With no committee reports scheduled, and with the majority of city department heads absent, Tuesday’s meeting of Wauseon City Council became a prolonged discussion of parliamentary procedure regarding unexpected additions to the agenda.
City Law Director Tom McWatters III broached the subject following an objection by Councilor Shane Chamberlin at the council’s Aug. 25 session. Chamberlin had confronted Mayor Kathy Huner after she announced late into that session that an unscheduled executive session would be held to discuss the purchase or sale of real estate property.
He told Huner the inclusion of an executive session should have been announced at the start of the session to prepare council members and to inform the public. Huner argued that she was notified of the need for an executive session just moments before the council meeting commenced.
At Tuesday’s session, McWatters noted the “minor misunderstanding.” He said Wauseon’s codified ordinances have no specific rule on point dealing with City Council procedures of operation. He said “Robert’s Rules of Order,” a book of introduction to parliamentary procedure adopted by the city under certain circumstances, applies only when there is no city codified rule dealing with council procedures of operation.
McWatters said although the council must follow a specific order of business, the meeting agenda is merely an informal document to assist in that order.
“Oftentimes, matters will come up sort of at the last minute. It’s not possible to have it on the written agenda,” he explained.
Matters of new business, under which an executive session would qualify, can be introduced during a council meeting without already being included on the agenda, McWatters said.
Chamberlin said his concern lay with Huner’s failure to mention the addition of an executive session as soon as the previous meeting began.
“It would be nice for the public to hear there’s going to be an executive session,” he said. Chamberlin said that mentioning the addition would have been “out of common courtesy when it comes to City Council members, and also common courtesy when it comes to the viewing public to know at the end of the meeting there’s going to be an executive session.”
McWatters claimed fault for the omission, saying he also knew an executive session was being included but didn’t mention it to the council. “I could have said something. I understand the concern that there would be some sensitivity to the public about an executive session that’s forthcoming that’s not on the agenda,” he said.
Huner said she did not mention the executive session because she had learned of it only seconds prior to the council session. “We’re still following the order of the agenda. It’s a timing issue,” she said.
When she asked McWatters if it would be proper to add new business at the beginning of a meeting so the council could approve it he replied, “That would be the best way to handle it.”
During abbreviated department reports, McWatters reported that negotiations for an emergency medical services contract between Fulton County and its fire departments are ongoing. A hearing on a final contract draft will be held at the end of September.
He also said revisions to the city’s tax code will be implemented after Jan. 1. The revisions are in conjunction with the state’s latest biennial budget.
Assistant Police Chief Bill McConnell said despite a slow response the department would like to hold an eight-week Citizens Police Academy scheduled each Thursday beginning Sept. 17.
Chief Keith Torbet said Wednesday no applications have been turned in. He said unless the department receives at least five applications by Friday the event would be canceled.
And Finance Director Jamie Giguere reported that city income tax revenue for August increased almost 10 percent.
During the council’s annual joint meeting with Clinton Township trustees, which was included in the agenda, the resignation of Robert Krumm from the Wauseon Union Cemetery Board of Trustees was accepted. The council and trustees Ivan Hite and Leonard Richer voted to appoint Harold Stickley to fill Krumm’s unexpired term to Jan. 1.
In new business, council members approved:
• A motion to schedule a public hearing Sept. 23, 5 p.m., in council chambers at 230 Clinton St. regarding a request to change zoning from R-2 to R-3 on a parcel of land at the west end of West Drive.
• A motion to waive a hearing with the Fulton County Budget Commission regarding apportionment of the Undivided Local Government Fund.
• A revised date for the retirement of Marcia Grant, assistant director of finance, now effective Oct. 31.
• Halloween Trick or Treat for Oct. 31 between 6-7:30 p.m.
The city council also approved:
• The suspension of three readings and emergency passage of a resolution authorizing the acceptance of the Fulton County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.
• The suspension of three readings and emergency passage of a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter a contract with Time Warner for telephone and Internet services.
• A third reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to advertise for, accept the lowest bid for, and enter into a contract for repainting the east clarifier at the city water treatment plant. The legislation goes into effect in 30 days.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.