STEUBENVILLE - It will be a busy week for new City Manager Timothy Boland as he starts his new job directing a city in transition.
Boland said he will be meeting with department heads Monday to start his focus "on the core customer services the city offers."
"I want to look at the service delivery system ... what we do right ... and learn from the staff on what we can do to continue our improvement. An important issue for the city is upgrading its infrastructure. I know there have already been in-depth discussions on the proposed water rate increase. And, I will be at the meeting Tuesday at the community college. Public meetings are so important because that is often where the citizens are heard. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet the city residents and to hear their thoughts. I am looking forward to the meeting," stated Boland.
City Council has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. Finance Committee, Utility Committee Town Hall meeting in Lecture Hall 2102 at Eastern Gateway Community College to discuss the proposed water rate increase and the creation of the water department infrastructure fund.
Council is scheduled to meet in regular session at the lecture hall to consider the third and final reading of the water rate increase proposal.
"The staff has been very helpful in providing me with information about the increase proposal. It is an issue the council and the public has been discussing and this should be an excellent meeting," noted Boland.
"Of course, I also believe in budgetary and financial soundness and transparency. I am ready to start working with the mayor and the council members and will reach out to the citizens and be available to the community. I am trying to bring myself up to speed on the issues facing the city. I will be listening and learning during my first few weeks. Knowing the needs of the community will be my first goal," Boland said.
Boland has been successful obtaining grants during his seven-year tenure as city administrator of Pataskala, in the central part of Ohio.
"Grant funding is so important for any community. This is the perfect time to start looking at what grants are available this year and to plan for potential grant opportunities. I look forward to working with the staff as well as the members of City Council to map out a strategy for determining the available grants and their deadlines so we are prepared," Boland said.
"The important issues for me as I start my first day on the job are health and safety in the community. I will be working with and obtaining information from the police and fire chiefs and the health department. I also have some experience in economic development, so I want to explore opportunities for future economic development. That can be such a game-changer. We need to make sure we are a business-friendly city and welcome all new businesses to the city. It will be important to get the pulse of the community on economic development," continued Boland.
"A lot of very good work has already been done here regarding the new comprehensive plan and the strategic plan. Now we need to make sure these plans become a reality," declared Boland.
Boland accepted the job offer from City Council on Nov. 22.
His seven years as city administrator of Pataskala ended Dec. 31 after council members there voted to not renew Boland's contract.
"I see this as a tremendous opportunity. I have visited the Steubenville community a number of times and see it as a great opportunity. I can't wait to get started. I have made several visits to the city in December and everyone there made me feel very welcome. I'm looking forward to starting my new duties Monday," Boland said in a telephone interview Friday.
Mayor Domenick Mucci has been serving as acting city manager since Cathy Davison resigned as city manager in May.
"I think we had a very successful seven months by accomplishing several goals, including achieving a balanced budget for 2014. We were able to negotiate two successful contracts with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 Ohio Labor Council and the Fraternal Order of Fire Fighters Local 228. And, we saw the completion of the new city comprehensive plan and are now putting together an implementation committee for the plan," stated Mucci.
"One area I am quite pleased with is city recreation. Through the efforts of volunteer groups, we were able to maintain the Belleview Pool and the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in 2013. But now is the time for the city to step up so we can expand the operations and hours of the MLK Center. And, as we move forward into 2014 we need to focus on economic opportunities for our city to grow and flourish," Mucci remarked.
He also reported at the Dec. 10 council sunshine meeting the city was projecting a $1 million cash surplus for 2013 and is anticipating a $38,000 general fund surplus in 2014.
Mucci said the surplus in 2013 was due in part to, "an increase of approximately $200,000 in our city income tax collection. And, we saw an estate tax settlement of about $300,000 that we did not anticipate this year."
"One of the key ingredients in cutting costs this year has been savings realized from changes in our health care program that were approved by a majority of the Health Care Containment Committee. That allows us to project the cash carryover in 2014 and a projection of a cash carryover in 2015. But these remain projections," continued Mucci.
Mucci said he spoke at length with Boland during the past week and will be prepared to offer assistance as needed when Boland assumes the city manager job duties.
"I will be available to update him on current projects in the city and will continue to be available for him at any time," added Mucci.
"We offered Timothy a three-year contract with a starting salary of $90,000. That is the salary Davison was receiving at the end of her job contract. He will be evaluated after six months and then annually every year. The council will have the option of offering Tim a pay increase if he passes the job evaluations," said Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf when Boland was hired.
"We know this has been a drawn-out process, but council members agreed we were going to follow the city charter as we searched for a new city manager," Metcalf said.
"He has been very successful in Pataskala. The community of approximately 15,000 is one of the fastest- growing cities in Ohio," remarked Metcalf.
"Prior to becoming city administrator in Pataskala, Boland was the economic development director in Delaware County from 1999 to 2007. Before that, he was the planning and zoning administrator for Perrysburg and Powell. He brings a very strong and diverse background to our community and I am excited that he has accepted our job offer," Metcalf remarked.
"When I looked at his resume I was highly impressed. He has had a number of successes in Ohio and he has several contacts in the Ohio legislature that will help us in the future. His ability to know the laws of Ohio will also benefit us as a city," Metcalf said.