Oregon Administrator Ken Filipiak is resigning. He will be the new city manager of Mentor, located just east of Cleveland, on the south shore of Lake Erie. His resignation is effective Nov. 28.
The Mentor City Council voted unanimously at a special meeting on Saturday to hire Filipiak, according to Mentor City Council President Bob Shiner. The city has a population of over 50,000, more than twice the size of Oregon’s 18,000.
City government is based on a city manager executive appointed by council instead of an elected mayor form of government. The city manager is accountable to city council.
Shiner said over 100 people applied for the spot, which has been temporarily filled by the police chief since May, when the former city manager retired.
Filipiak came out on top because of his “diverse background,” said Shiner.
“We found him to be a very smart guy. It all looked good on the resume and the interview process,” said Shiner.
Filipiak told The Press last week that the move “is a big step up.”
“For me, the opportunity came along to be a city manager,” said Filipiak. “There’s a little bit more authority. It won’t be a whole lot different than the duties I perform here, just on a bigger scale.”
Filipiak was hired as administrator in November, 1999.
“I’m proud what we’ve been able to accomplish in Oregon,” he said.
“One of the things I’m proudest of is that Oregon is on sound financial footing right now. We have a general fund carryover of about $11 million. When I started, our carryover was close to $1 million,” he said.
He also presided over the extension of sanitary sewer service from 60 percent to 100 percent of the community.
“I’m also proud of the economic development efforts. We’ve added hundreds of jobs and brought a lot of new businesses to the community that have really helped us weather this economic downturn,” he said.
New companies include Fresenius, Caraustar, Trublue, NS Advanced Engineering.
“These are all new companies that have come to Oregon that I’ve been very proud to work with. We’ve been able to get the Cedar Point Industrial Park up and running. We worked with BOC Americas, a new company doing business in the city. We were able to work very closely with the Department of Transportation and the City of Northwood to bring the Menards commercial complex near Curtice Road. Over time, those out-lots will fill up,” he said.
“We’ve also done a lot to improve the aesthetics of the community. There are some people who would like to see some tweaking of our code with respect to architectural standards and signs, but overall, I think it’s added to the beauty of our community,” he said.
In addition, the park system has expanded during his tenure.
“We’ve expanded the park system tremendously, just here in the municipal complex alone. We’ve been able to add about 90 acres worth of parkland, much of which is developed. The Koontz complex, and new soccer fields on the southern portion of our municipal complex - none of that existed when I was hired 10 years ago,” he said.
What are some of the challenges facing Oregon?
“Oregon has so many assets. The biggest challenge for Oregon is to realize its full potential. The people who live here are very community oriented. Some of the strengths are the strong school system and the work ethic. I like communities like Oregon where families who grow up here tend to want to stay here because they realize the opportunity at home,” he said.
Other challenges include the need to focus on maintaining the job base.
“We must continue to provide a fruitful environment for companies to want to come and locate here, and look for ways to assist our existing businesses with business expansion. That’s really where we’ve had the greatest success – to work with our local companies,” he said.
The city is also going to “have to do whatever we can to support the school system.”
“I think they really are doing some hard work over there to let people know they’re going to be lean and mean as an organization. We have to maintain the quality of the school system during tough economic times,” he said.
Oregon, he added, continues to be a regional player.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a nice profile and we’re projecting a very positive image to northwest Ohio as a real powerhouse in terms of economic development and exploiting our assets. We have wonderful opportunities because of our access to the Port and our transportation network. And we need to continue to look beyond our borders and invite people in who can make a contribution.”
Filipiak, who was born and raised in Toledo, said he will miss his staff.
“We have a great staff here. I’m sorry to leave them behind. I know they’re going to continue to provide a great service to the community. I’m going to miss it. I loved every minute of it.”