By Charles Prince
BUCKEYE LAKE – It turns out Buckeye Lake Village officials can work together.
Village Council’s October 22, meeting was the most productive in recent memory. The lengthy agenda included ordinances and resolutions that needed to be approved on the first reading to get bills paid; pay village staff; keep two critical, primarily grant-funded, projects with ODOT on track; accept a lower fixed electric rate; and a correct a mistake that was delaying a building project.
All ordinances and resolutions must be read three times before a final vote is taken. It takes a two-thirds majority of council (five votes) to suspend the three reading rule. With council member Arletta Ruton on vacation and council member Tom Wolfe absent due to death in his family, that meant it would take unanimous agreement to get anything done at the meeting.
The meeting was remarkably rancor free. The October 8, meeting minutes were unanimously approved. The financial reports were accepted by a 4-1 vote.
Parks and Recreation Commission member Kelly Green thanked the Knights of Columbus for replacing four of the eight picnic tables at Ryan-Braden Park. Commission members hope to replace the other four next Spring. Green said the Commission is working on getting some play equipment for tottlers.
Mayor Peggy Wells thanked Doug Stewart for his service as zoning inspector. He was forced to resign to retain his pension. “It will be hard to fill your shoes,” she said. The village is accepting applications for the part-time post until it is filled. Applications are available during regular business hours at the village offices.
Code enforcement officer Rex Atkins said 217 Renner has been cleaned up. So far, he reported, that 17 complaints have been cleared without citations. Three or four might have to be cited into Mayor’s Court.
Council member Doug Poorman DVM said the $10,000 challenge grant from Alex and Lori Fischer for exterior improvements to the Harbor Community Center has been meet. The Fischers matched every dollar donated to The Harbor up to $10,000. Poorman said $20,000 is now available for the improvements. He thanked the Fischers and donors for their generosity.
Poorman added that the Harbor’s fitness center, using equipment donated by the Pataskala YMCA, should be opening soon. There will be a small monthly fee to use the center. Poorman said two businesses – North Valley Bank and his own PetPlex Animal Hospital – will be subsidizing memberships for their employees.
Some of the credit for council’s amity should go to Police Chief Vicki Wardlow. She spoke about her frustration with the slow appropriation process. “Will I get a paycheck in three weeks?” she asked. “I just want to do my job.” She added that, “It is hard to actively recruit people when they don’t see a future.”
Water supervisor Toby Miller also expressed frustration in his report. He said two weeks from today we don’t have money to pay staff. “It is not a cash problem,” he explained. “It is an appropriation problem.” Miller turned aside council member Bob Masone MD question about responsibility for the problem. “We need to fix what’s going on now and get next year done (2019 budget) and then go back and figure out what happened.”
Wells highlighted a couple of items in her written report. “I know how hard she (the police chief) has worked,” she said. “We couldn’t have better people heading up our safety forces.” She added that the Licking County Land Bank has acquired the 340 Highland Avenue property. They should have it by the end of November, Wells said.
Council members then proceeded to unanimously suspend the three reading rule and adopt an appropriation amendment ordinance, an ordinance approving a change order for the Hunts Landing road improvement project, two ordinances keeping the ODOT projects on track, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with AEP Energy for a fixed price for electricity and resolutions removing a utility easement mistakenly placed on a Lakeview Drive lot and naming ADR & Associates of Newark as the engineering consultant on the municipal bridge project with ODOT. That primarily federally funded project will replace the two bridges currently used to access the former truck stop site will be replaced with one bridge.
At the end of the meeting, Poorman moved to go into executive or closed session to discuss personnel. No action was taken after council returned to their open session. Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, November 12, at the village offices.