Despite netting more than what was appraised, one Mount Sterling council member is still concerned with how the village sold goods repossessed by former administrator Joe Johnson.
During a discussion of the previous sales by auctioneer Tom Corbin at the council meeting Monday night, Council member Diane Spradlin asked for further clarification on a piece of Ohio law that discusses the sale of unneeded items by municipal governments.
The law, titled ORC 721.15, essentially states that any property not needed for purposes of the village worth more than $1,000 can only be sold according to an ordinance. Once it’s approved, a board, officer or director in charge of the property needed to advertise the items for sale in a newspaper for at least two weeks before selling it to the highest bidder.
Spradlin told The Press she was concerned the village could put itself into another problematic situation, perhaps even fines, hence why she wanted further clarification.
She said she had brought it up at a previous meeting but wanted further clarification as she feared the village could be fined for not following the directive.
“I asked [Village Law Director Mark Pitstick] a question and Mr. Corbin couldn’t answer it, I just wasn’t sure how we got around the code,” she said.
Village Administrator John Martin deferred to Pitstick and his previous explanation, which essentially was that the Johnson property wasn’t for the village’s use anyway and exempted them from the requirements.
Mayor Lowell Anderson ended the discussion saying Pitstick had already answered the question.
“I can have you removed,” he said. “We’re going to conduct this meeting. The question was answered previously … Diane we’re not entertaining this. It’s done. We’re not going to grandstand with you.”
She brought up the issue again during roundtable.
“I think it is incumbent upon us to be mindful of the ORC to try and follow it unscrupulously to the letter,” she said. “This is not grandstanding, Lowell. This is talking about our obligation as council people.”
She added she emailed Pitstick privately asking for further clarification and was not given a reply.
Spradlin said she wanted to be clearer on the law for the sake of future council members.
“We need to know the correct way according to the code of how to dispose of property.”
Anderson gaveled her down, saying he had answered her question despite it being directed towards Pitstick.
“I don’t care who you’re talking to it’s my council as well as the people sitting here,” he said. “We hire Mark for his legal opinion and that’s what we take, and we had his legal opinion on it and that’s what we take.”
Other business during Monday’s meeting:
• Council approved three to two a pay increase for employee Tyler Curtis, who passed a test to begin earning a certification for running the village’s water treatment plant. The increase is 75 cents per hour. Spradlin and Rebecca Burns voted against the proposal, citing the village’s fiscal emergency.
• Council put on first reading a bill to start the process for the village to join the Ohio Checkbook Program, which would make the village’s expenditures public.
• A village-wide scavenger hunt on public property by organized local businesses will start on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. Attendees are to meet at the gazebo on London Street, across from village hall. The event is free.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, or on Twitter @msfkwiat.