Mt. Sterling council at odds over minutes and president vote

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(Posted Dec. 13, 2018)

By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer

Mount Sterling council members argued about meeting minutes and the council president election at their Dec. 10 meeting.

Council member Tom Ward said notes about certain discussions are missing from the Nov. 14 meeting minutes. Among them are comments he said Mayor Billy Martin made to council as a whole and to a specific council member.

“I believe these minutes need to be changed because they are not a full description of the council meeting,” Ward said. “They do not give a full picture of the meeting, and I feel they need to be amended.”

Council members Lowell Anderson, Becky Martin and David Timmons voted to approve the minutes. Ward, Rebecca Burns and Tammy VanSickle voted against the approval. Mayor Martin broke the tie, voting “yes.” The minutes were approved.

When contacted after the meeting, Courtney Bricker, the village’s fiscal officer and clerk of council, said she contacted the State Auditor’s Office on Dec. 11 about the minutes. She said the state office reviewed the video recording of the Nov. 14 meeting and Bricker’s minutes.

“They said I provided what I needed to provide in the minutes,” Bricker said.

She said Ohio Revised Code requires meeting minutes to cover factual subject matter, including motions and actions taken on legislation. It does not require minutes to reflect “he said, she said” discussions or quotations, she said.

Council president

Council  voted on a president pro tem for 2019. Burns and Timmons were nominated for the seat.

Three votes were cast for Timmons by Anderson, Becky Martin, and Timmons himself. Three votes were cast for Burns by VanSickle, Ward and Burns herself. Mayor Martin cast the tie-breaking vote, giving Timmons the seat.

Later during round table discussion, Burns questioned the validity of the vote.

“According to the (Ohio Revised Code), it says you have to wait until the first meeting in January to elect a president of council. I am just curious why we bumped it up,” Burns said.

“You agreed to this and approved this when I previously asked council if I could do this,” Mayor Martin replied. “My thought was to hit the ground running next year, and everyone said they were fine with it.”

Mark Pitstick, the village’s law director, said he was sure a vote on president pro tem can take place prior to the start of a new year.

Bricker called the State Auditor’s Office on Dec. 11. She said the office confirmed that the vote is allowed.

Meetings

Council voted to cancel its last regular meeting of the year, which would have landed on Christmas Eve. However, Bricker said council plans to hold three special meetings on the 2019 budget before the year is over: Dec. 14 at 2 p.m., Dec. 17 at 2 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.

The budget requires three readings and must be passed before the end of the month.

The next regular council meeting is at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at village hall, 1 S. London St.

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