Cardington residents confront council about water rates; Humvee issue; city administrator
By Evelyn Long -
The water rate issue, matter of whether to keep a recently acquired Humvee, and need for a city administrator dominated the May 21 Cardington Village Council meeting.
Discussion on the Humvee brought to the village the month before brought a negative response from Paul O’Brien, a South Marion Street resident, who asked the status of it.
O’Brien said, “Since we have no officers on all shifts and we have a drug problem that needs addressing, we don’t need a Humvee, we need officers on the street. The Chief and officers’ time could be better spent.”
Jackie Ivers of East Main Street, said she thought it was an important thing for the community and it represents something the kids can look at and learn from.
Cory McFarland of East Main Street, said he felt the Humvee was an unnecessary tool to this town.
“We don’t need it for anything,” he said.
He said he didn’t feel the tax payers “should have to pay to put fuel, insurance and upkeep” (towards the vehicle).
Jon Nippert of South Marion Street, noted that he thinks the Hummer “is over the top” and he reminded the mayor that she said she would hold a meeting once she gathered information. The mayor apologized and said the finance records could be shared anytime as they are public record, however, she would like to gather information besides that so no false information was given.
“I would like to have a plan in place before such a meeting,” she said. “I have met with the engineers on some grants.”
Mel Robinson, of Chesterville Avenue, said the “Humvee was ridiculous.”
Acting Police Chief Huston had a letter from Pastor Mark Googins who was in the military for ten years and worked on Hummers. Huston had Googins look at the vehicle to see what “we have” before council decides what to do with it.
Ivers asked if the Humvee is going to be sold and where would the money go.
Huston explained that it cannot be sold — it has to be given back or given to another department that is willing to take it.
Councilman Tim Abraham thanked everyone coming to the meeting and said he was surprised at the number showing up about the Humvee. He noted that we as a community need to look at ourselves and has heard through the grape vine that we are the laughing stock of the county because of the Humvee and if that is true, he noted that he feels everything starts at home, meaning we probably started that.
Referring to the police department, he said it is easy to look at the police department and pick, pick, pick seeing all the things they do wrong. “I was a police officer for eight years and there was complaint after complaint at Mount Gilead. The community sees the street guys, the fire department and like them but a police officer — because they give you a ticket — it can be a thankless job. While we are at home watching Survivor they are out doing our dirty laundry for us — we need to remember they need our support — you may not like the chief, or an officer but we still need to remember they are out there to do a job and we need to support them as a community.”
“Working in Fulton recently and seeing where there is no police protection — it’s a mess with cars going down Main Street 50 miles an hour — I don’t want that here.”
Abraham invited everyone there to come to every meeting to get to know what is going on instead of having to read it in the paper or even worse, on the streets.”
A vote was taken on sending the Humvee back. Answering more questions, it was noted the Humvee costs the village nothing except for the time it cost the staff and the gas used. Liability would be the only insurance on it. When asked if the Humvee could be passed on to someone else later if we kept it, Huston said we could, however this was not meant to be a cruiser, it was for emergency situations for the community and kids to show them at the school, etc.
Councilman Garner’s motion to send it back, seconded by Abraham, was defeated by three yeas and one nay. Fox voted against the motion. Solicitor Jim Dietz explained that because there were only four council members present, the vote had to be unanimous either way.
On the subject of the water bills, Heather Deskins of South Marion Street, asked what the base rates for the water and sewer charges goes to. Councilman Randy Fox said, “A percentage goes towards the day to day running of the plants and capital improvements.”
Deskins said she took the estimate of 700 residents using the base rate and it came to over half a million dollars a year. “With that being just the base rate,” she said, “and not even the usage, I’m concerned that the rate may be over the top.”
Mayor Peyton asked her to come in and meet with her so she could give her more information because no one there that evening could give her an answer in detail that evening. The mayor said she could have the rate study for her to look over and Deskins said she would like to see the water/sewer financial statements back to 2007.
Debbie DiLeo, the fiscal officer, noted she can get back to 2008 but ‘before that we were on a different system.’ It was agreed that Deskins would call and make an appointment with the mayor.
Robinson asked why come to a meeting when”what we say here doesn’t make any difference.” Abraham rejected that and Robinson said when people come to the meetings and voiced their opinion on the water rate increases, it was voted on like nobody mattered. Robinson asked council to do something about the water bills.
The mayor said we are working hard and realize the frustration of not getting what you want immediately. “We are working as hard as we can to make the village the best we can make it.”
