GOSHEN — The city will soon have two new positions to fill following action Tuesday evening by the Goshen City Council.
At the meeting, council members approved an amendment to the city’s 2020 Compensation Ordinance for Civil City and Utilities Employees, which will allow for the hiring of both a new grants manager position for the city, as well as a new director for the Goshen Community Relations Commission.
The council’s members had already approved the ordinance amendment on first reading during their Sept. 1 meeting, but agreed to hold off on a second, final vote on the new positions until Tuesday’s meeting in order to allow more time for consideration of the request.
As approved, the tentative job description for the new CRC director reads as follows:
“Reporting to the Mayor, the Community Relations Director will focus on and participate in developing strategic goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Community Relations Director will advocate for affinity groups while cultivating positive relationships thru community outreach.”
Created in 2004, the Goshen CRC is a group of volunteer residents appointed by the mayor and council with the goal of fostering a climate of positive community relationships and non-discrimination in which all Goshen residents enjoy equal opportunity for education, employment, access to public conveniences, accommodations and real property.
According to Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman, under whose department the new CRC director will fall, his plan is to hire the new director on a part-time basis for both 2020 and 2021, with the option for upgrading the position to full-time in the future should the workload warrant it.
In explaining that plan, Stutsman noted that the city budgets roughly $42,000 for the CRC each year, with anywhere from $18,000 to $25,000 of that total typically going toward the hiring of subcontractors to help assist the commission with its mission, event planning, community outreach, etc.
However, given how a majority of the CRC’s planned events for the year have had to be canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stutsman noted that a large portion of that yearly budget — about $35,000 — currently remains unspent.
He also noted that while the CRC has in the past contracted with a consultant to serve as a type of guide or mediator for the group, the commission is operating without such a position and has been for some time.
As such, he noted that by going the part-time route with the new position, he’ll be able to hire the director without having to increase the department’s budget.
“The CRC director position will be paid for out of the current budget,” Stutsman said. “It does not create a budget increase if we take this step this year or next year.”
Per the ordinance amendment, the primary responsibilities of the city’s new grants manager position will be to assist city departments with identifying and procuring new grant funding, while at the same time helping to prevent the potential loss of grant funding due to incomplete or non-compliant grant applications.
It was also noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is now faced with substantial unexpected expenses and incoming federal grant funding through programs such as the CARES Act, FEMA public assistance, etc., and could use some much-needed help with the required tracking, reporting and compliance administration of that funding.
According to Goshen Clerk-Treasurer Adam Scharf, whose office will house the new position, given that a majority of the grants manager’s time will be dedicated to COVID-related duties in 2020, the payroll costs for such a position will qualify as a reimbursable expense under the federal CARES Act, and thus will not require an additional appropriation for the 2020 budget.
Looking ahead to 2021 — and assuming COVID-19-related duties are no longer a priority — Scharf said it’s anticipated the grants manager’s focus will then shift to providing general assistance with grant funding and administration across all city departments, though with a special emphasis on public safety, police and fire — departments he said tend to benefit most from available grant funding, while also having the least amount of time to research, pursue and track those grants.
Scharf noted that as currently proposed, the salary for the new grants manager will likely settle at grade 11, which equates to a base salary of about $55,000 per year.