Council wants rein on rec group

By David J. Coehrs -

Wauseon City Council member Steve Schneider discussed the role of the Wauseon Recreation Association at Monday’s meeting.

Wauseon City Council member Steve Schneider discussed the role of the Wauseon Recreation Association at Monday’s meeting.

David J. Coehrs | Fulton County Expositor

Members of Wauseon City Council agreed Monday they’d like an increased role in decisions made by the Wauseon Recreation Association and want an overview of its operations.

Councilor Steve Schneider told fellow members at the regular session they should have representation at WRA meetings.

“I think Council needs to have some oversight, and some voting on what things are being done, how they’re being done,” he said.

Mayor Kathy Huner concurred. “I feel Council needs to be represented down at the Wauseon Recreation Association. Actually, Wauseon Recreation wants this as well,” she said.

Huner said the association had agreed to welcome a Council member to its meetings, although the representative would not be entitled to vote on decisions. She wants to discuss the relationship between the city and the WRA but wants to wait until the group replaces two members who resigned their positions.

Law Director Tom McWatters III advised the council that “to have someone sitting on the WRA with authority, in essence, to help direct that path, is something we need to consider closely.”

Council agreed to invite Mark Shadbolt, the city’s recreation superintendent, to a Jan. 3 meeting to discuss the WRA and its operations. Shadbolt advises the WRA but does not oversee its operation.

Council’s sporadic discussion about the non-profit entity resurfaced following Monday’s Finance Committee report, during which Schneider discussed various department requests within the city’s proposed 2019 budget. The WRA is separate from city operations, but is largely funded by the city and operates its recreational programming.

Councilor Shane Chamberlin has argued previously that Council should be provided with checks and balances regarding the WRA’s activities. He said Tuesday that members of the public have nowhere to voice concerns if they question the group’s actions.

The city’s legal department drafted the framework for an agreement between the city and the WRA but it hasn’t been pursued.

Schneider said the Finance Committee also discussed Police Chief Keith Torbet’s request to replace a police cruiser. The chief said the department will use its Drug Seizure fund to refurnish an office and will apply for state or federal grant money to purchase more citywide cameras.

Fire Chief Rick Sluder asked the committee for a budget increase to raise wages for full-time employees. He said an increase would encourage the employees to stay with the department.

Sluder also requested $34,000 annually for protective gear in order to maintain equipment, as mandated by the state.

Based on current annual expenses, the Finance Committee decreased the budgets for the city swimming pool and the Indian Hill Trail adjacent to Homecoming Park. It will increase the city’s tree purchasing budget by $1,000 to retain Tree City USA recognition.

Schneider said the Ohio Department of Transportation has not yet requested the city’s 20 percent share of costs and engineering fees from its Streets and State Highway Funds for a joint roadwork project scheduled for 2019. He said those amounts will be re-budgeted for 2019.

Council members approved the committee’s recommendations to approve the proposed city budget and to provide half the cost of premium payments for dental insurance for full-time, non-union city employees.

Councilor Rick Frey reported that a Tree City USA application submitted city’s Tree Commission was approved. The commission designated Frey its chairman for 2019 and named local businessman Tim Dennis the Booster of the Year.

In department reports:

• Police Chief Keith Torbet said Christmas for Kids served 74 children this year, and donations are being accepted for next year. “I want to thank everyone for their donations and their time,” he said.

• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said Dec. 20 was scheduled as the last day to accept applications for a water treatment plant operator training position, but “the results have been meager, so we may consider extending that.”

He said he, Public Works superintendent John Arps, and water treatment plant superintendent Lou Thourot met with representatives of Arcadis, a Toledo engineering firm, to discuss developing a management asset plan for Wauseon’s water system.

Richardson said contracts are currently being negotiated with chemical providers for the water and wastewater treatment plants.

• Law Director Tom McWatters III reported the city is preparing for negotiations with police unions.

Councilor Harold Stickley asked the department heads if the city’s police, fire, and administrative building complex is safeguarded against fire. He said his concern follows a blaze Dec. 8 at the Blissfield Township Fire Department in Michigan, in which three firefighters were injured and the station’s bay area and roof and an ambulance received heavy damage.

Sluder said the apparatus base in the fire station is not protected by an alarm or sprinkler system. But Torbet said the building complex as a whole is monitored by alarms and cameras 24 hours a day.

The Council also approved the waiving of three readings and emergency passage of: an ordinance to approve and enact replacement pages to the city’s codified ordinances in order to repeal conflicting ordinances; and resolutions to authorize the mayor to enter an agreement with Pareto Captive Services, Sun Life Financial, and Mutual Health Services to provide health insurance for city employees in 2019, to provide one-half the cost of premiums for full-time non-union city employees, and to enter an agreement for a countywide emergency management agency.

A motion to authorize Finance Director Jamie Giguere to transfer funds from the Debt Charge fund to the Wastewater fund to cover expenses for a biosolids project was tabled.

Wauseon City Council member Steve Schneider discussed the role of the Wauseon Recreation Association at Monday’s meeting. City Council member Steve Schneider discussed the role of the Wauseon Recreation Association at Monday’s meeting. David J. Coehrs | Fulton County Expositor

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.