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Emergency dilemma

September 25, 2012

WAYNESFIELD —Waynesfield Village Council members have been forced to schedule two special meetings for later this week after two village councilors voted against suspending the rule of three readings and declaring an emergency that would have made transfers from certain fund to others and would have appropriated other funds to their proper accounts.

Village Clerk Judith Quinlan requested $43,350 be appropriated into various accounts and another $17,500 be transferred  in an effort to pay various bills that were due or coming due soon.

Councilor Cheryl Jerew immediately asked why the move had to be passed under the suspension of three readings and as an emergency. Passing legislation as an emergency waives a 30-day waiting period after it has passed.

Quinlan explained several of the transfers were needed to put the money in the proper accounts to pay bills, and the appropriations were new funds that had to be designated in their correct accounts. However, when the motion was made to pass the ordinance as an emergency, Jerew and fellow councilor Bill Motter voted against the action. A three-fourths vote is required to pass legislation under the suspension of three readings and a two-thirds vote is required to pass legislation as an emergency.

The ordinance was then re-read as a first reading, leaving two more readings required for passage.

If passed at regular council meetings, Quinlan said it would leave several bills unpaid by the time the third reading would have been done in November — prompting councilors to approve the scheduling of two special meetings for Wednesday and Friday this week.

Jerew and Motter both reasoned that they felt too many ordinances were passed under the suspension of three readings and as emergencies in the village, leading to their no votes on the measure.

“I understand emergencies do come up, but this is something that comes up quite regularly,” Jerew said. “I feel things need to be planned more appropriately.”

Jerew said she had no problem with the extra money being paid out for the extra two meetings.

“They don’t seem to have a problem giving out money for premium insurance.” Jerew said. “There seems to be a lot of money being wasted here.”

Motter refused to comment on his vote.

Councilor Rich Libby said he understood their point but treating legislation as such is needed when properly used.

“There is no need to pass everything as an emergency ordinance,” Libby said. “But in this case, there was nothing improper going on. The question was asked. The clerk answered it. There was no reason to be suspect of the ordinance.”

Libby and Motter discussed the matter out loud immediately after the meeting, with Libby asking Motter about his vote.

“I needed him to explain it to me,” Libby said.

The conversation became somewhat heated,  and ended with Motter calling Libby a name as he exited with his wife from the village building.

Quinlan said several bills would not have been paid unless the special meetings had not been scheduled.

“Some of the money was to pay for operating funds into the police account, which was running low,” Quinlan said. “It would have likely run out sometime next month. The Lands and Building Fund was low for general maintenance. The village needs to purchase a concrete saw, but I cannot do a purchase order until the money is appropriated to the proper fund.”

Quinlan said payment for village employee health insurance premiums would have been jeopardized and a $35,000 payment that had to be appropriated for a feasibility study for improvements to the village’s lagoon system also would have been jeopardized if the special meetings were not held. Without the meeting, the delay in the study would have set the project back two months.

The money for the feasibility study had to be appropriated before the village could go forward with presenting a plan to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to be approved for the new system.

The move will cost the village an extra $600 to pay councilors for the two meetings.

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