Should the Village of Mariemont have a Village Administrator?

Should the Village of Mariemont have a Village Administrator?

At the present time, Mariemont has two employees that are called ‘administrators’ but act mainly in a clerical role of answering questions with a job description of “assisting residents with questions or concerns regarding such items as road repairs, drainage problems, trash collection, recyclables, weather-related issues and zoning issues, and serving as an information source for numerous other parties such as real estate agents checking on zoning matters or contractors.”

In adjoining communities, Village Administrators take a much more active role in community affairs and services. For instance, in Fairfax the Village Administrator’s job description is defined as follows:

  • Oversees the Maintenance and Recreation Departments.
  • Works directly with existing and potential businesses in the Village on economic development issues. Business retention and expansion is the main focus of the Village Administrator’s office.
  • Acts as the liaison for the Hamilton County Department of Economic Development’s “Enterprise Zone” program for commercial and industrial businesses.
  • Acts as the Street Commissioner for the Village – all street and sidewalk opening permits must be obtained from the Administrator. The Administrator oversees all road repair work and improvements handled by the maintenance department, or projects that are bid out to a contractor and works directly with the Village Engineer on plan specification and design.
  • Administers employee benefits program including: medical, dental and disability plans.
  • Manages all Workers’ Compensation claims/accounts.
  • Researches and applies for various County, State and Federal grant opportunities for Village capital improvements, infrastructure, and recreational items.
  • Acts as Purchasing Agent for the Village.

I was unable to find any Village, City, or Township in Hamilton County that does not have a City Manager or Chief Administrator.  The only person that Mariemont has to deal with the aforementioned functions is the Mayor, and to some extent the council.

In most municipalities, the elected Mayor presides at ceremonial and council functions, puts together the budget and directly oversees the police and fire departments. The administrator reports to the Mayor and village councils or board of trustees.

Mariemont is an incorporated municipality with about 1,450 households and an annual budget of roughly 3.4 million dollars. As a sizeable entity, it is difficult to imagine that both the burden of administrative and governance functions can be adequately managed by just one person, or a mayor.

Many of us would encourage the Village Council and Mayor to consider hiring a full-time Village Administrator with experience and skills that could smooth out the processes of Village administration. This would free up time for the Council and Mayor to consider longer term strategic initiatives to enhance Mariemont’s exceptionalism with the goal of becoming the best suburb in the Cincinnati area. Many of the recommendations in the Mariemont Preservation Foundation Vision 2021 are truly worth considering as a strategic template for the future.


  1. Dr. Wendel,

    Recently you posted an article on questioning the Village’s purchase of a new fire truck. In responding to that article, former Assistant Fire Chief Tim Feichtner pointed out that you had failed to speak with anyone in the Village of Mariemont Fire Department before writing the article and, therefore, made several inaccurate statements that were very misleading to residents.

    Well, it appears you have done it again!

    Your most recent article, “Should the Village of Mariemont have a Village Administrator”, was so far off the mark as to be laughable.

    You were correct when you said the Village office has two employees, but we are not called ‘administrators’. Joanee Van Pelt’s title is Administrative Assistant and mine is Staff Assistant, and what you listed as our job description (assisting residents with questions or concerns regarding such items as road repairs, drainage problems, trash collection, recyclables, weather-related issues and zoning issues, and serving as an information source for numerous other parties such as real estate agents checking on zoning matters or contractors) is merely the “customer service” part of our duties.

    As a Village resident, you have the right to come into our office at any time and speak with us about what we do. Had you taken the time to do so, you would have discovered that Mrs. Van Pelt’s duties include, but are not limited to:
    • Processing payroll for all Village employees
    • Preparing and submitting Police and Fire pension monthly reports
    • Preparing and submitting Ohio Public Employees Retirement System monthly reports
    • Prepare and submit all deduction checks for Deferred Compensation and Health Savings Accounts, as well as employee payments to credit unions
    • Prepare quarterly Ohio Bureau of Employment Services reports
    • Overseeing and helping to negotiate healthcare benefits for all full-time employees
    • Preparing required reports to keep Village compliant with Affordable Care Act regulations
    • Updating Village’s 125 Plan for Health Savings Account to assure compliance with IRS rulings and regulations
    • Tracking and recording all vacation time, sick leave time, personal time, and other employee hours
    • Provide and review all required documentation for new employees
    • Coordination of all Workers Compensation claims and unemployment claims
    • File all federal withholding tax reports
    • File all quarterly and annual withholding tax reconciliations for numerous municipalities in which employees reside
    • Prepare and send W2’s and Federal Reports
    • Miscellaneous other tasks associated with payroll and benefits
    • Preparing the agenda for all Council meetings

    • Attending all Council meeting, taking minutes, transcribing those minutes, and posting them on the Village website
    • Preparing and posting all committee meeting notices
    • Assisting Council members with research for committee meetings
    • Helping Council members to prepare committee reports for presentation to Council
    • Working in coordination with the Village Solicitor to prepare all resolutions and ordinances and make permanent copies for archives
    • Attend all Committee of the Whole meetings, taking and transcribing minutes of those meetings
    • Attending all Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board meetings, taking minutes at those meetings, transcribing those minutes, and posting them on the Village website
    • Attend Safety Council Seminars
    • Attend bi-annual Records Commission meetings, take and transcribe minutes
    • Prepare annual budget for Administrative Department
    • Oversee nomination process for Outstanding Citizen of the Year
    • Keep and prepare payroll records for review by State Auditor
    • Maintain Notary Public Commission
    • Attending meetings with representatives from the Center for Local Government and other outside organizations
    • Monitoring and replying to all e-mails regarding Village business
    • Receive, open, review, and distribute all in-coming mail for all departments
    • Assist in answering phones
    • Collect and compile liability insurance information for annual renewal of policy
    • Evaluate and determine time table for replacement of office equipment

