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Interim finance director in Newton Falls takes pay cut

Council considering COLA increases for hourly employees

NEWTON FALLS — Village Council has hired Sean Housley as a part-time interim finance director at $1,500 per week as officials are reviewing the village budget to see if cost-of-living adjustments can be made in April for hourly workers.

Council at a recent meeting voted 5-0 appointing Housley to the position. Housley will split his time between Newton Falls and Silver Lake in Summit County, where he serves as full-time finance director.

The village is advertising for a full-time finance director to replace Anna Musson, who was fired late last year. If a permanent replacement for Musson is found, the part-time interim finance director position will end 90 days after that person’s hiring.

Officials said they have had a hard time finding someone for the position, as well as others in the village.

Interim City Manager Pam Priddy said Housley had been paid $2,800 per week since his hiring in September, which was lowered effective Jan. 1 to $1,500 per week with no benefits. She said Housley is in Newton Falls for office hours twice per week — once during the week and on Saturday — and is available by phone any day.

Housley will work the majority of the time from home and attend two monthly council meetings, according to the agreement.

Council also voted 4-0-1 to evaluate the village’s finances at the first council meeting in April to discuss a pay adjustment of 1.3 or 1.4 percent or more for hourly employees based on finances in the first quarter of the year.

Councilwoman-at-Large Julie Stimpert abstained on the vote. Her husband, Mark Stimpert, is the village zoning inspector.

Fourth Ward Councilman Chris Granchie said a clearer picture of finances must be painted before any raises are given.

“If we have the money, we will take care of our employees. We can’t give a cost of living if we don’t have the funds,” 2nd Ward Councilman John Baryak said.

Priddy said employees received a 3 percent pay increase in early 2021.

Several residents at last week’s meeting said merit raises should be based on productivity and not cost of living.

“We want to be good stewards of the money and see what we can afford in April,” Mayor Ken Kline said.

In other business, council voted 5-0 on first reading to create a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA), which would allow for the consumption of alcohol in a specified downtown area.

Granchie said Salem and Garrettsville’s DORAs have helped increase business in those communities and no issues have been reported from law enforcement.

Resident John Richards said he was concerned the DORA would be near the bridge and river and suggested people should not be in that area drinking.

First Ward Councilman Mike Serotko said he wants to review the DORA map and also agreed it should avoid the river.

Third Ward Councilwoman Tesa Spletzer said the DORA can be reviewed every two years. Resident Julie Lemon said she does not support a DORA and said people don’t need alcohol to assist the community and businesses.

Also, Priddy reported the village is looking to fill part-time administrative assistant positions in the finance and police departments and in the city manager’s office, with Kathy King, clerk of council, stating she will retire this year.

Priddy said she has contacted Kent State University and Youngstown State University to see if any recent graduates or current students could fill the roles

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