CUYAHOGA FALLS — The leader of the city’s parks and recreation department is asking council to restore funding for the assistant superintendent’s position.

Sara Kline, superintendent for the parks and recreation department, said she is requesting a total of $126,302 in funding for the assistant’s post as part of her 2019 budget requests. Of that amount, $87,080 is set aside for wages and $39,222 is earmarked for benefits for a job that has been vacant since January.

Kline spoke to council’s finance committee during budget hearings Nov. 26.

If council approves the funding of the position as part of the 2019 budget, Kline said her department would then begin seeking applicants for the job. 

Council member Mary Ellen Pyke (R-2) asked Kline if she would primarily be looking to promote from within.

"It is my hope and my goal that we will have internal candidates," Kline said. "I don’t know who will apply, but certainly we have well-qualified people internally. I would imagine we also [would] have external candidates and we’ll have to go through that process. I certainly think it would be remiss to make promises or predictions. That would be premature."

Pyke said considering recent events surrounding the position, she told Kline she hopes she gives "extra consideration to the people that have been dedicated to that park department."

Kline said, "I understand."

At Monday’s meeting, Pyke said she supported funding the assistant parks superintendent’s job.

Council is scheduled to vote on the city’s 2019 budget on Dec. 10.

Council defunded the position at the end of 2017

Last year, City Council decided to defund the position after then-assistant parks and recreation superintendent Megan Moreland said she did not directly supervise park employees and then-parks and recreation superintendent Ed Stewart said Moreland handled programs that are "mostly not related to the park and rec department."

Then-Council member and finance committee chair Carol Klinger (R-At Large) said, "The administration presented this position as an assistant superintendent’s position ... and we put someone in the job who did a completely different function."

A week after Klinger proposed that Council no longer pay for the job, Moreland submitted her resignation. Her last day with the city was Jan. 3. Four days after Moreland submitted her resignation, Stewart announced that he was retiring from his post; his final day with the city was Feb. 1.

Lori Visner, the facility director of the Natatorium, served as interim superintendent from February until mid-May when Kline took over. Kline previously served as mayor of Stow.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.