Councilman Caldwell added that he has been a part of the last three teen dances sponsored by the police department and it is a ‘very positive thing. The interaction between the department and the teens, they are providing them an opportunity to have a place to do something that isn’t out causing trouble. There are 13 members participating in the Explorer program and that is positive.” He stated that being involved is half the battle, and knowing what is going on in the police department rather than just trying to pick them apart.
He added the council works hard and needs input from the community and together they can come up with the right decisions.
Deskins said she does not want it to take another 18 months for our water bills to change — “if that happens our community will suffer and we will lose residents to other communities.”
Jon Nippert said he has a hole in his yard from the water line. Wood said he will look into it.
Mel Robinson inquired about the hiring of the City Manager and City Administrator, asking if it was bid out to the public. Mayor Peyton explained this was her recommendation to council and when they voted, it was a tie and she voted to break the tie. She added that she had recommended creating the position of Village Manager and that DiLeo, “who does an awesome job,” fill it. Peyton explained that the finances were a mess when she started the job and she has been through an audit and “practically lived here for her first year.”
In fact, she has requested a second audit to ensure that all is being done regarding the fund accounts. Peyton said DiLeo is the first person people come and talk to on zoning and she calms down angry residents with water bills and is very good at this.
“I anticipate she will be a good Economic Development Director.”
Peyton also said she had recommended Wood to be the village administrator and he has been with the village for eight years and knows the water and sewer and is currently working with the engineers to update the sewer plant. By appointing these two people and giving them pay increases, “we would save the village $35,000 a year,” said the mayor.
Robinson stated he feels the village is in a crisis as far as the water system is concerned and “we need someone to take the bull by the horns and we are living with the mistakes council made years ago.”
He said he feels it is time to get someone in here to do it and the mayor said she doesn’t know where we could get two people that we could afford that will make this a village like Dublin.” She noted examples of debt created by earlier administrators and she wants to move forward without creating more debt.
“Danny has some suggestions on how to do that that are good.” She said a village administrator costs a lot of money and in a village like Cardington, you are going to get someone young and inexperienced or someone ready to retire who would be just putting in the time.
Ivers said DiLeo has been a great help to her and she is an asset to the community. Ivers is secretary of the Friends of Cardington.
In other business,
Terry Angel noted the Boy Scouts have painted all the picnic tables in the shelter house and will be cleaning the concrete. They had started a camp at the Maxwell Park.
McFarland noted the school speed sign on Nichols Street is very hard to see when one is coming from the east because trees are in the way. Wood said he will have the tree trimmed.
A first reading was given a resolution authorizing the Fiscal Officer to set up an electronic payment for Standard Life Insurance Company.
Council accepted the resignations of auxiliary officers Eric White and James Kee. Kee has a full time job with the Crestline Police Department and White has two part time jobs.
The department has now made 221 warnings and 83 citations since January 1, 2012.
He said the 2010 cruiser windshield was replaced for around $230. He said Officer Keifer completed a class on cell phone analysis at O. P. O. T. A., and it was a free course.
He said the Explorer Unit visited Woodside Village Care Center and had gone shopping and purchased $100 worth of prizes and played bingo with the residents passing out prizes to all.
Officers Keifer, Merman and he have been LEADS certified for the year and they are working to get the rest of the department completed.
The Explorer Program added three more youths and had an end of the school year dance on May 19.
Andrea Hazen, president of Friends of Cardington, said the purpose of the organization is to enhance the quality of life of the Cardington Community by providing events for those living in rural areas. She said they are currently working on the Heritage Festival to take place Saturday, June 23 from 11am to 6 pm. She noted there are only four to five people planning the event. Acting on her request to close certain roads for the event, council agreed to close Park Street from Walnut Street (leaving access for emergency vehicles to enter and leave) to Second Street up to the First Federal Bank (access will be allowed for the bank until it closes). The car show is to be held in the parking lot of the former Kinsell Foods store.
Because there will be live bands performing, Hazen asked that the amperage be increased otherwise they would have to use generators which would add to the air pollution. Danny Wood, interim village administrator, will check into the electrical matter.
A first reading was given a resolution certifying to the county auditor for the inclusion on the tax duplicate the amounts owed to the village for delinquent water and sewer charges at 2845 State Route 529.
Wood described some of the activities that took place in the village including the completion of tree planting and street painting. Flowers are being planted in the flower boxes and they wanted to spray for mosquitoes before Memorial Day.
DiLeo said post cards were being sent to all residents to bring with them on June 16, village clean up day when residents bring their unwanted items to the dumpsters at the new street department between 7 am and noon.
Two council members, Sherry Graham and Vickie Wise, were absent from this meeting, with excuse. Council adjourned the 55 minute meeting at 7:55 pm. The next meeting was scheduled for June 4 at 7 pm.