NEWTON FALLS – The village council has hired Sean Housley as interim part-time financial manager at $1,500 a week as officials review the village budget to see if adjustments to the cost of living can be made in April for hourly workers.
The board 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 chief financial officer.
The village is advertising for a full-time financial director to replace Anna Musson, who was made redundant late last year. If a permanent replacement for Musson is found, the part-time interim CFO position will end 90 days after that person is hired.
Officials said they had struggled to find someone for the job, as well as others in the village.
Acting City Manager Pam Priddy said Housley had been paid $2,800 a week since being hired in September, which was lowered effective Jan. 1 to $1,500 a week without benefits. She said Housley is in Newton Falls during office hours twice a week — once during the week and on Saturdays — and is available by phone every day.
Housley will work the majority of the time from home and attend two monthly board meetings, according to the agreement.
The council also voted 4-0-1 to assess the village’s finances at the council’s first meeting in April to discuss a wage adjustment of 1.3 or 1.4 percent or more for hourly workers based on finances for the first quarter of the year.
General Councilor Julie Stimpert abstained during the vote. Her husband, Mark Stimpert, is the village zoning inspector.
Fourth Ward Councilor Chris Granchie said a clearer picture of finances needs to be painted before any raises are granted.
“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,” said John Baryak, city councilor for the 2nd arrondissement.
Priddy said employees received a 3% pay raise at the start of 2021.
At last week’s meeting, several residents said merit increases should be based on productivity, not cost of living.
“We want to be good stewards of money and see what we can afford in April,” Mayor Ken Kline said.
In other matters, the council voted 5-0 at first reading to create a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), which would allow alcohol consumption in a specific downtown area.
Granchie said the Salem and Garrettsville DORAs have helped increase business in those communities and no issues have been reported by law enforcement.
Resident John Richards said he was concerned the DORA was near the bridge and river and suggested people should not be in that area drinking.
First Ward Councilor Mike Serotko said he wanted 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 help the community and businesses.
Additionally, Priddy reported that the village is looking to fill part-time administrative assistant positions in the finance and police departments and in the city manager’s office, Kathy King, council clerk, said she will take her retire this year.
Priddy said she reached out to Kent State University and Youngstown State University to see if recent graduates or current students could fill the roles.