A familiar face is getting a short-term deal from the city of North Olmsted to finish out several projects he has begun.
Former Safety/Service Director Chase Ritenauer has been rehired by the city as public works commissioner for the remainder of the year.
“It’s essentially a seven-month deal,” North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy said. “We’re not going to hire another one after Chase leaves. He’s just going to finish out some projects he has helped get started in the city, like the new trash and recycling services and other public works projects.”
Kennedy said the continuing work on the wastewater treatment plant expansion and deciding whether the city should do leaf pickup inhouse with city employees were other projects Ritenauer will be working on.
Kennedy said Ritenauer’s salary would be prorated, or around $70,000, for the seven-month period. He said the city would use funds remaining from his previous position remaining open after he resigned several weeks ago, and money saved from recent retirements such as the streets foreman position, which weren’t filled right away.
Ritenauer left the city in order to run in the Democratic primary for mayor in his hometown of Lorain – which he won over incumbent Tony Krasienko and another challenger. Federal officials told him he could not remain a director in the city of North Olmsted and handle grant funds while a candidate in the partisan race. They said he could do one or the other, and he chose to remain in the mayor’s race.
Kennedy said federal officials have sent a letter that indicates a commissioner’s position is an allowable position while he runs in the general election for mayor.
“They’ve approved that move, but this will only be for seven months, or until the start of the next year,” Kennedy said.
In recent years, the Democratic candidate has always won the Lorain mayor’s post, but Kennedy said even if Ritenauer does not triumph as he is expected to, the new North Olmsted post is only short-term.
“It’s only for those few months,” he said.
Ritenauer said he’s glad to be able to finish some work in North Olmsted.
“There are some major projects under way that I’ll be glad to give some needed attention to by being able to come back for a short time,” he said. “Projects like the trash pickup, the leaf pickup decision about whether to do it in house, the expansion at the wastewater treatment plant, the implementation of the energy grant work, will all require a lot of work, and we can get more done this way.”
Ritenauer said he also will be working with his successor, Scott Thomas, in different areas.
“I should be able to pass along some institutional knowledge in the different areas and make the transition a little smoother for city,” he said.
Ritenauer has already resumed work and is headquartered in the service department offices in the former bus garage.
City Council Finance Committee Chairman Paul Barker said he’s glad to have Ritenauer’s expertise back – if even for a short time.
“It should help the city get some needed work done better,” Barker said.