Mansfield Building

City of Mansfield Municipal Building.

MANSFIELD -- Mansfield City Council on Tuesday is expected to discuss Mayor Tim Theaker's decision earlier this month to trim the city's budget by eliminating non-emergency overtime in the fire department.

The cost-cutting move, made in response to anticipated reduced revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been criticized by the union representing local firefighters.

The discussion will come during a safety committee meeting at 6:40 p.m., a session chaired by At-large Councilman Phil Scott.

The evening, including a streets committee session at 6:20 p.m. and a parks committee meeting at 6:30, will be done online, which has been the practice of council since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The meetings, including council caucus at 7 p.m. and legislative session that follows immediately thereafter, will be again be live-streamed on the city's Facebook page.

In terms of public participation, residents with comments or questions must email them by Tuesday at 5 p.m. to citycouncil@ci.mansfield.oh. Council has asked those submitting questions or comments to include their name and address.

Questions or comments sent via email will be read at the beginning of council's legislative session.

Theaker made the decision on May 5, directing fire Chief Steve Strickling to "cease" non-emergency overtime in an effort to trim the department's $600,000 OT budget in 2020.

The move came in the wake of an estimated 20-percent decline in revenues due to the state-ordered pandemic response.

The move, which had the potential to temporarily close two of the city's five stations depending on manpower that day, has been modified a couple of times.

The policy now is to never temporarily shutter more than one station at a time and the chief may employ OT after only three firefighter call-offs, according to the city.

Mansfield Firefighters IAFF Local 266 has continued to criticize the cutbacks, posting daily updated station status reports on the union's Facebook page and urging residents to contact the administration and council members.

In other matters Tuesday, council is expected to:

-- vote on the authorization of two sewer back-up damage claims for city residents Monica Sturts ($650) and Vikki Whisler ($228.93) for a March 3 issue at 204 Cherry Hill Road.

-- vote on the re-appointment of Jodie Perry (Chamber of Commerce), Chris Hiner (Financial Institution) and Scott Cardwell (Downtown Business) to the Downtown Improvement Advisory Board. The new terms will run through June 30, 2024.

-- vote to authorize the city's public works director to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the funding and construction of a sidewalk on East Cook Road.

-- discuss during caucus the creation of a new special city revenue fund, titled "Local Coronavirus Relief Fund."  It will be used to account for money sent to the city from the State of Ohio through the federal CARES Act for pandemic-related expenses.

-- discuss during caucus authorizing the safety-service director to accept $72,507 in grant funds from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to offset costs incurred by the police department related to COVID-19. The funds will be used for employee overtime costs ($10,599), capital expenses ($34,497) and supplies ($27,411). There is no local match for the grant dollars.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"