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Council raises questions about solicitor’s resignation PDF Print E-mail
Monday, December 02, 2013 9:00 PM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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SPENCERVILLE — Spencerville Village Solicitor Al Smith’s resignation was under question Monday during the village council meeting. Smith resigned in September but said he would stay on until the village found a replacement.

As reported during the Nov. 4 council meeting, Johnson said that after receiving Smith’s resignation letter in September, he had been in contact with other municipalities inquiring about legal representation. He said the trend is that municipalities do not have one main solicitor and they use firms with multiple attorneys since many attorneys do not have the time to dedicate themselves to one municipality.

In addition, Johnson said the village will use lawyers from the Lima firm Cory, Meredith, Witter, Anderson & Smith Professional Legal Association with Smith as its legal representation with Steven Kessler sharing the solicitor’s duties.

Kessler was introduced by Smith to council during the Nov. 18 meeting. He explained that Kessler, who graduated from Ohio Northern University Law School, and he would be splitting time as village solicitor.

An inquiry from council member Michael Bice opened discussions regarding the resignation.

“You tendered you resignation, Al,” Bice said. “Do we need council’s action on that?”

Mayor P.J. Johnson said that council would be presented with an ordinance, which they would act on. He said that there have been a few questions about securing representation for the village and reflected back on the statements from the Nov. 4 meeting.

“Municipalities do not have full-time representation,” he explained. “They (legal council) only come to meetings with hot topics and firms handle the representation rather than any one individual.”

In short, there are multiple representatives for villages.

“An ad was put out there and I received some names,” Johnson said. “After researching the potential candidates, I did not find a good fit.”

Johnson said he was thankful Smith came forward and said he represents the community very well and has the village’s best interest at heart.

Smith said it was clear no one was interested in the job (as solicitor). He also made it clear that if council members had someone else in mind, he would again tender his resignation.

“I don’t get paid much to do this,” he added. “I lose money.”

He said a flat fee may not be financially feasible for the village.

“It’s never been about the money for me, though,” Smith added.

Councilman John Miller said a discussion he had triggered the conversation about the resignation.

“Somebody showed interest and that’s where it may have come from,” Miller stated.

“Some were passed over due to their history,” Johnson said. “That’s why I did my own investigating. The company they keep was negative.”

“When Al tendered his resignation, I felt we needed to keep him on until the water treatment plant is complete,” Miller added.

As reported during the Nov. 18 meeting, councilman Michael Bice said that there have been people driving on the sidewalk on Fourth Street and driving down the alley near that location the wrong way. Johnson said he would pass the information to Police Chief Darin Cook.

“If Chief Cook or another officer sees someone driving over the curb or sidewalk, they will get ticketed,” Johnson was firm. “I gave a citation out three courts ago for that very same offense.”

“I spoke to the resident (whose curb and walk is being driven over) and told him to buy metal fence posts and snow fence and put that up where people are driving,” Cook stated. “It is the homeowner’s responsibility.”

Cook also reported that one of the Toughbook laptop computers utilized in a cruiser is out of commission. A new comparable unit, which would have shock absorbers to take the wear and tear of being in a cruiser, will cost close to $750. Cook said they will also take the computers from the patrol car and bring it inside each night to eliminate any condensation from varying temperatures.

During the Oct. 21 meeting, Cook said the police department has been running on a skeleton crew. With both full-time officers absent, he said he is the only full-time officer manning the department. He said he has a lot of vacation time coming and should not have to forfeit the time.

“I have 92 hours of vacation and 16 hours of personal time to take this year,” Cook stated. “I’d like council to consider carrying over the time to next year when the village is more stable.”

Village Clerk/Treasurer Dawn Bailey said those matters are adopted by ordinance.

“I’m not saying he (Cook) doesn’t deserve it,” she added. “It sets a precedent. Sick time carries over, but with vacation time, it’s use it or lose it.”

“We can’t survive on two full-time officers only,” Cook stated. “Part-time officers can only work 28 hours or we have to pay insurance.”

