Chairs shift at council

Matching skills and experience of Wapakoneta City Council members to the issues facing the city, the council president made minor adjustments to his committee assignments for 2013.

Wapakoneta Council President Steve Henderson, who typically does not change assignments in the middle of his term, announced he will have Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. chair the Utilities Committee and appointed new Councilor-at-large Randy Fisher as chair of the Health and Safety Committee.

Henderson said he felt he needed veteran leadership to direct the Utilities Committee because of the several issues confronting the city in regard to electric, water, stormwater and sanitary sewer.

“With everything going on in regard to utility rates and utility changes and losing a veteran councilman, I felt it necessary to appoint someone who has been involved in making those decisions and someone who was involved in those discussions assume the role of chair of this very important committee,” Henderson said after Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council meeting.

Finkelmeier replaces former Councilor-at-large Steve Walter who resigned effective Dec. 31 as chair of the Utilities Committee. Finkelmeier previously served as a member of the committee.

Utilities Committee members have been discussing a rate increase for stormwater, which has not been increased for more than two decades.

Committee members are still active in keeping abreast of negotiations between city administrators and Solar Planet regarding a solar panel field near the composting facility. The stumbling block is the cost of an electrical line from the field to the Defiance Street Substation and how much each entity will pay for the line.

They also are still involved in decisions regarding the South Interceptor line — a sanitary and stormwater sewer project along the southern edge of the Auglaize River. The estimated $30 million project is to eliminate combined sewer overflows, or raw human waste and refuse, entering the river.

Refuse rates will have to be reviewed as solid waste transfer costs and landfill costs continue to rise.

By legislation passed in the last decade, water rate increases have been set to increase each year.

All automatic annual increases are to be reviewed by the committee each year.

With Finkelmeier’s appointment as chair of Utilities Committee, Henderson removed him as chair of the Health and Safety Committee. Henderson named Fisher to replace Finkelmeier as the chair of Health and Safety Committee, but Finkelmeier will remain as a member of the committee.

“I talked with Randy Fisher and I was happy to read in the Wapakoneta Daily News that he had a strong interest in the committee,” Henderson said. “I had already talked to him and he voiced his interest in the committee and I went over the responsibilities in his role as chairman of the committee.

“I have every ounce of confidence that he will be an effective chair of the committee,” the council president said.

Fisher, who voiced a desire to serve on the committee, said he was looking forward to calling his first meeting.

“I am excited because I am happy to serve the community and I think this is an especially important area,” Fisher said. “I want to thank the former chair, Mr. Finkelmeier, who plans to help me along in this new position and bring me up to speed on the issues facing the committee.”

One of the issues facing the committee is revising the city’s curfew law.

Fisher told the Wapakoneta Daily News he does not have any one issue he wants the committee to tackle first, but his work as executive director of The United Way of Auglaize County attracted him to the position.

“I work a lot with health and human agencies throughout the entire county so I bring a different perspective to the committee,” Fisher said. “I also plan to meet with Steve Walter so he can bring me up to speed on the issues facing the Utilities Committee.”

Fisher also will serve as a committee member on Communications and Rules Committee and the Utilities Committee.

Finkelmeier will continue to serve as a member of the Finance Committee and Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee.