Athens City Council Approves Pay Increase Of New Arts, Parks and Recreation Director

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Athens City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to give Mayor Steve Patterson the ability to hire a new director for the Athens Arts, Parks and Recreation Department with a 34% pay increase.

The council’s authorization of the 34% pay increase will bring the new director’s salary to $68,000.

First Ward Representative Arian Smedley voted against the authorization to approve the new rate, citing financial concerns.

“My main concern is the financial struggles this particular department has and how much money we’ve had to move into this department to cover payroll,” Smedley said.

As it stands now, Mayor Steve Patterson plans to offer the job to Katherine Ann Jordan.

Ann Jordan will come into the department after arts, parks and recreation made headlines this summer after a number of lifeguards quit over claims of poor working conditions.

“It gives us a huge opportunity now to re-establish the trust for those who used that recreational asset,” Patterson said. “I know Katherine Ann Jordan is the right person to do that.”

Ann Jordan is a visiting professor at the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. She holds a Ph.D. in parks, recreation and tourism, a master’s in recreation and leisure studies and bachelor’s degree in recreation management.

She holds strong skills on the parks and recreation side but has little arts background, which was a concern for at least one council member.

“I think they are fairly separate disciplines to master,” council member at-large Ben Ziff said. “You wouldn’t want to hire someone to run a theater if they had a background in strictly outdoor management.”

Ziff voted in favor of the hire but said Ann Jordan must show she wants to improve the arts early.

“She needs to acknowledge the deficit in this skillset,” he said. “Early on she needs to rely on people who already exist in that department and learn from them on how the world of art is supposed to be managed.”