A vote taken in May by the Mount Sterling Village Council to allow the entire council to review bills — as opposed to just the finance committee — was illegal, according to the village’s law director.
Law director Mark Pitstick said during Monday’s council meeting that the vote was illegal because it was not on the agenda.
The topic was brought up by resident Bobi Little during the public participation portion of this week’s meeting. Little asked what happened as a result of the vote, which passed 4-2 with members Lowell Anderson and David Timmons voting no.
Initially, the question about who on the council should review the village’s finances was brought up by former council member Heather Rice.
Following news that the village was on the Ohio Auditor of State’s “unauditable list,” Rice argued the entire council should be involved in the review and discussion of the village’s finances, not just a three-person committee.
Rice called for the vote during the May 27 meeting. At the time, Anderson — who chairs the finance committee — told council members he felt it was illegal.
On Monday, Pitstick said council has adopted a committee method of working through legislation. An issue is reviewed, studied, researched at the three-person committee level. The committee, which has no legislative power on its own, then brings the issue to the attention of the full council.
Pitstick noted committee meetings are open to the public, just as the council meetings are.
“The original purpose of the committee system is to make recommendations to council,” Pitstick said. “A committee has to bring forward recommendations. Only a council can act.”
Anderson said the matter is closed. Council will retain its procedure of committees’ discussion of issues and making recommendations to council, he said.
In other business at Monday’s meeting:
• Anderson reported village income is down from the previous year. The RITA year-to-date report for 2015 showed income at $383,000, which is down 7 percent from last year’s year-to-date report of $416,000.
He attributed it to the absence of the construction work in the village, which was going on last year, but absent this year.
• Deputy Jack Dill of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office said the July 30 break-in at Mason Park remains under investigation by detectives. About $10,000 worth of concession items, food and athletic equipment were stolen from The Mount Sterling Eagles Youth League’s concession stand.
• Council member Timmons said he has heard from residents in the Rosewood area of the village that cars are ignoring school bus stop signs and red flashing lights. Timmons asked Dill to look into the issue.
• Village administrator Joe Johnson reported the refurbishing work on one of the village’s water towers is ongoing and should be completed within two weeks. Cost of the restoration is $473,000.
• Little asked council about the funds in a grant allotted for the extension of John Street into Veterans Field for an entrance to the Mt. Sterling Community Center.
Mayor Charlie Neff said the funds can be transferred to the alternate plan: to widen the alley which serves as current entrance into the community center and create a dedicated street.
Little also asked about the cancellation of council meetings. Neff said if the council has no business to conduct and there’s only a public comment of three minutes, he does not see a need for the meeting.
“I can’t see bringing somebody in for three minutes,” Neff said.
• Council member Jim Davis attended the Pleasant Township Trustees meeting on Aug. 3 and said the trustees will be mailing post cards urging support of the upcoming cemetery levy.
“If you want to keep it looking nice,” Davis said.
Davis said the equipment cemetery superintendent Glenn Liff has to work with is old and wearing out.
• Council member Rebecca Burns said the recent cruise-in, held to benefit the local youth sports program, had 65 entries, combined cars and motorcycles.
• Burns also reported the Ohio Remote Kontrol Society will hold its annual meet Sept. 11- 13 at Deer Creek State Park. She encouraged residents to support the event.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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