BUCKEYE LAKE – Village council members voted 4 to 3 Tuesday night (the meeting was delayed a night due to the Memorial Day holiday ) to rescind an ordinance that, among other things, created the position of water department supervisor. However, Mayor Rick Baker said Wednesday that village solicitor Butch Bindley informed him that council’s action was invalid.
April 23, again by a 4-3 vote, council members created the position for a full-time water supervisor. The legislation also turned two currently part-time water department positions – clerk and laborer – into full-time positions. Baker planned to move part-time water tech Toby Miller into the new supervisor position. Some residents and council members have objected that the position’s $45,000 a year salary is too high. Miller would be the village’s highest paid employee.
At the April 23 meeting, several council members wanted the position to be discussed in more detail in committee. Finance Committee chair Kaye Hartman said committee members had reviewed the position and agreed its job description was vague, so they sent it to the personnel committee, where it was clarified. She said the next step was to go back to finance to discuss the salary.
Baker said the position had been under consideration for a long time and there was plenty of opportunity to have another finance committee meeting. Hartman said scheduling finance committee meetings is difficult and more time is needed. But, the ordinance to create the position was voted upon anyway, and passed.
Council’s action Tuesday night was intended to reverse the April 23 approval. During the April 23 meeting, council President Charlene Hayden, and council members Arletta Ruton, Gerry Neff, and Clay Carroll voted in favor of approving the ordinance to create the new positions. Tuesday night, Hayden, Ruton, and Neff voted not to rescind the ordinance and retain the new positions, but Carroll voted to rescind the ordinance along with Hartman and council members Jeryne Peterson, and Patrick Brighton.
Tuesday night, Carroll said he didn’t believe the proper procedures were followed when the ordinance was approved April 23.
Baker said he believed that council would need to create a new ordinance to rescind the April 23 ordinance, which would need to be done at the following council meeting. He added that, according to the village charter, council could only rescind an approved ordinance at the meeting immediately after it was approved. But, only two council members – Hayden and Ruton-were actually present for the scheduled May 14 meeting.
Peterson questioned whether there was a meeting on May 14 since a quorum was not present. Hayden said she believed a new ordinance would need to be created to overturn the April 23 ordinance, but she suggested council consult with Bindley.
“Don’t council members have the right to rescind?” said Peterson.
“I would like to hear what Butch has to say,” said Hayden.
Peterson said council asks Bindley questions; he doesn’t direct council’s actions.
“My feeling is the legislation was voted on,” said Baker, and new legislation to repeal the old ordnance needed to be introduced.
“There was no quorum (May 14),” said Carroll.
“If you want to reconsider, I have no problem with that,” said Hayden. It’s the procedure she worried about. She said she wished Carroll would’ve consulted with Bindley earlier. “Let’s get the procedure from Butch and go from there.”
Peterson said she agreed with Carroll that council hasn’t been following the charter correctly.
“I think it comes down to the vote didn’t go your way,” said Hayden to Peterson, who thought the comment was unprofessional on Hayden’s part. “We need to take control of what we’re doing back here,” said Peterson. “It’s not a one-person council.”
Ruton said Bindley should attend all council meetings to answer questions such as whether May 14 was a meeting since no quorum was present.
“Understand that it would cost us quite a bit of money,” said Hayden. Currently Bindley does not attend council meetings.
“It’ll save us a lot of heartache in the long run,” said Ruton.
Carroll moved to rescind the April 23 ordinance. Ruton said the whole issue could’ve been settled if the April 23 ordinance returned to the finance committee as requested.
“How refreshing it is to have a council that cares about council rules and the charter,” said former council member Peggy Wells following the vote. She said those who voted to rescind the ordinance were doing so on behalf of the other village employees and Buckeye Lake citizens. “I could tell you were really tormented about doing the right thing,” said Wells.
Resident Charlotte Basnet said it was embarrassing that five council members were absent from the May 14 meeting. “You have a duty to the people of the village,” she said. Basnet said she believes personalities sometimes lead council decisions more than reasoning.
Wednesday, Baker said he spoke with Bindley, who agreed that council should’ve introduced a new ordinance to counteract the April 23 ordinance, and Bindley agreed that the May 14 meeting was a legitimate meeting, even without a quorum.
“I’m happy with the way things turned out,” said Hartman Wednesday. She said the finance committee, which she chairs, will re-examine the position, its pay scale, and how it relates to other village pay scales. Hartman has no problem with introducing a new ordinance to counteract the old one, if that’s what’s necessary. “If we have to, we will,” she said. Hartman said it was important that council members spoke up during the meeting when they didn’t believe procedures were being followed correctly. She said she believes the water supervisor position is important, it should be filled soon, and she has said repeatedly that she has no problems with Miller and believes he does fine work for the village. But, she believes $45,000 per year plus benefits is too high for the position to start. “We shouldn’t have that pay without looking at everyone else’s pay,” said Hartman.
In other council meeting news:
• Wells wondered if the village would be reimbursed for paying the tuition and purchasing books for seven Buckeye Lake firefighters to take an EMT-Basic course. One firefighter moved before completing the course and is reimbursing the village. One successfully completed the course, but the other five did not, including two who were removed for cheating. Wells also said Fire Chief Pete Leindecker violated the village handbook by authorizing payment for two courses for his son. Baker said Wednesday that the whole situation is currently under investigation and declined comment as the investigation progresses.
• Hayden said she was asked why trees were removed from the Ohio 79 median. She said the only trees removed were those in the path of the upgraded storm sewer.
• Hayden said Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow is sponsoring the second annual Carp Fest June 8 – 10 at the North Shore Boat Ramp. This year the Buckeye Lake Historical Society is doing Cranberry Bog Day on June 16. The tours depart from North Shore boat ramp. Donations will be accepted.
• “I think (Buckeye Lake Fiscal Officer Vince Popo) is to be commended for the job he did getting donations for flags to hang from the poles throughout the village,” said Hayden. She said Buckeye Lake Hardware owner Tom Siefert ordered 63 flags and poles, and all the brackets to hang the poles at his expense. “Please stop in and thank Tom and his wife, Jodelle, for their generous contribution to the village.”