Athens City Council met Monday evening to approve a new Arts, Parks and Recreation director.
Council began with a few announcements, including a notice about a new liquor permit needed for Boozy Bubbles LLC, located at 18 S. Court Street, which is also the location of Bubbles Tea and Juice Company.
Council also asked citizens to be vigilant and help stop the rise of graffiti in the city of Athens. Council President Chris Knisely said the city has seen problems with graffiti and has done its best to cover it up.
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson announced a proclamation from the state of Ohio that Athens, with a 2020 census population of 23,849 people, is to be known as a city of the state of Ohio.
Council revisited for the third time the issue of allowing Patterson to hire a new Arts, Park and Recreation director with a 34% pay rate. The 34% pay rate amounts to about $68,000 per year and is above what the mayor is preapproved by about $2,000. The motion passed with a six-to-one vote.
Councilwoman Arian Smedley, D-1st Ward, disapproved of the additional salary for the position. She explained the funds for the pay increase come from the general fund, which is essentially taxpayer money, Smedley said. The pay increase still keeps the new director’s salary below the previous director’s salary of about $71,000.
“It is less, but just to offer some context, the previous director was brought on in pre-pandemic times and our current city budget looks very different,” Smedley said.
Later in the meeting, Council discussed entering into a lease agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management. The agreement would save Athens money in the long term, Andy Stone, service safety director for the city, said.
“Over a ten-year period, it’s several $100,000 that would be able to be saved versus buying new vehicles,” Stone said.
Council introduced several fund transfers for first reading, including a $2,800 transfer which will be allocated from the city funds to replace city parking garage meters. Progress of payments towards new fire equipment for the city was discussed as well.
Council also appointed three new members to the Board of Zoning Appeals to fill the vacancies on the board.