MACEDONIA — Legislation to prohibit nepotism in city hiring practices and to establish procedures relating to small cell phone technology and wireless support structures was introduced at City Council’s Thursday meeting.

In considering the ordinance to prohibit nepotism, officials said the city recognizes hiring and retaining relatives of department heads or elected officials may raise questions regarding objectivity and / or favoritism.

The legislation would prohibit the city from hiring parents, grandparents, children, grandchlldren, spouses, siblings and in-laws of a department head or elected official on a full-time or part-time basis. Seasonal employees would be exempt from the restriction.

If the ordinance is approved, any family member who is employed by the city on its effective date would be exempt from its provisions unless the employee leaves city employment and wants to return.

Council President Jan Tulley explained Council debated similar legislation a few years ago and did not approve it.

Mayor Nick Molnar said he suggested the legislation "because it would take away some questions about improprieties" and "would be a good thing for the city."

"I hear it a lot that everyone working in government is related to an official or a department head," said Councilwoman Jessica Brandt. 

Councilman Kevin Bilkie said perhaps the drafted legislation could be extended to include close friends of elected officials and department heads. "That would eliminate the perception that someone’s buddy is being favored for a job," he said.

But Councilman Vini Ventura said the legislation "seems a little harsh," saying if a relative of an official or department head is qualified for a job, it might eliminate some highly qualified candidates..

Law Director Mark Guidetti said he could provide Council with some similar ordinances from nearby communities, and Tulley asked her colleagues to study the matter over the next few weeks prior to a vote.

Meanwhile, Guidetti explained the small cell / wireless ordinance outlines some measures the city can institute to govern antenna systems in city rights-of-way.

Guidetti said that under an old state law the city had no say on the matter, but state legislators reconsidered and allowed communities to enact certain regulations after several communities filed a lawsuit.

"Communities now have more flexibility concerning placement, screening and the permit process for these wireless support structures," he said.

For example, several companies might be required to share a pole or tower, thus reducing the amount of clutter on the landscape.

OTHER  MATTERS

Council confirmed the mayor’s appointments of Sean Hathaway as police sergeant and Nickolas Favazzo as a full-time service department maintenance worker.

Molnar said Hathaway has successfully completed his probationary period, while Favazzo will replace a retiring service department employee. "Our service department ranks have really been depleted, so I’m glad we have Favazzo coming on board," said Molnar.

During his report, Molnar said city officials are looking at ways to improve safety at the Route 8-Highland Road intersection, and the WOW! cable firm has notified the city that it wishes to extend service here. The firm currently is running lines through Northfield Center Township.

Molnar said because of increased costs the city’s recycling contractor has requested city officials allow it to raise its fee for residents by $1.61, but the city will not allow that to happen.

The mayor said the existing recycling contract expires next year, and the city will seek bids for a new contract.

Molnar again emphasized the need for passage of the 0.25 percent income tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot. "We desperately must address the need for new equipment [fire department ladder truck, police cars and service vehicles] and additional manpower," he said.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.