    The 35 tasks listed above make up the bulk of Mrs. Van Pelt’s job description, but the list certainly does not include everything she does to keep the administrative office running smoothly. She is also my direct supervisor, and under her direction, my duties include, but are not limited to:

    • Review and assign account numbers to all purchase order requests and submit to Mayor for approval
    • Create purchase orders for all approved requests using finance software
    • Review all invoices received from vendors and match them to purchase orders
    • Code invoices to indicate which department is to be charged for each expense
    • Enter all invoices into finance software system
    • Enter all invoices on “List of Bills to be Paid” for Council to review
    • Run checks and match them to invoices for mailing
    • Work under the direction of the Fiscal Officer and Assistant Fiscal Officer to make journal entries in finance software system
    • Balance each months expenses and receipts and run ‘End of Month’ reports to close finance records for each month and the end of the year
    • Maintain all financial records for review by State Auditor
    • Compose Village correspondence for Mayor’s review
    • Compose Mayor’s Bulletin at Mayor’s direction
    • Track payments for memberships to swimming pool and tennis courts
    • Coordinate and update changes to website
    • Maintain website calendar
    • Check general voice office voice mail and respond as needed
    • Periodically throughout the day, check general office email, as well as email assigned to me, and respond as needed
    • Check Mayor’s email and print messages for reply
    • Review all Prevailing Wage Rates and send changes and updates to companies under contract for Village projects, such as street repaving
    • Maintain and file all emails, incoming and outgoing correspondence, ordinances, resolutions, etc.
    • Maintain/update card catalog for all new, amended, and repealed legislation
    • Submit all new, amended, and repealed legislation to American Legal Publishing for recodification of Code of Ordinances
    • Schedule appointments for inspections of current construction projects and relay appointments to Building Inspector
    • Research grant opportunities and submit applications where applicable; assist department heads with submission of grant applications
    • Coordinate contract and services with representative and route supervisor for trash service
    • Tally and submit recycling data to Hamilton County Solid Waste District for Residential Recycling Incentive funds award
    • Collect minutes from Parks Advisory Board for Tree City USA requirements
    • Assist Service Department Superintendent with Tree City USA designation application
    • Order office supplies for Mayor, Village office, Building Commissioner, and Building Inspector
    • Assist other departments with computer needs

    As with the list of Mrs. Van Pelt’s duties, those listed above for me are just the ‘highlights’ of what I do each day. I don’t think I need to point out that the two of us handle many more duties than those listed for the Administrator for the Village of Fairfax.

    Additionally, it has been my experience when calling the Fairfax Administration office, my call more often than not goes to voice mail. Those calling our office during regular office hours can expect to speak directly to either Mrs. Van Pelt or me and they can expect to have their question or concern addressed right away. They don’t have to wait for a call back. I can’t tell you how many times residents have commented on their appreciation of the ‘personal touch’ they have come to depend on from this office.

    Therefore, it is an insult for you to say that administrators in other municipalities “take a much more active role in community affairs and services”. Above and beyond all our other duties, we put serving this community and its residents at the top of the list!

    As you can see, Mrs. Van Pelt and I do as much as an administrator would do to take the “burden of administrative functions” off the Mayor and Council, as do our valued department heads. We don’t need more management. We need more workers! Without checking on details, it would be my guess that the combined salaries of the two of us in the Administration Office are less than what an administrator would require, and you would still need someone to answer phones and address all those tasks listed in your original description of the jobs Mrs. Van Pelt and I handle.

    The Village of Mariemont is fortunate to have a Mayor who sees his duties as more than just “ceremonial”. I am not saying that I always agree with everything the Mayor says. However, in the end, I must admit that the motive behind all of his decisions is what is in the best interest of the Village. He works hard to make this community the best that it can be. He works full-time in his part-time position, and he does it all for the bargain price of $8000.00 per year. I challenge anyone to find an administrator that would do all the Mayor does for what he is paid. The administrator in one neighboring community earns in excess of $100,000 per year plus generous benefits.

    The only reason I can see for you to push the idea of hiring an administrator is to relieve the Mayor of some of his influence. If you don’t like the way Mayor Policastro is doing his job, there is a resolution to your problem. It’s called an election. Yet, at Town Meeting, not one person came forward to oppose Dan Policastro for the position of Mayor. That should tell you that the majority of residents are pleased with the way the Village operates.

    So far, you’ve questioned the structure of and need for our Police Department and got no support from residents. You questioned the structure of and need for our Fire Department and got no support from residents. Now you have questioned the structure of and need for our Administrative Department. I doubt that you will get much support from residents on this matter.

    I know that you and others worked very hard on the “Vision 2021 Plan” and I understand that, after all that hard work, it’s difficult to accept that your plan is not being put into action, but maybe it’s time to let it go. The residents seem happy with the status quo and, quite frankly, the employees are greatly insulted by your continued criticism and your total lack of understanding of all we do to give the residents the best service we can.

    Sue Singleton
    Staff Assistant
    Village of Mariemont

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