2007-03-03 / News

Thornville administrator resigns

By Scott Rawdon

THORNVILLE- Thornville Village Administrator Josh Eg g l e s t o n s u bmi t t e d h i s resignation to the Thornville Village Council Monday night, effective Wednesday, April 4. He's held the village administrator position for 14 months, and it is his first position in public management.

In a statement to council, Eggleston said, "I must admit that holding this post has not been easy, however it has been a very rewarding experience to work with the village in achieving all that has been accomplished in the last several months. Therefore, it is with mixed emotions that I submit to you this letter of resignation." He will be available to the village to answer questions following April 4. He was not specific as to where he would be working at that time other than saying within his statement, "a new professional opportunity in the municipal management profession now awaits" him. He thanked the members of council, Mayor Dale Brussee, and the village employees for his tenure.

Brussee recommended that the village replace Eggleston's, as opposed to creating a Board of Public Affairs. Council member Kevin Howell suggested placing a time limit on the interview process, and creating a Board of Public Affairs if an acceptable candidate isn't found within that period. "We should be prepared to revert to a Board of Public Affairs," he said.

Some council members were concerned that the village isn't able to afford an experienced village administrator to replace Eggleston, who began the position shortly after graduating from college.

"We may not get that lucky twice" to findan administrator with Eggleston's skills in his price range, said resident Dick Krumlauf.

Eggleston suggested requiring applicants to submit an expected salary range with their resumes.

Th e v i l l a g e p e r s o n n e l committee will work on an adve r t i s ement for a ne w administrator, but some council members are open to the possiblity of creating a Board of Public Affairs if necessary.

In other council news:

+ It's important to clarify a statement made by council President Jim Royer during the Feb. 12 village council meeting. He said he and others from the village attended a recent meeting at Lakewood High School concerning a proposed steep sewer rate hike for areas served by the Licking County Water and Wastewater department. He said Feb. 12 that Thornville residents should be "scared to death" to enter into an agreement with Perry County to extend sewer services after seeing what is happening in Licking County. He said if Thornville doesn't handle negotiations properly with Perry County--the village council is considering extending its sewer services to the south bank of Buckeye Lake in cooperation with Perry County--the county could monopolize all of Thornville's excess capacity. If so, Thornville residents would be responsible for expanding Thornville's sewer plant and avoiding any fines. His statement was misinterpreted by local media in a previous story.

+ Fiscal Officer Melissa Tremblay said she strongly disagreed with a statement made by Brussee that a deficitin the police department's budget was a "bookkeeping error." Brussee maintained that the police department's budget was designed to be "zeroed out" by the general fund. When the general fund went into debt, there was no funding available to balance the police department's budget. There were no accurate clerical records kept to show that the general fund was going into debt.

Tremblay said that calling the deficit a "bookkeeping error" made it sound as if all the blame could be placed on a former village clerk. "I feel that if everyone (the mayor, administrator, clerk, and council members who were in power at the time) would've been doing their jobs, the problem never would have arisen. Basically, they spent more than they had and at the time nobody caught it until they had the auditors come in and reconstruct the books," she said, adding that it was a "spending error."

Council member Charlie Hale said, "We didn't know that we were broke--period! We were working off of false numbers."

+ Eggleston said new staffing requirements adopted by the state late last year require the Operator in Charge to work at the wastewater facility for a set number of hours per week. This now means the licensed operator can't work elsewhere on the system and requires another licensed operator to cover for vacations etc.

Since the village has only one full-time licensed operator and one part-time unlicensed operator, he said the village will have to add another licensed operator. While the village has four years to comply, Eggleston said the village needs to start now on finding someone now since the current operator could retire in a couple of years.

+ Council is considering how to collect unpaid utility bills. One ordinance being considered would allow the village to place a tax lien on the property for any unpaid utility bills. It also includes a provision that property owners, instead of tenants, would be billed.

+ B r u s s e e a n d c o u n c i l members publicly apologized to resident Terry Anderson, who said he was being harassed by a village employee during recent snowfalls. He said during the Feb. 12 council meeting that a village snowplow driver blocks his parked vehicle with snow. Anderson presented council with photos to back his claim. The employee was ordered to write a letter of apology to Anderson, but council members agreed that the letter was "unacceptable."

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