That’s including water line replacement and sewer line replacement planning and which streets over each year are to see maintenance and what kind of maintenance.”

¯ Streets

¯ Preventive maintenance planning.

“For potholes, we’ll still take in the citizen comments and complaints, but I don’t want to wait for the complaint to fix the holes,” said Schlicher. “And how we fill them will be with more than just cold mix, but by actually grinding out filling, rolling and then crack-sealing around the edges so we can prolong the life of that road.”

¯ Economic development planning.

Economic development and the use of public parks, grant writing, federal aid and code enforcement may see the most change not only in personnel but also operationally, Schlicher said.

“Downtown, as we work alongside Enrich (Marietta, a combined effort led by Councilman Geoff Schenkel, Marietta Main Street, Marietta College, Washington State Community College and local banks) to develop improvements I also want to plan our own maintenance and street furniture improvements like painting all of the lamp posts, putting in better wayfinding and welcome signage.”

¯ Emergency preparedness and community response.

¯ Snow/ice road preparation.

¯ Flood planning including:

¯ Public communications.

¯ Contributing labor.

¯ Prevention.

¯ Duckbill and storm drain maintenance.

6. Public accountability

At the close of the first quarter (end of March), the mayor-elect plans to begin publishing quarterly reports to the city website tallying ongoings of the city administration, including project progress/delays, upcoming openings/closings of city assets, and city maintenance plans for the coming season.

“We’re going to need the public’s cooperation with some of these tasks, for example, moving cars to across the street for scheduled cleanings,” Schlicher explained.

7. Simple projects to be completed between March 30 and Memorial Day:

¯ All crosswalks repainted.

¯ All city-owned parking lots sealed and restriped.

¯ Putnam Bridge poles repainted.

¯ New park signage.

¯ New welcome signs at city entrances.

¯ New branding and universal city logo.

Schlicher officially takes office on Jan. 1 but remains as council president through the end of the year.

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

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