An exchange between two Plain City council members and the village administrator grew heated during a recent regular council meeting, with one member telling the other to “grow up” following a discussion about the village spending more than $260,000 on new equipment.
As previously reported, Village Administrator Kevin Vaughn requested $266,000 to replace a bucket truck and buy a one-ton dump truck and wood chipper. The money will also be used to replace water meters and the village salt barn.
His request will require an amendment to the 2014 village budget.
Council member Leslie Perkins on Tuesday questioned why the village could not purchase used equipment or enter into a leasing contract as opposed to buying new equipment.
“I still just can’t wrap my head around why we have to buy new,” Perkins said.
Vaughn said he had “looked into all that.” Used units are larger than what the village needs, and have more than 100,000 miles on them. Leased units are $1,500 per month, he added.
Perkins said she did her own research. She provided Vaughn with brochures and quotes for various chippers and trucks from Sunbelt Rentals and JD Power and Tool, which she said offered the village a 10 percent discount.
Vaughn said he was concerned with renting or purchasing used units. He pointed out the village’s recent purchase of a new police cruiser.
“That’s different,” Perkins responded. “That is an emergency response vehicle.”
“So is when I have somebody 60 feet in the air and their life is literally hanging up in the air,” Vaughn answered. “There is no difference.”
Perkins said comparing the cruiser and bucket truck is “apples and oranges.”
“Ma’am, I have done all of the research you have looked at,” Vaughn said. “That is what I get paid to do.”
Perkins interjected, “And I get paid to ask the questions.”
Council member Bob Walter said city employees “deserve to be supported by council and not second guessed.”
“I’m surprised you’re doing the village administrator’s job,” Walter said to Perkins.
Perkins said she had not had the opportunity to question the administrator on his recommendation, but Walter said Perkins received information regarding the purchase months prior to Tuesday’s meeting. Perkins insisted she had not.
“You don’t know how to read an Excel file is your problem,” Walter said.
“Excuse me? I’m a graphic designer,” Perkins fired back. “I know how to work a computer.”
The exchange was interrupted by President Pro Temp Shawn Kaeser’s gavel calling the meeting to order.
Perkins asked Vaughn how often the bucket truck was used.
Vaughn answered “a few times a week.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Leslie, you just called him a liar,” Walter responded. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t talk to me like that. How dare you?” Perkins said. “I am sick of your disrespect.”
“Look who’s talking,” Walters replied.
“Grow up,” Perkins said.
After several more minutes of discussion, Kaeser again paused the exchange. He encouraged council members to vote yes on the legislation if they felt the administration was acting correctly with the purchase. Otherwise, to vote no.
The measure passed with all members except Perkins voting in support. Council member Colleen Davis and Mayor Sandra Adkins were not present for the meeting.
Council must vote on the legislation one more time for final approval, which is expected at its next meeting June 9.
In other business on Tuesday, council:
• Announced those wishing to donate to the clock fund could make a tax-deductible donation to the Uptown Plain City Organization.
• Discussed an ongoing problem with campers not purchasing permits. Last weekend, 18 campers were at the grounds, although the village only had eight permits on file, Vaughn said.
• Approved David Drury as the village’s next full-time police officer. Drury had served as a volunteer officer since August 2013, and as a part-time officer since December.
• Deliberated passing an ordinance requiring candy be handed out and not thrown during parades. Perkins suggested the new law, saying she was “violently pelted” with candy by children during a previous parade while supervisors and parents stood by. The thrown candy caused damage to her eyeglasses, she said. Council members, including Perkins, discussed improving supervision and reminding parade participants to act with more care before placing a new ordinance on the books.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.