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Wagner resigns from parks marketing coordinator job

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Ben Wagner, former director of Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, resigned today from his job as parks marketing coordinator.

His resignation is effective May 30, two weeks from today.

Wagner said he sent the resignation letter to the Columbus Parks and Recreation board today.

In his resignation letter, Wagner expressed appreciation to the parks board and parks employees.

Wagner has been at the center of an ongoing controversy between Mayor Kristen Brown, the parks board and the city council over who has the power to demote or fire a parks director and who is responsible for the city's parks department, the city administration or the parks board.

Brown demoted Wagner from parks director to marketing coordinator Dec. 30.

Brown alleges Wagner failed to implement financial controls that would have revealed that Commons restaurant tenant Snappy Tomato Pizza had not paid rent for all of 2013. The restaurant was told Dec. 23 it owed $27,237.52 in monthly payments, additional lease obligations and late payments for all of 2013. The mayor also accused Wagner of having questionable judgment in the use of parks department credit cards and failing to come up with financial options to eliminate a $6 million backlog in park facilities maintenance.

Wagner has said the mayor’s allegations were unfounded and did not merit reassignment or demotion.

On Jan. 21, the Columbus City Council votes to zero out the parks director salary in the city’s salary ordinance and move the money to the marketing coordinator position to keep the mayor from filling the position until the parks board has an opportunity to receive a legal opinion about whether the mayor had the authority to demote or fire a parks director. The city pays Wagner the director’s salary, $79,471, instead of the marketing coordinator’s salary of $40,883 until the matter is resolved.

For more on this story, see Tuesday's Republic.


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