Buckeye Lake debate gets heated
BUCKEYE LAKE – A Buckeye Lake Village Council member was warned to cool down or be asked to leave a contentious meeting Monday night. Council member Jeryne Peterson has been very concerned that village administrators are doing too much on their own without council consent and voiced her opinion, particularly as it applied to a tabled ordinance that was brought back to the floor.
“This has already been enacted by (Mayor Rick Baker) and his staff,” she said, addressing Baker and council President Charlene Hayden. “Both of you are arrogant and disgusting! You’re always taking exception.”
“If you don’t stay in order, we’ll ask you to leave,” replied Hayden. She said Tuesday that in December when the budget was established, the Water Department asked that $50,000 be appropriated in the Capital Improvements Fund in case something unforeseen, or something not under warranty, would go wrong at the pump station or the water tower, which council approved.
Then, in February, it was determined that the Water Department needed additional equipment. At that time, a bond was issued in the amount of $120,000 to cover the potential equipment purchase. Council approved the bond issuance sometime in late February or early March. The legislation discussed Monday night, said Hayden, is simply appropriating $110,000 of the $120,000 for the Capital Improvement Fund, which makes a total appropriation for this year of $160,000. “Now that sum of money is available for any breakdowns in the system and the purchase of some necessary equipment for the Water Department,” she said. “A couple things on the equipment list are a simple truck for water department use and a multi-use vacuum trailer. The vacuum trailer can exercise valves, dig holes, excavate, power wash, clean catch basins, et cetera.”
Fiscal Officer Vince Popo said the $50,000 was placed as a line item temporarily before it was decided what the village needed to buy. He said he and the village’s department heads sat down and discussed what each needed for the various departments. Popo said both the village finance committee and the council were aware of the equipment needed.
“I’m sorry if anyone feels like the wool was pulled over anyone’s eyes,” said Popo. “You all signed it. I can’t get a bond on my own.”
He warned council members that the village has financial challenges coming, mainly due to the cost to maintain public property (roads and so forth) within annexed areas. “You’re all going to have some really tough, hard decisions to make,” said Popo.
Peterson was the sole vote against the appropriation legislation discussed Monday night.
In other council news:
• Jobes Henderson & Associates engineer Susan Derwacter told council members that the curb and sidewalk project on Hebron Road likely wouldn’t be completed by July 3 as some had expected.
However, she said all the orange barrels and traffic cones will be gone during the village’s Fourth of July activities and any open spaces between the pavement and future sidewalk will be filled so they can be walked upon. Derwacter expects the curbs and sidewalks to be installed by July 13.
Council member Kaye Hart- man said the contract stipulated that the project be completed by July 3. Since that’s probably not going to happen, she wondered what recourse the village could take.
Derwacter said Licking County would collect any monetary refunds or penalties to the contractor since a county grant is funding the project.
Peterson said she wanted to be certain there would be no safety hazards to visitors or residents during the Fourth of July festivities associated with the unfinished sidewalk and curb project. Derwacter said there wouldn’t be any.
Street supervisor Mark Dymek said the project experienced some managerial changes, which may have slowed the construction process.
• Newark Department of Community Development grant writer Barbara Gilkes, who is administrating the Move Ohio Forward Grant program locally, said Tuesday that she believes Buckeye Lake Village can receive grant money – some requiring matching funds, some not – toward the more than 20 demolitions of derelict homes that Baker would like to see take place. However, Buckeye Lake will need to determine the costs for demolition and associated expenses such as asbestos inspections and possible removal; and then pay it up front. The grant program would then reimburse the village’s actual expenditures less any matching funds committed by the village. Gilkes said the village has shown “great commitment” toward securing as much of the grant money as possible.
The money from the state’s $75 million Moving Ohio Forward Grant program, of which Licking County received $1,029,355, can only be used to demolish uninhabitable residences, not commercial structures.
Baker’s determined to demolish as many of the decaying homes as possible. “This is my number one thing,” he said. “We’ll do what it takes.”
• Baker said council committees are still discussing the fate of a newly created water supervisor position. Some residents and council members have objected to the new position’s $45,000 starting salary, which would make it the highest paying position in the village. Baker is still expected to appoint current part-time water tech Toby Miller, to the newly created water supervisor position.
Miller also works at the Licking County 911 center. “(Miller) still doesn’t feel comfortable, and either do I, with giving him a start date,” said Baker. “I would hate for him to start and also give notice at his other job, then council deciding they want something else.”
• Hayden said attendance at Sunday’s Buckeye Lake Fest fell from last year, but “was just as successful.” She said, “I want to recognize John Sproat for all his work in making the festival a great event.”