Lima tech department on hold until further discussion

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — The City of Lima is going to have to wait a few more weeks before the final decision is made on whether the funding will be available to create an enterprise-level technology department.

The issue had been pushed forward during Monday night’s meeting by city administration, but instead of acting on the proposed ordinance, Lima City Council motioned to waive the first reading until council can consider the initiative during a meeting to be held next Monday, Oct. 15.

Initially recommended to provide technological oversight across departments, the formation of a department of technology and innovation was discussed by the Human Resources Committee a month ago, but it failed to get a recommendation because of concerns surrounding the proposed appointment process of the department head, or the chief technology officer.

“We as a committee didn’t say this technology department shouldn’t exist but that (the CTO position) shouldn’t be appointed by the mayor,” Committee Chair Rebecca Kreher clarified during council.

Kreher initially motioned to defeat the mayor’s suggested ordinance, but she withdrew her motion after Council President John Nixon suggested the need for further discussion.

“There’s a couple issues with this that doesn’t sit very well with me,” Councilor Sam McLean said. “I think (the CTO appointment) needs to go through the Civil Service Board, and I’d be happy to deliberate more on the reasons why.”

“We all need to sit down and talk about it to know what we need to do,” Councilor Derry Glenn said. “This is something we really need. We really need this here in our city.”

Under the city’s strong mayor system, the mayor acts as both the city’s political representative and administrator and is directly responsible for the appointment of major department heads, or “unclassified” positions. Similar to cabinet level positions, these department heads tend to be replaced when new leadership is elected.

Kreher said with the CTO position, she is aiming to avoid such replacement as the CTO job requires a high level of expertise to manage the city’s technology systems effectively. As for other department heads, Kreher said council doesn’t have the ability to change those appointment processes, but now that this initiative has been brought to council, it can change how this new tech department operates to curb the loss of knowledge that occurs in administration change-ups.

“For me, this is not about the mayor, but it’s about who is going to do the job,” Kreher said.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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