Council considers amending city manager’s contract

The vote was close – 3-2, but in the end, the Portsmouth City Council gave first reading to a request by Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen to amend his employment contract with the city.

Allen had asked for the city to agree to pay the premium of $1,182.50 on a $250,000 life insurance policy; have his vacation time increased to five weeks to be used during the calendar year; $3,600 per year, payable in equal monthly installments of $300 as a vehicle allowance to be used to purchase, lease or own, operate and maintain a vehicle and to pay his annual membership fee in the American Society of Public Administration. In addition, the city agrees to pay the membership dues in the International City Manager’s Association (ICMA) and Ohio City Manager’s Association (OCMA).

When it came up for first reading, City Council voted to give Allen everything he asked for with the exception of his request for the five weeks of vacation. They reduced that amount to four weeks instead at a recent conference agenda meeting, but approved the rest of the items.

First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson, Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler and Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb voted for the ordinance, while Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson and Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows voted against the measure. Sixth Ward Councilman Jeff Kleha was absent.

“I continue not to support the increases,” Kevin E. Johnson said. “I know that’s not popular with some people, but at this time I don’t support it. The city manager, I back him 100 percent, but he has only been on the job two years and when you have department heads that haven’t had raises since 2009, I just don’t feel it is the time to increase his benefits.”

Johnson said his decision not to support the increases has no reflection on Allen’s job performance.

The measure will be given two more readings, and when it comes up again, there will be two new members of City Council, Jo Ann Aeh in the Second Ward, replacing Saddler and Tom Lowe replacing Sixth Ward Councilman Jeff Kleha.