ProMedia was hired by the city’s administration after its previous communications director was fired.
Before Leah Farris, the city’s former communications director was terminated, the city council moved the money to fund the position under the city’s parks department.
City Councilman Ed Zastawny said the council supported Farris, but the move to the parks department was to ensure that she was doing more than serving as the mayor’s communications director. After the move to the parks department, Farris was let go and the board of public works contracted with ProMedia in November 2012 to take over the city’s communication duties.
The deal drawn up at the time paid ProMedia $4,800 per month, or $57,600 annually. According to the city’s budget in 2013, the communications department funding was in a parks department line item for a newsletter. But the costs were a combined total for both a quarterly newsletter and the salary for a communications director, which was being filed by the contract with ProMedia.
The line item totaled $87,400 in 2013. That line item was removed in 2014.
An attempt was made to move the funding into the board of public works budget earlier this year, after a certified budget was returned by the Department of Local Government Finance. The council voted in April on an appropriation ordinance to address cuts made to the parks budget, but chose not to move the requested $87,400 from the parks budget into the board of public works budget.
City Controller Amy Deering said for 2014, the money for communications was moved to the board of public works budget and was within the “other services” line item. The total requested in the other services line item in 2013 was $31,640. The new total requested in 2014 totaled $107,600.
“We had moved that budget in the proposal for next year into the board of public works,” Deering said. “That’s technically where it was cut from during the meeting.”
The amount the council approved was $31,640, cutting the $75,960 that was designated for communications.