Swanton Mayor Calls for Organizational Assessment of SFRD, Council Hires New Finance Director

At the Swanton Village Council meeting of February 13th, Mayor Neil Toeppe recommended to Council that it accept the proposal from the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association to conduct an organizational assessment of the Swanton Fire and Rescue Department (SFRD) to find ways to improve the department for the benefit of the citizens of the Swanton community.  Mayor Toeppe cited a study that showed the negative impact of poor leadership, low morale and poor communication, inadequate compensation and other factors can lead to high turnover.  Exacerbating the problem, he said, is the labor shortage in this career field in Ohio and across the nation, which makes it easy for someone to leave and immediately find another job.  According to the Mayor, a similar assessment was completed on the Swanton Police Department a number of years ago and improvements were recommended and implemented.

“That tells me that we really need to address the issues I mentioned earlier, the leadership, morale, communication and bring in some professional help for us and help the department navigate those things so we can mitigate those concerns,” said the Mayor.  “It would look at all aspects of the area that we serve, the number of employees we have in each discipline, the equipment that we have, do we have enough, do we have too much, do we have the right equipment.  All of those things.”

The cost of the assessment would be $20,600.  After a brief discussion, Council members all agreed to the assessment and tasked Village Administrator Shannon Shulters to draft a Resolution to be voted on next meeting.   In 2021, Mayor Toeppe made a similar proposal to the then sitting Council, headed by Craig Rose.  The cost at that time was approximately $15,000 and was deemed unnecessary and summarily rejected. 

After interviewing four potential candidates for the Fiscal Director position, Holden Benfield was recommended to fill the job left vacant by the recent resignation of Jason Vasko.  Council members discussed the recommendation during an executive session and voted unanimously to accept it after reconvening in Council chambers.  Mr. Benfield resides outside the Village but within the Swanton Postal Code.  He received an undergrad degree and a Master’s of Science in Managerial Accounting from the University of Toledo. 

Mayor Toeppe announced that the first meeting of the Swanton Economic Development Commission (SEDC) was held last week to establish management criteria.  There will be six members on the committee including Swanton High School alumnus Mick Bryan, retired businessman and former president of an international company, Swanton resident and Swanton High School alumnus Eric Butler, currently serving as a vice-president for Key Bank, Chris Lake, Swanton resident and Superintendent of Swanton Schools, Councilman Mikey Disbrow, Administrator Shulters and Mayor Toeppe.  The SEDC will meet on the second Wednesday every other month.  The next meeting will be held on April 12, 2023.

Signage for the DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) have been arrived and will be installed by the Village maintenance crew in the near future.  The next Council meeting will take place on February 27, 2023 at 6:00 PM.

Photo: New Swanton Finance Director Holden Benfield

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