The Journal Gazette
Sunday, October 18, 2020 1:00 am

Council administrator seeks help

Says job has changed, wins praise for savvy in city government

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

In the three years since she was hired by the Fort Wayne City Council, Megan Flohr's duties have far exceeded her initial job description.

Consistent workload increases over the past several years have prompted the need to expand the City Council's administrative staff, Flohr said during Tuesday's council meeting. The council administrator is held in high regard by all the council members, who often praise Flohr for her work ethic, problem-solving skills and efficiency.

Flohr was hired in January 2017 after former Council Administrator Molly McCray retired.

“She actually knows the inner workings of the city better than many of us here, as far as the ways the different departments work,” Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, said. He also noted that Flohr helps research and write much of the legislation that moves through the City Council, in addition to serving as the board's main point of contact with constituents.

Flohr was on hand Tuesday to discuss the City Council's 2021 budget, which will be part of deliberations of the overall city budget later this month. The council must decide whether to impose any cuts to city departments' proposed budgets.

Budget approval is required by Oct. 31, under state law.

“The job I was originally hired to do, we have kind of transitioned through into a kind of different position,” she said.

Flohr's proposed budget reevaluates her position and hires a new citizen services coordinator to serve as a front-line person working as a direct liaison with the public. The proposed budget also includes a pay increase for Joe Bonahoom, the council's attorney.

Bonahoom's $42,500 annual salary would increase to $55,000 under the proposed 2021 budget. The council administrator position would earn $70,000 a year, and the new citizen services coordinator would earn $50,000.

Flohr earned $53,388 in 2019.

According to a draft job description, the citizen services coordinator position would act “as the primary intake officer for all citizen needs” and would work with city staff to identify solutions. The coordinators would also monitor city boards for topics that will affect residents and provide resident guidance.

Flohr would supervise that position.

An amended job description for Flohr's position states the administrator position will continue to play myriad roles, including public information services; produce Councilman Tom Didier's “Council Call-In” television program; and be a liaison to city and Allen County departments.

Flohr will also assist council members with research and analysis, and draft ordinances and resolutions, as needed.

A new staff member is necessary “primarily because the administration is reducing its responsibilities and the amount it communicates with us as the legislative branch,” Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said.

“This has reached the point where we as the legislative branch, regardless of our political ideology, I don't think we can function properly,” Jehl said.

Jehl noted that he would like to pair the expansion of council staff with “an appropriate cut” in the executive branch's budget, specifically highlighting the mayor's public information office as one possibility.

Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, said he's never worked with anyone quite like Flohr, in either public or private sector positions. Hines praised both her efficiency and insight.

“It's greatly needed and for her to expand and share that skill set with an assistant would be great,” he said.

Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, added that the praise heaped upon Flohr during Tuesday's meeting was not an exaggeration, describing her as a “high-value employee” who deserves more resources.

The value that the taxpayers get for the very small amount of Megan's salary is absolutely incredible and if we can get somebody that is even half as efficient as Megan to work under her, I think that would be a great service to our community and to the taxpayers,” he said.

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