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Allowing Time For Discussion

It is understandable that new St. Clairsville Mayor Kathryn Thalman wants to get moving on her plans for new initiatives to benefit the community. It also is easy to see why some City Council members are ready to go along with her.

But creating a new $50,000-plus salaried position in city government at the drop of a hat may not be the best way for Thalman to proceed.

During a council meeting this week, Thalman recommended creation of a new director of development position in municipal government. She explained the person hired would be paid at a $48,500-per-year rate for the first six months, then would be increased to a $53,500 salary.

Council members held a half-hour closed “executive session” to discuss personnel. Whether the development director idea came up is not known — but if it did, it should not have. Thalman’s basic proposal should be talked about in an open meeting.

After leaving the closed session, council voted on whether to bypass normal procedure of reading ordinances three times and, instead, adopt the development director plan after just one reading Tuesday night. Most council members voted in favor of expediting the measure. Two — Linda Jordan and Frank Sabatino — voted against that.

Because such action requires more in-favor votes than were received, the development director proposal will have to go through two more readings. First reading was held Tuesday.

Thalman believes adding a development director to the city staff will be important in view of in-county development — specifically, a proposed ethane cracker plant. The new person “would be a liaison to business … helping me with internal development.” She added the new person could help change municipal procedures that “are antiquated, archaic and need fixed.”

It may be that Thalman is right. As she put it, “There’s a lot of things coming to the valley. We want to be a part of it.”

Still, change as big as the mayor proposes ought to be discussed prudently — and with time for members of the public to weigh in. Holding off a final vote on the matter will allow time for that process to take place.

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