Jerome Township is in the process of creating a position that would oversee the township departments and employees.
At Monday night’s meeting of the Jerome Township Board of Trustees, the trustees adjourned from a lengthy executive session and voted to create a director of departments position. Trustee Joe Craft called the position a “pseudo township administrator.”
Officials said the position would be part time, working 10 to 20 hours a week. Craft said the trustees have “thrown some numbers out there” for a salary. He said the salary would likely be between $12,500 and $25,000 annually.
Craft explained that Jerome Township is the fastest growing township in the state’s fastest growing county. He said the township is responsible 26 miles of roadway and more than 8,000 residents.
“There is just a lot happening in the township,” Craft said.
Officials said they feel the position is needed.
“I feel we need a township administrator full time,” Craft said. “Currently, we don’t quite have the funding or the facilities — an office or a space to put them — to have that happen.”
He said that for now township officials, “want to dip our pinky toe in this.”
Craft said the township has six employees — the fire chief, zoning inspector, zoning clerk and three maintenance workers — that report directly to the three trustees. He said with that many people involved, sometimes the message can, “get missed or be confusing.”
He said having a director of departments would allow the trustees to communicate with one person who would share the message with employees. He said that system works best if all three trustees are working together and giving the director a consistent message.
Additionally, Craft said the director would handle human resource matters, performance evaluations and help the trustees plan better for upcoming events.
The trustees said they would like to have a person in place sometime in March. Craft said there are a couple of options for the filling the position. He said Fire Chief Doug Stewart has “a lot of talents we could utilize.” Craft specifically mentioned a 2018 annual report and list of 2019 goals Stewart presented for the fire department.
“I’d love to see the entire township put something like that together,” Craft said. “We should be doing an annual report. We should be putting out a list of our goals.”
The other option, Craft said, would be to post the job.
“I think there are a lot of people who are retired, but still have a lot of talents,” Craft said. “Maybe there is someone out there who is retired, but still wants to do something.”
Stewart presented his report and goals earlier in the meeting.
“2018 proved to be a challenging, yet rewarding year for the Jerome Township Division of Fire,” Stewart told the trustees. “Without the dedication of the personnel and the support of the trustees from Jerome and Millcreek townships, the division would have certainly suffered.”
He said the department saw an 8 percent increase in activity for the year. He said the township billed about $116,000 for emergency medical services in 2018.
Stewart said firefighter education is “a big deal” for him. He said that in 2018 fire personnel completed more than 2,500 hours of training. He said in 2017, personnel completed 904 hours of training.
He said that as part of the most recent contract, the department agreed to reimburse firefighters for college tuition. He said the department has an agreement with Columbus State Community College as well as an online school that specializes in firefighter training. He said the schools offer associate and bachelors degrees and most of the credits will transfer to other schools if the student wants to go somewhere else or to pursue a master’s degree.
The chief said that any new promotions will need to have or get an associates degree. He said that by 2022, “if they don’t have a degree, they are not eligible to even sit for the (promotion) test.”
He said he doesn’t really see that as a problem because “most” of the department is more than halfway to an associate’s degree. He did add that eventually, new promotions will need at least a bachelor’s degree.
Stewart said some of his 2018 goals did not get accomplished though he hopes to have those items checked off in the first half of 2019.
The chief said he met with department staff and leadership to set the 2019 goals. He said one of the biggest will be an emphasis on health and physical fitness. He said he also plans to implement a performance appraisal system foe all township employees by April.
Trustee C.J. Lovejoy, who works as an officer with the Columbus Division of Fire, said the training Stewart provides is “fantastic.”
“I am really happy with what’s happening,” Lovejoy said.
Craft agreed, noting, “I am really impressed with where the fire department is.”
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