By Jeff Gallatin
Bay Village officials believe Scott Thomas has hit all the right notes as service director and, as a result, he now be will be administering the Bay Village Police and Fire departments as well.
City Council Monday unanimously approved making Thomas safety-service director by adding administration of the city’s police and fire departments to his responsibilities. Thomas has been the city’s service director since the beginning of the year. Prior to joining the Bay Village administration as an assistant service director late in 2013, he had been the safety-service director for the city of North Olmsted.
Traditionally, the Bay Village mayor has been the city’s safety director. However, current Mayor Debbie Sutherland, who initiated the move, said she is glad to hand the reins over to Thomas. She noted the last time the city had a separate safety director was under former Mayor Tom Jelepis.
“He (Jelepis) had done it both ways in his administration, both having the mayor do the job and having a separate director,” she said. “After he left and I became mayor, we went back to the mayor doing it.”
Sutherland noted that there was a $5,000 stipend for a mayor to do the job, but said she didn’t think that was necessary for a seated mayor to be paid that since the mayor would be doing administrative work that needed to be done anyway. She said Thomas will receive the $5,000 stipend on top of his current $88,740 salary. Resident Conda Boyd, who attended the council meeting, said she would prefer to have ordinances pertaining to salaries go through the full three readings. She also said she hadn’t seen it initially on the agenda for the night’s meeting. Sutherland noted that it was indeed on the agenda, and council President Paul Koomar said he should have made it clearer when he was reviewing the agenda. All the parties agreed Thomas is qualified, with Sutherland saying he is well-suited to handle both departments.
“Scott’s a reformer and always looking for ways to improve how to do things,” she said. “He’s done that in the service department and he’ll continue to do that with the police and fire departments. The police department is undergoing some changes right now, and he’s well-suited to work with the police on the changes as well as with his past experience being someone all the safety workers can look to.”
Thomas worked 30 years as a police officer, including chief of detectives, for the city of Medina prior to working for North Olmsted.
Thomas likened being a director of multiple departments to being the conductor of an orchestra.
“You’re conducting several different sections or departments, all of which have a role to play,” he said. “All of us are working towards the same goal, which in this case is making sure the city of Bay Village and its residents are well taken care of.”
Thomas said the departments and their workers will make the job much easier.
“We’re fortunate to have very experienced, professional staffs in all of the departments who already have a high skill level,” he said. “They all conduct themselves in a professional manner and do their work well.”
He said the departments have already shown they can handle working together or taking care of each other’s separate responsibilities.
“They work well together in major events such as the upcoming Bay Days, or when they are dealing with major weather or other unexpected problems where they need to help each other out,” he said. “At the same time, they take care of their regular day-to-day work in each department.”
Thomas said he is looking forward to working even more closely with fire Chief Chris Lyons, police Chief Mark Spaetzel and their respective departments.
“The chiefs and their departments do their jobs very well, so it’s just a matter of continuing that and working together to find the ways to provide the best possible service,” he said.