Galion City Council plays to a full house
By Rachel Mendell
Galion city council played to a packed house when it met to discuss legislation Tuesday, Sept. 11. Members of the community set up extra chairs inside and outside of council chambers.
Appropriations were increased to compensate for repairing and replacing police and fire gear that was damaged due to a lightning strike in early July (Ord. 2012–72). Council approved the amount of $49,056 to be transferred into the general fund for that purpose. Council member Cathy George noted that during a recent ride-along with a member of the Galion Police Department the radio transmissions were garbled and the officer needed to ask the dispatcher several times to repeat information. “These repairs are needed,” George said.
Appropriations were amended to allow for a small construction project to change the lighting schedule on Heise Park Lane and Portland Way North (Ord. 2012–73) in the amount of $4,927. This should alleviate traffic back ups on Portland Way during school hours by allowing more traffic to turn left into Heise Park without trying to “beat the on-coming traffic.”
Council approved a transfer of $1,800 for dispatch to update their records system.
In financial matters, council heard the report by Karen Walters that had been requested by Roberta Wade. To date, estate tax received by the city since 2004 totaled $1,261,536. “That’s an average of $140,000 per year in estate taxes,” said Walters. Wade noted that the estate tax would be going away Jan.1. “We’re certainly going to miss it,” she said.
Walters continued that in the past month there was a software glitch that figured utility bills as actual estimated which the finance department is trying to fix.
Wade continued that the next finance committee meeting (scheduled for Sept. 27 at 9 a.m.) would deal with why the city invested in Prairie State and used a consultant that also worked for AMP. Wade said she also had questions about the insert that was added to the utility billing.
George said the laws and ordinances committee was working on gaming regulations, problems with vacant homes not being clean and secure, and garage sales that seem to last forever. The committee would also discuss a collection policy for utilities.
Council member Tom Fellner reported that Planning, Zoning and Utilities would meet Sept. 25 at 6:15 p.m. There would also be a public hearing Oct. 11.
Council member Ken Bodkins, speaking for the parks and recreation committee, that there is a problem with graffiti at Cobey Park that needs to be addressed. He also said he would be speaking with Dr. Ressallat concerning his offer to finance the fencing project at Heise Park between the city property and his own.
In other business, the clerk read three letters to council: A thank you from the Sorrick family, a thank you to the line department for a job well done and a letter in support of Bodkins remaining on council.
In city manager comments, Gene Toy said the street resurfacing project should begin in a few weeks; Oktoberfest was scheduled for Sept. 27–29 and the last Hot Dogs on the Square would be this Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
In council president comments, Gail Baldinger asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of 9–11.
In citizen concerns, Eric Smith said he was a friend of Bodkins and was concerned that people in town were talking of boycotting his businesses. “When you boycott business, you’re creating suffering for other people … It hurts a lot more people than just Ken.” Smith requested council that the punishment should be in council, not in his business.
Fellner agreed saying there are distinct situations going on in the city and they were all separate issues. “We’re not here to punish Ken,” he said.
Resident Mike Kochheiser said, “I think you guys are making a big witch hunt. He’s [Ken Bodkins] apologized. He cares for the community.”
Resident Richard Swain said he was tired of council members doing their business in the newspaper. “It’s time for this to stop. Stay out of the newspaper and get back to business.” He also agreed with others that the comment that ignited the recent racial controversy was not a racial slur. He asked if anyone knew the ethnicity of the Ressallat family, which was then stated to be Caucasian. Swain finished with a by-the-way comment, “They don’t even have camels in Iran.”
Resident Don Faulds invited the community to come to a meeting at the Galion High School gymnasium Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. The PSEC report would be read. Members of the Ohio Citizens Action Group would be on-hand to answer questions and present “the promise vs. the reality.” Faulds said he had requested council for a public forum to discuss the Prairie State issue and it had never come to pass. So he took it upon himself to organize one. Other shareholder communities have been invited to participate as well. So far, Faulds said, all the city has paid is interest on the bond payment with no electricity [coming into the city to show for it. Faulds stressed that the meeting would be an informational session only, not a gripe session. “We’re all sitting on the Titanic and the elected officials are arranging the deck chairs,” he said.
Resident Bob Cerar was last to speak in citizens’ comments. He said he feels bad for the city. There are so many people who are so sensitive. “We should be held to a higher standard.” He requested that council ask for the resignation of Roberta Wade for breaking her oath of office and breaching the trust of the community. He asked that Fellner be consistent. [Fellner had earlier seconded the motion to ask for member Bodkins resignation from council.]