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City Council Hires Former Law Director on Temporary Basis

Roy Batista appointed as interim director; council committee to begin interviews of 16 applicants for new, full-time post.

A former North Canton law director has been appointed to serve in that position again – but only on a temporary basis until the city hires its first-ever full-time law director.

During a special meeting Wednesday, Roy H. Batista was appointed to serve as interim law director for up to 61 days. He will be paid $120 per hour for daytime work and $90 an hour for evening meeting attendance.

Council President Jon Snyder said city officials reached out to Batista to fill the gap between , and the hiring of the city’s first full-time attorney.

Batista, a North Canton resident since 1968, served as the city’s law director for more than 25 years, most recently from 2000-2003.

The lawyer, who maintains a practice near Belden Village, said Wednesday he’s more than happy to help the city out. “I’m glad it’s only a couple months. I can’t do too much damage in that time,” Batista said with a laugh.

Snyder said 16 attorneys have applied for the new full-time law post – created to deal with an ever-increasing workload – that was advertised as having an annual salary of $73,000 to $75,000, plus a benefits package valued at about $22,000 a year.

“The part-time law director’s contract called for 80 hours a month, but (he) was exceeding that because of the workload and that’s where the problem was. Over and above the 80 hours he was paid at an hourly rate, and from an economic standpoint we realized we needed someone in there full time,” Snyder explained.

Also, he said, city officials have realized the importance of having a full-time law director at City Hall during business hours to look at contracts and address other legal issues that crop up.

“We have a $44 million corporation, for lack of a better analogy, run by part-time directors that are the mayor and council. We need a full-time attorney to rely on, just as we do our full-time director of administration and full-time director of finance. We trust the integrity and knowledge of these people to run our ‘business’ on a day-to-day basis,” Snyder said.

Council’s personnel and safety committee – comprised of Snyder, Dan Griffith and Chairman Jeff Peters – will begin interviewing applicants starting Aug. 13. By late August, Snyder said, the list should be narrowed down to a handful of applicants that will go through a second round of interviews conducted by full council.

While three of the applicants are city residents, Snyder that’s not a requirement of the job.

“Most important to us is … comprehensive knowledge of municipal law. After that, we’re looking for someone we generally feel wants a future (in North Canton government). We don’t want someone who wants to move on in just two to three years,” he explained.

The applicants are:

  • Julie A. Bickis of North Canton
  • John L. Juergensen of North Canton
  • Donald P. Wiley of North Canton
  • Rodney A. Baca of Canton
  • Jeffrey L. Hendrix of Canton
  • Judith Ann Carlin of Hudson
  • William J. Krueger of Hudson
  • Dawn M. King of Deerfield
  • Todd B. Kotler of Massillon
  • James R. Russell Jr. of Medina
  • Susan Baker Ross of Mogadore
  • Sharon M. Wesselman of Mansfield
  • David W. Haverfield of Dover
  • Kathryn R. Oliver of Dover
  • Stephan P. Babik of Cleveland
  • Jack L. Feigenhauer of Nevada, OH
Patricia Davis August 03, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Roy Batista, Esq. was always good for the City of North Canton. Glad to have him back on-board! Welcome back, Roy!
Chuck Osborne August 03, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I am glad to see that city leaders have come to the same conclusion I came to nearly two years ago. At that time, city council was re-creating an assistant Director of Law position and I urged city council to make the position of Director of Law a full-time position. I addressed this issue at two successive city council meetings (September 13 & September 27, 2010). On January 30, 2012, I argued before council against the professional services agreement between the City of North Canton and the then law director’s law firm. The agreement, passed on an emergency as is most legislation from North Canton City Council. The agreement was touted as a way to give the city access to the law firm of Morrow & Meyer where former Law Director Hans Nilges was a partner and lower the city’s cost for a law director. The agreement was for one year, commencing, February 1, 2012. The agreement apparently did not measure up to the promises made in haste earlier this year. A review of each of those presentations to North Canton City Council pretty much says it all. They all can be found at http://opengovernment4nc.blogspot.com.

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