(Posted Feb. 21, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Mount Sterling village council took up several pieces of legislation on Feb. 25 that were left in limbo at the previous meeting before which three council members resigned.
At the start of the Feb. 25 meeting, two new council members, Michael Bennett and Craig Hix, were installed. The six-person council needs at least four members present to read and act on legislation. Bennett and Hix bring council’s numbers to five.
Village administrator position
Council voted 5-0 to post the job opening for a village administrator. The village has been without an administrator for more than a year. Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer and council clerk, has been handling many of the duties.
Mayor Billy Martin said the Ohio State Auditor’s Office, which is overseeing the village’s finances, has urged the village to hire an administrator and to do so soon. The job comes with an annual salary of $63,000. New to the job description is the requirement that applicants have waste water and water operating licenses.
The administrator’s duties are to oversee the village and its employees. The person who fills the position will manage public utilities, supervise street and sidewalk maintenance, manage finances appropriated by council, prepare budgets, appoint and evaluate village employees, seek grant funding, supervise zoning and building requests, and handle bids and contracts for repairs, services and equipment, among other duties.
Public records requests
The village now has a policy that outlines how a person can request public records and how the village will fulfill those requests.
In the last month, a person made a large public records request, and Bricker discovered the village did not have a policy in place. Council member Becky Martin said a committee researched the public records policies of other cities and villages and modeled Mount Sterling’s new policy after Grove City’s.
The new policy, which council passed 5-0, defines public records, lists what kind of records can be released, outlines the hours public records are available and the cost for copies and mailing, and explains how a person can make a public records request.
A person requesting public records is not legally required to fill out a form, identify himself or herself, or provide the purpose for the request. The village does have a public records request form, though. A person making a request can choose to fill out the form, listing the records they want to see, which would, according to the policy, “allow the village to efficiently retrieve the records.”
The policy requires the village to provide prompt response to requests and provide copies, if requested, “in a reasonable period of time.” If records cannot be provided while the person requesting them waits, the village will contact the person when the records are available.
The records are available to view during regular business hours, weekdays 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Copies on 8.5×11-inch paper are 15 cents per page. If copies are mailed, the person making the request will be subject to the cost of postage and mailing materials.
Requests can be made in person at village hall or by phone, mail or fax. Requests or questions can be directed to the council clerk at (740) 869-2040.
Rules of council
Council is considering two changes to the village’s rules of council, the guidelines that set council’s procedures.
Currently, any member of the public who wants to address council must submit a public participation form by noon on Friday before council’s Monday night meeting. The proposed change would allow people to submit the form up until the time the meeting starts. The form would go to the mayor. Anyone who wants to give a formal presentation before council would still have to notify the council clerk by noon on Thursday prior to council’s Monday night meeting.
The second change involves the delivery of information packets, containing agendas and legislation, to council members prior to meetings. Currently, they are delivered to council members’ doors. If the rules are changed, the packets would be sent to council members by email. Any council member who wanted a hard copy would have to request it from the council clerk then pick it up at his or her mailbox at town hall.
The changes will be up for a second reading at council’s next regular meeting, set for 7 p.m. Feb. 25.
Additional business and discussion
In other action, council members:
- authorized the hiring of Cody Lindsey to run the water plant. Lindsey has the required licensing to operate the plant and will be a full-time employee. Tyler Curtis, the former water plant operator who has been helping out part-time while the village looked for a replacement, will stay on for a period of time to train Lindsey. Lindsey’s pay rate is $17 per hour.
- considered changing Jack Dill’s status from a contracted service provider to a village employee. Dill works part-time as the village’s parks and recreation director. Bricker said Dill will not need the village’s health insurance, should the change be made. The legislation passed 4-1 on the first reading, with Lowell Anderson casting the “no” vote. It will be up for a second reading at council’s next meeting.
- approved naming the alley between Memorial Park and 17 E. Main St. as Timmons Way. A dedication is being planned for Memorial Day weekend, according to David Timmons, council president pro temp.
Mayor Martin commented that someone has been using his name, identity and phone number to make comments about village business on social media.
“It is simply not me. It is someone who holds a grudge…against me because of the seat that I sit in,” he said. “If I have a comment to make, it will be on the village web page.”