NORTHFIELD VILLAGE -- After a contentious exchange, Northfield Village Council scheduled a special work session to discuss the possibility of designating an "officer in charge" position and establishing a pay rate for all the village departments.

Councilor Gary Vojtush made the suggestion in order to establish a specific paid spot for all personnel to rotate into when a department head is away on vacation or on extended leave.

"I think it's a great opportunity for everyone in the organization to possibly move up into that position and learn those steps," Vojtush said.

Council President Nick Magistrelli said establishing an officer in charge position for every department is an unnecessary move, and should only come into play for extended leaves.

"I don't think anyone deserves a stipend for two or three weeks," he said. "(After) 40 years in the unions, I have never heard of anything like that. People are put into place to take over a position if something happens if there is a determined amount of time of six months or eight months we can throw together an me I think this is a waste of time."

Councilor Alan Hipps said there wouldn't be an officer in charge issue if Council could agree on a police chief.

Pending legislation to establish an hourly stipend of $4.80 for Sgt. John Zolgus as acting officer in charge and a $1,400 lump sum payable to Lt. Jamie Mackie for his service as officer in charge from Oct. 5, 2016 to Feb. 28 was held at first reading to give Council time to discuss the matter further in work session.

Councilor Jennifer Domzalski said "I don't feel we can move forward when everyone is still so frustrated over past business."

In an unprecedented move, Nehez removed Mackie from "officer in charge" and named Sgt. John Zolgus as officer in charge as of March 1. Zolgus has been with the department since 1993. Nehez previously told The News Leader he placed Zolgus in charge "to give him a chance to prove himself to Council."

The move came after a split council could not agree with Mayor Jesse Nehez on his choice for a new police chief, a position after the departure of former Police Chief Mark Wentz. Mackie, who has been with the department since 1994, served as second in charge of the department for nine years until last fall when Nehez made him officer in charge. He has served on the department since 1994.

Zolgus and Mackie were in the top three finalists. The third was outside applicant Cleveland Heights Police Capt. Geoffrey Barnard. Barnard worked for the Cleveland Heights Police Department since 1988.

The work session was scheduled for 7 p.m. March 22 prior to the next Council meeting which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9433