A boom in development has Oakwood looking to bring back several key staff positions it froze during the throes of the Great Recession.
Oakwood City Council voted Monday to pursue filling the planning director’s post, which
has been vacant since Larry Sparks retired in early 2011.
The South Hall city also is looking to hire a finance director and permits/clerk receptionist, with the hope of the new employees being on board by early August.
The total new expense for the hires, including pay and benefits, will run about $150,000.
However, “the increased activity we’re seeing in permit fees will more than cover costs the rest of this fiscal year, and I think we’ll be able to handle it under next year’s budget,” City Manager Stan Brown said.
The city’s fiscal year runs Jan. 1-Dec. 31.
Starting with the 2012 budget, the city had decided to hold off on key staff hirings.
“We've tried to sharpen the pencil as much as we can ... to control costs as much as possible,” Brown said in October 2011.
Also, that same year, Patti Doss-Luna retired as assistant city manager.
“At some point, we’ll need to bring them back online when (economic) activity picks back up,” Brown said.
Doss-Luna hasn’t been replaced.
“We’re still not fully staffed … so, we’re still operating pretty lean,” Brown said Tuesday.
But economic conditions have aligned recently to allow the city to consider new positions.
“You can run overloaded for quite a while, but at some point, you have to go back and reload,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve decided (to do), as things are starting to pick up with development activity.”
Also, with longtime administrative assistant Tabitha Hale leaving Aug. 15, “it created another opportunity to look at where we’re at (with staffing),” Brown said.
The permits position was tied to growth, so when activity faded during the recession, so did the job.
The last time the city had a finance director was late last decade.
“We’ve been using consulting services in the meantime for that to do (certified public accountant) work and financial statements,” Brown said. “So, we would be bringing that back in-house.”