Streetsboro -- Jeff Pritchard, the city's director of planning and economic development, has been terminated by the city in the wake of the passage of a charter amendment in November that requires the city split his job into two positions.
Pritchard said his last day on the job will be Dec. 21. He said he was given a letter of termination Dec. 7 by Mayor Glenn Broska, Law Director David Maistros and Human Resources Director Clay Morris.
"That caught me off guard," Pritchard said. "I do have an opportunity to apply for either of the positions, but it is my understanding there is not enough Council support to bring me back on board."
City Council has final approval of any hires to the two positions, according to Broska.
Pritchard said he does not plan to reapply for either of the jobs.
Broska said Pritchard was terminated "because of the charter change," and the decision was not based on his job performance.
"The charter change eliminated his position as it currently stands," Broska said. "We were obligated under the charter change to let him go. He is welcome to reapply, but I don't know how successful that would be.
"Jeff has done a good job for the city, better than what people give him credit for," Broska said.
Filling new department director positions
Broska said he hopes to have both positions filled by mid-January.
"Now that the situation has evolved to Jeff being gone, we will post the positions and take resumes," Broska said. "Hopefully, it will be an expedited process. The city can't afford to be without [either] position."
The mayor said salary ranges have been set for the two jobs. He said money will be in the city budget for both. Budget discussions are currently ongoing by City Council.
The salary range for the economic development director job will be $75,000 to $85,000, so $85,000 will be budgeted for the job. The salary range for the planning director position will be $45,000 to $55,000, so $55,000 will be in the budget for the job, Broska said, adding that the city is not required to spend the high-end figure in either instance.
Pritchard earned $80,000 annually for performing both jobs, city officials said.
Councilman Chuck Kocisko said he is satisfied with the salary ranges that have been set.
"I wasn't against the charter issue, and I'm glad it went through, but my only question was, how are we going to pay for it?" Kocisko said. "Some adjustments will need to be made. We need to have somebody out there promoting Streetsboro and knocking on doors. It's difficult for one person to do both jobs."
In his capacity as planning director, Pritchard oversees planning and zoning for the city. As economic development director, his main job is to bring new businesses into the city while retaining current ones.
"So far, with all that's been going on, I've been able to complete all that's required," Pritchard previously said.
Broska said with the city moving forward to fill the two positions, "we are within the scope and intent of the law. This is not something that can happen overnight. There is a process. People who think it will happen the next day are terribly mistaken."
Kocisko said he is satisfied with the speed that the process is moving along.
"It's only been a couple weeks [since ballot issues were certified Nov. 27]," Kocisko said. "The mayor is working on the issue, and he's kept us in the loop."
Broska still maintains that the jobs should have remained as one, but added it is "water under the bridge."
"I have looked at all of the departments within the city to see if there are things that we need to enhance, not necessarily change or amend, but things we can do to make our city run more efficiently," he said. "This charter amendment forced my hand. I have to look at the operation of the city to make changes as I need to. I am not in favor of that charter amendment, but those changes still have to be made."
Pritchard's tenure with Streetsboro
Pritchard has been employed by the city in the dual role for 4 1/2 years.
Pritchard said during his tenure with the city, he has helped resolve five litigations, secured more than $2 million in grant money, brought 54 new service-oriented businesses into the city, helped create 977 jobs and initiated the city's first business retention and expansion program. He said in 2011 and 2012, the city had eight new or expanding industries with 758 projected new jobs and 593 projected retained jobs.
Pritchard said while the current industrial vacancy rate is 1.8 percent, the current retail vacancy rate is 11 percent.
"The old Walmart site and Market Square Plaza are difficult challenges for the city as these sites are constrained by Walmart corporate and existing lease agreements, respectively," Pritchard said. "The old Walmart site is 50 percent of the available vacant retail space in the city. Overall, retail has not recovered from the economic downturn."
Pritchard said Dec. 10 he hasn't determined his future job plans.