Thursday, January 29, 2004

Columbia Twp. administrator renewed

Trustees vote 2-1; Pirman says contract too pricey

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBIA TWP. - C. Michael Lemon, who became township administrator two years ago, received a three-year contract renewal this week.

The renewal, approved by a 2-1 vote of Columbia Township trustees, raises Lemon's salary this year from $75,000 to $78,500. The salary will be reviewed in each of the next two years.

"He's worth every penny," Trustee Sharon Hughes said. "I've gotten nothing but compliments about him from agencies and residents."

Hughes and Trustee Steve Langenkamp voted for the contract renewal, while Trustee Jane Pirman voted against it.

Lemon's contract renewal comes at a time when the township is developing a strategy to attract more businesses and is beginning to work on a long-range master plan.

Pirman praised Lemon's job performance, but said the contract's total compensation package - including health benefits, vacation and other items - was much too high for a small township like Columbia.

With a population of 6,557, including the village of Fairfax, Columbia is one of Hamilton County's smallest townships.

Two years ago, Lemon was hired as interim administrator at an annual salary of $62,000.

"I believe the contract's extravagant for our community," said Pirman, a former Columbia Township administrator. "It's comparable to what an administrator would be paid in a township of 50,000 residents and full services. Every service we offer is contracted out except for street cleaning and road repairs."

Lemon said with his new contract he's still the lowest paid full-time township administrator in Hamilton County. "I am singly performing the services that most other townships have a support staff for, ranging from 12 to 22 people," Lemon said. "I also have undertaken the writing and preparation of resolutions that the township previously paid legal counsel to do at a cost of $150 an hour."

Township resident Laura Thurn said she's glad Lemon will continue as administrator.

"I've never seen the township run so professionally," she said. "I think Michael has been doing an extraordinary job."


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