Ashland approves merger of depts.

ASHLAND, Ky. — The Ashland Board of City Commissioners on Thursday approved the consolidation of the Department of Economic Development with the Department of Planning and Community Development in a 3-1 vote.

The merger still needs final approval through a second reading next month. Economic Development Director Chris Pullem would head the new Community and Economic Development Department.

Pullem has overseen both departments since former Planning and Community Development Director Mike Miller resigned last October to become the head of the Ashland Housing Authority.

The merger would result in the Division of Assisted Housing, or Section 8, moving from the Finance Department to the newly formed department.

Pullem, who is the lone city employee in the Economic Development Department, would supervise 13 total employees. The city would also consider hiring an economic development specialist to assist in the additional workload if the merger is finalized.

Interim City Manager Steve Corbitt said the consolidation will save the city money, as the city wouldn’t fill the vacant community and economic development director position. Miller was receiving a yearly salary of $82,512, plus benefits.

Pullem was being paid based on a $74,804 salary until he received a 5 percent raise when he became acting planning and community development director. Pullem’s yearly salary would increase to $82,284 if the consolidation is approved, according to Assistant Finance Director Michelle Veach.

Commissioner Matt Perkins cast the only vote against the merger after posing a series of questions to the Finance Department and Pullem based on the expanded workload Pullem would undertake.

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