McBirney named Aurora’s acting fire chief; administrative position created

AURORA — The city now has an acting fire chief, and council has approved a new position called the human resources and city hall administrative coordinator.

At its August 15 meeting, Council confirmed Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin’s appointment of Matthew McBirney as interim chief. The appointment took effect on August 13 and he will also retain his current position as Deputy Chief.

The mayor said McBirney will serve as interim leader until a permanent leader is selected. This is a non-exempt position with pay increased by $5 per hour from $49.85 to $54.85.

He replaces David Barnes, who retired Aug. 12 after 45 years with the fire department, including 19 as chief.

Director of Human Resources/Chief of Staff Karen Pope said the classified, non-exempt, non-union administrative coordinator position combines the part-time positions of receptionist/secretary and human relations assistant into one position at full-time.

The position was reviewed by the Civil Service Commission and the tests were scrapped. The pay range would be between $19 and $25 per hour.

In other personnel matters, the Board approved a salary increase for Acting Chief Financial Officer Leah Cellura from $40.04 to $45 per hour, slightly increased the pay rate for the Service Technician eau Nathan Cavanaugh and hired Gavin Andomaites as a sports instructor.

Council also confirmed the Mayor’s appointment of Stan Smith as an alternate member of the Architectural Review Board. He is an agent at RE/MAX Traditions in Chagrin Falls. The board created the alternate seat in May.


A deal has been approved to sell 2.77 acres of land along Page Road to Benjamin and Stephanie Tatonetti for $149,9000. It is part of the Pennock family farm which the city purchased last year.

A handful of legislative articles were moved to second reading.

One was a modified tax abatement for Community Reinvestment Zone 1 for C Realty (K&M Tire), as the company’s plans now call for a new 130,000 square foot building on Francis D. Kenneth Drive instead of the 65 000 square feet previously planned.

The reduction would be 15 years at 100% for an investment of 9.1 million dollars. The site plan is currently under review by the planning commission. The company plans to employ 26 people within three years for a payroll of approximately $1 million.

Real estate rates and amounts for 2023, as determined by the Portage County Budget Commission, passed second reading. They must be submitted to the county auditor by October 1.

An internal tax rate of 2.4 mills would generate revenue of $1.96 million, while a police force, two fire departments, a road and bridge, and a recreation bond – totaling 5.07 mills – would yield 2 .2 million. The city’s total tax mile for 2023 is set at 106.81.

Multiple Sections in the Codified Ordinance Chapter 161 “Employees in General” passed second reading. They would update outdated language and add Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a city-recognized holiday. The sections relate to employee dishonesty, sick leave and start-up pay.

The final item for second reading is the online auction via of a 2008 Ford Escape, several four-drawer filing cabinets and a Neopost envelope inserter.

Cellura said city fund balances remain healthy at $16.39 million unencumbered in the general fund and $38.2 million unencumbered in all funds.

Service Manager Harry Stark is asking residents to be patient as the city completes its road sign upgrade, which is expected to be completed in about three months.

Councilman John Kudley has had the field service repair planters along Route 43 in the Geauga Lake neighborhood, which he says are “falling apart” and plagued with weeds.

Police Chief Brian Byard said the city has no objection to transferring a liquor license from the Aurora Inn to Bauer Hospitality, and Council Chairman George Horvat noted that the Council Chambers’ new video equipment seemed to work well.

Comments are closed.