“Because of our group size, we fit into a different category,” Johnson added. “A part time officer can work no more than 30 hours over 40 weeks in one year’s span of time.”

On another topic, Cook asked council if they noticed their windows shaking.

“I found out what’s been doing that — cannon mortars,” Cook said.

Cook reported the resident has no license for the cannon mortars and explained to the resident the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) would be interested in talking with him. The resident claimed his buddies hooked him up with the materials for the canon mortars.

“He will get a visit from the ATF for shooting them off within city limits,” Cook said. “He was setting these off back during Summerfest.”

Council also passed three resolutions on their third reading including: Resolution #13-31, Authorizing Reliable Plumbing and Heating Contract for Utility Bill Collection; #13-32, Authorizing EMS Contract; and #13-33 Authorizing Fire Contract.

Village Administrator Sean Chapman reported that he spoke with Mayor Johnson after the Oct. 18 village council meeting where Girl Scout Troop 20372 requested funds — estimated from $200 to $400 — from council for the remodeling of the Spencerville Scout Hall bathroom.

“I contacted the troop leader to advise them that we would purchase the materials necessary for them to complete the project,” Chapman said. “I will work with the troop on purchasing the supplies and help in any way to see the project through.”

As Chapman reported at the last meeting, the controlling board and the transfer switch for the generator at the waste water treatment plant was damaged during the storm on Nov. 11.

“We had Buschur Electric replace one of the components to get the generator up and running; however, there was another item that was bad,” Chapman said.

Buschur Electric provided a proposal to replace the existing transfer switch, which is being submitted to the insurance company due to the cost — an estimated $15,000. Chapman added the village has had a great track record with The Ohio Plan and have had very few, if any, claims since joining. He said he was hopeful the claim will not result in an increase of the village’s annual premium.

Chapman said the street crew repaired a main water line break in the alley behind 107 N. Main St. The repair required digging around the main natural gas line to access a small hole in the pipe, which required a 6 x 8-inch clamp. In addition, on Nov. 25, Chapman took advantage of the vendor’s annual sale to stock up on $7,000 worth of repair clamps for 2014. The clamps (80) and invoice will not arrive until after the first of the year.

“It may be time to begin serious discussions regarding the collection of the village’s utilities bills,” Chapman said. ” I would like to consider having a Utilities Committee meeting to discuss this issue further.”

As reported at the Nov. 18 meeting, Chapman has proceeded with securing a new Construction Administrator (CA) for the water treatment plant project and with the assistance of Mayor Johnson and Richard Kirk of Kirk Bros., Inc., has drafted a Scope of Services for the new CA. Chapman said he had contacted Peterman Associates, Inc. from Findlay, who have shown an interest in the project.

“I am hoping to recommend a new CA to council by the Dec. 16 Council meeting,” Chapman reported. “I have met with two firms who I feel are both more than qualified to perform these services for the village. I am going to request cost proposals from each and make a recommendation to council.”

“We have exceeded the CA budget on the water treatment plant,” Johnson stated “Any additional costs from the CA will be Kirk Bros. responsibility to pay.”

Chapman explained he had a meeting with Dennis Feltner, who is the WSOS representative administering the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program.

“As you may recall, we were granted close to $11,682 for the demolition of vacant residential structures within the village,” Chapman said. “We were unable to obtain owner consent forms from either property and did not find out until later that we can have our attorney take legal action and get the demolitions completed in that manner.”

Chapman said Feltner stated the village still has time to get a couple of demolitions in, but will need to act swiftly.

“It will be $11,000 for two demolitions, which is in the budget,” Johnson said.

Chapman said he received notice that the OPWC application for funding a street resurfacing program in 2014 was approved for a grant in the amount of $78,000. The total estimated cost of the project is $115,000 and involves the planing and resurfacing of the following streets: Seventh Street; Canal Street between Second and Fourth streets; Sixth Street between Elizabeth and Michael; Pearl Street between Second and Fourth streets; and Michael between Fifth and Sixth streets. It also includes the leveling of two sanitary sewer manholes.

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 9:29 PM
 

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