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North Perry mayor discusses 'toxic workplace environment' for some village employees

News-Herald - 4/24/2024

Apr. 10—North Perry Village Mayor Brian Titus wants to eliminate what he described as a toxic workplace environment for employees in the community's parks and maintenance department.

Titus addressed that subject at the Village Council meeting on April 4.

The topic arose after North Perry resident Larry Reichard asked Titus why village Service Director Jeramy Johnson was absent from the council meeting.

Village administrators generally attend the meetings and sit at the head table, along with North Perry's council members.

Titus said he directed Johnson not to attend the meeting. He then launched into an explanation about the work atmosphere faced by Johnson and other village employees who are part of the parks and maintenance department.

"I feel like the village has become a toxic workplace environment, mainly because of some of things that our parks and maintenance workers have to put up with, as far as being criticized, being told," Titus said. "At some point, I feel like our workers need to be shielded from that. People shouldn't have to go to work and get accosted for the things that they do, constantly."

Titus and village resident Bryce Tischer were the only people at the meeting to speak about the difficulties faced by the workers.

Comments by Titus and Tischer portrayed an atmosphere in which the employees, while working in village parks or on other properties, often have been confronted by residents and criticized or lectured about their performance.

The actions by these residents haven't helped the village in retaining workers, Titus said.

"Over the past eight years, we have lost six employees in our parks and maintenance department," he said.

Tischer said the residents who are approaching them to personally criticize them need to end that practice.

"We don't want to keep losing good people who come to work here," he said. "Because some of those guys in the past who have left are outstanding and doing well in other communities."

Tischer noted that every time the village loses a parks and maintenance worker who has been trained, it costs the community money.

"And then we have to hire and train somebody else," he said.

Titus, in response to Reichard's question about Johnson's whereabouts, emphasized that Johnson wanted to attend the council meeting.

"He did not like not coming this week," Titus said. "He's going to be back. But I think he needs a little more training and preparedness."

Titus also said he believes that the current employees in the parks and maintenance department "are doing a fantastic job."

"I think myself and council need to do a better job of protecting our workers from outside influences and make sure they know how important they are to the community," he said, in an April 7 follow-up interview.

Titus also announced that Mike Cutler resigned on March 12 as the village's public works superintendent. His resignation took effect immediately, according to a letter from Cutler provided by Titus.

Cutler, in his resignation letter, said his decision to resign stemmed from the way other village government leaders handled a situation involving an employee in the community's parks and maintenance department.

Cutler was working remotely in Florida at the time of the incident. He spent about four months working in Florida each year, an arrangement that was approved by Titus.

In his letter, Cutler wrote that council had an issue with an employee who worked directly under the public works superintendent's supervision. Cutler stated that he ended up finding out about this issue from the employee, but was not notified of the matter by any other leaders in village government.

The fact that village government officials did not inform him promptly about the issue "displays the lack of respect to work together as a team and only creates divide," Cutler wrote.

"Current situations lead me to believe some on council are losing confidence in the process," Cutler wrote. "I feel the time has come for me to step aside for the best interest of the community."

Titus, in an April 7 interview, said the issue involving the employee "was a procedural one and action has been taken to ensure proper protocol will be followed going forward." He declined to provide more specific details.


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