Wednesday – May 4: Wellsville Village Council met last night for their regular bi-monthly meeting at Village Hall. The meeting was postponed one day since Village Hall is a voting precinct. Present at the meeting was Council President Pro-Tem Randy Allmon and Council members Susan Haugh, John McMahon & Tony Cataldo. Also attending was Fiscal Officer Dale Davis, Village Administrator Jim Saracco, Legal Advisor Andy Beech, Zoning Administrator Rick Williams and United Water Sewage Treatment Plant Manager Greg Stewart. Allmon was sitting in for vacationing Mayor Joe Surace.
Clover Street resident Nunzio Lombardozzi questioned why the absence of Council members were automatically excused without stating a reason. Lombardozzi stated that years ago a reason was needed to be given per Council rules before an absence was excused. He said it was embarassing for the Village and he's been meaning to bring that up at previous meetings. Lombardozzi further stated that the present Council members may know the reasons for members missing the meetings. Allmon responded he knew that Councilman Soldano's father was in the hospital and Haugh noted that, although not officially notified, that Councilwoman Goss was working at her regular job.
The Council Clerk advised he would have to check the Council Rules to see if that rule was still included. Allmon suggested that maybe it should be and entertained a motion that the President Pro-Tem be notified why anyone missing future meetings be required. Cataldo requested the motion be held up until they can check what it says in Robert's Rules. Allmon agreed.
For the Mayor's Report Allmon reported that he talked to Surace on Wednesday and he was enjoying himself in Florida. Allmon stated that they are still waiting to hear from the EPA in regards to who turned them in for malfeasance in office, using the money from the STAG funds. Allmon continued that a letter was written requesting the identity of the accuser and he thinks it will be 20 days before a reply is sent to that letter from the latest correspondence he has had with them.
A few years back the Federal EPA billed the Village for undocumented use of STAG funds when Village officials believed there was over $600,000 left over in that grant. The grant was originally awarded to the Village for various sewage projects and plans were being made to use the remaining funds for a storm sewer project on Highland/Ridge Avenues and to upgrade the forced main. Then it was announced that someone had turned the Village in for improperly using the STAG grant funds. After finding most of the receipts needed the fine was appealed and with the intercession of then Congressman Charlie Wilson it was ruled that no malfeasance had occurred. Since then some Village officials have vowed to bring the accusers name to the light of day stating they have the right to know who their accuser is.
We have to question the wisdom in that line of thinking, especially if the accuser is considered a confidential informant. In our line of thinking the accuser's name is protected by law from becoming a matter of public record. The Village officials have been resolved of any taint in that accusation by the EPA ruling. It's water over the dam. Time to move on.
Allmon also thanked the residents that voted in favor of the Police levy and getting it passed. The levy was on yesterday's Primary Election ballot. It was the only issue Village residents voted on yesterday. There were no other contested issues on yesterday's ballot.
For the Finance Committee Tony Cataldo asked for a clarification on the EPA report on the STAG funds that the Village's share was overpaid by 45% and they owed Wellsville $100,000. Fiscal Officer Dale Davis noted that the amount was $90,000. He explained it was not owed as a pay out but that the EPA is allowing $90,000 to be drawn down from the grant. Any other use of STAG funds have to be approved by the EPA before they are committed to a project.
John McMahon noted “it's like beating a dead dog” for the Street Committee but he has been called about the pot holes on 20th Street. McMahon stated he realizes that crews have been patching but 20th Street looked like it had a swimming pool in the middle of the street. Saracco responded that he has to keep up with the grass mowing in the cemetery and in town with three men, plus have them patching the pot holes. He also advised there will be no part time help available this year. Both the MCTA and CC Jobs & Family Services have no funds to hire employees this year. County Commissioner Penny Traina confirmed today that with no more stimulus funds there is no money available to furnish Wellsville with additional help, as has been done in years past.
Before the stimulus funds were available last year both counties joined together in what is known as the Mahoney & Columbiana Training Association (MCTA) to furnish part-time summer help. With the stimulus funds last year CC Commissioners had Jobs & Family Services administer the summer help program. With the recession and Congress not creating additional stimulus funds the money for extra summer help is not there.
Saracco added that in the last 33 days there have been 28 days of rain. He noted he's been told they would need a whole truck load of hot patch just for 20th Street but they are well aware of the condition. Until they can catch up with the grass he's advises people to drive cautiously. Sue Haugh noted they are doing a very good job with the little time available and asked that 11th Street between Center & Commerce be added to the list. It is heavily used by Post Office customers leaving there to go back uptown. Saracco noted they were able to do some patching between Main and Center on 11th Street and assured Mrs. Haugh that “every street in town is on the list”.
McMahon also inquired about the condition of Lisbon Street where the salvage company removed the old train rails. Saracco reported he recently talked with the company owner and has been assured it will be taken care of as soon as weather permits. He added the company just had employees come back to remove some “spikes” that were left sticking out of the ground.
Allmon asked if people working off fines were still being used. Saracco answered that the only people he gets are from East Liverpool Municiple Court and the County. Sue Haugh volunteered to check why referrels from the Village Magistrate are not being given that option. Saracco added he currently has no one working off fines and the last one he did have was delayed until the weather improved.
For Water, Sewer & Refuse Allmon reported he is still awaiting for the bid proposal from United Water on their offer to repair the flood wall pumps with an extended pay back stipulation of five to ten years. At a recent Sewage Committee meeting officials from United Water offered their help with the pumps provided the contract to run the Sewage Treatment Plant be extended to whatever time frame a pay off schedule is arrange to finance the repair the pumps. The Committee asked that United Water work up a proposal for consideration. United has a separate division that specializes in repairing and maintaining big pumps. Allmon said he expects the proposal in the next week or so.
Council voted to place Ordinance 11-3 on first reading. That legislation is to authorize the Village to participate in the Ohio Department of Transportation rock salt program for the 2011-2012 Winter Season. With only four Council members present the ordinance could not be declared an emergency and passed right away. The ODOT program is done yearly for better pricing consideration in a cooperative with several other political subdivisions throughout the state.
The meeting adjourned at 6:14 PM. The next regular scheduled meeting is Tuesday, May 17 at 6 PM at Village Hall.