Former Columbus assistant planner returns for new job

Staff Reports

A former assistant planning director for the city of Columbus will return to the city in December as the new Metropolitan Planning Organization director.

Laura Thayer had accepted the MPO job and plans to return to Columbus in mid-December, said Jeff Bergman, planning director for the city and Bartholomew County.

Thayer first worked for the city in 2000 as an associate planner and was promoted to assistant planning director in 2001, Bergman said.

She worked for Columbus until 2011, when she took a job working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, researching the effect of Hurricane Katrina on historical structures in Louisiana and Alabama.

The director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization is responsible for transportation planning for the city, Bergman said. Thayer will be responsible for all documentation the city needs to receive federal transportation funding for upcoming projects.

Thayer replaces Laurence Brown, who left the city in March to move to Oregon, where he is a transportation planner for a suburb of Portland.

When he resigned, Mayor Kristen Brown recommended the city eliminate the job as a full-time position, saying the job was really about grant administration.

Instead, city officials decided to put the position within the planning department and asked Bergman to find a candidate to fill it.

Columbus’ newly approved salary ordinance for 2016 calls for the MPO director to be paid within a range of $45,678 to $65,254.