WILMINGTON — Shining a light on grants for nonprofits and a change in a city leadership role were the discussion points at Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting.
Council held the first reading of an ordinance eliminating and changing city positions.
Among these moves are eliminating the city administrator position and moving Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker to the mayor’s office and taking on the duties of the city administrator position, but the title of city administrator would be eliminated.
Shidaker would still be the Safety/Service Director. The ordinance would also create a Deputy Service Director to help with what are his current day-to-day duties.
Councilmember Matt Purkey told the News Journal that Mayor John Stanforth is happy with the people he currently has working with him and doesn’t wish to hire a new city administrator.
Purkey referenced something similar that happened in the past with Public Works Director Rick Schaffer.
“He was brought on as the water superintendent,” said Purkey. “But he also had experience with wastewater management, so it was decided to create a new position.”
He described it as a “little outside of the box” but that council feels it is a good move.
In 2017 city council voted to change the title “executive assistant to the mayor” to “city administrator.”
Longtime City Administrator Marian Miller submitted her resignation in April — effective the end of May — after taking a leave and then returning, and Wilmington Human Resources Director Greg Muenchen was appointed to that post in late April.
However, after serving about three months as city administrator, the city announced that Muenchen was no longer with the city and Mayor Stanforth announced Wilmington HR Director Brad Reynolds as interim city administrator during the search for a new city administrator.
The second reading will take place at the Sept. 15 meeting.
Grants for nonprofits
Local nonprofits are seeking transparency with the process of applying for and obtaining City Revitalization Grants.
Councilmember and City Revitalization Committee Chair Jonathan McKay stated council had planned to announce a recipient at Thursday’s meeting, as the grant committee had received — and approved for funding — an application from the Murphy Theatre for $60,000.
According to grant guidelines, the grant was established “to oversee the distribution of the collected revenues from the Retained Hotel Lodging Tax fund. The committee’s duty is to disperse funds in the forms of grants, projects, and events deemed to be used to bring patronage to Wilmington businesses, promote heritage and attractions, and to contribute to the quality of life for those residing within the City.”
Those eligible to get the grant would need to attempt to bring patronage to Wilmington businesses that “promote heritage and attractions, and to contribute to the quality of life” for locals.
“However, with the newness of the process (Interim City Administrator) Brad Reynolds had to recuse himself because he’s a member of the Murphy Theatre board,” said McKay.
The grant committee consists of the city administrator, City Deputy Auditor Donyel Riley, and Clinton County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Taylor Stuckert.
With Reynolds’ recusal, Stanforth or Council President Mark McKay would’ve been appointed in this position. Due to this not occurring, the application process will have to be completed again.
Several local residents involved with nonprofits attended the meeting and spoke in an effort to discover more about the grant and its application process.
Shelby Boatman, Executive Director of the Clinton County History Center, feels there is confusion over the process, what the grant is for, and when it can be applied for.
“I’m seeking clarification on what the qualifications or the parameters are,” said Boatman. “So, the rubric that you guys use.”
Molly Boatman, a local business owner involved with nonprofits, asked about the financial limitations of the grant.
City Clerk Andrea Tacoronte invited both to email their questions her to help create an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section for the grant information online.
Elizabeth Huber, who is involved with multiple local nonprofits, said not enough residents and nonprofits know about the grant and the process and that — once issues are “ironed out” and complete information is published on the city’s website — the grant availability be promoted publicly “so that everyone is on the same page.”
”I just had an event that I could’ve definitely used some grant money for, but I didn’t know,” said Huber. “If we could do something — even just a little postcard — to send out and let people know, ‘Hey, this is available to you as a nonprofit.’ In my opinion, that would be very helpful.”
Councilmember Matt Purkey welcomed people to apply for a grant, after which the committee and nonprofit(s) could set up discussions about a project and whether they meet the criteria.
The grant guidelines can be found at wilmingtonoh.org/working/contact-information.
The application itself can be found at wilmingtonoh.org/city-revitalization-grant-application-2022-2.