A Wauseon City Council member on Monday politely refuted a claim of slander made by Councilor Harold Stickley against Council President Shane Chamberlin at a meeting held July 23.
During a portion of Monday’s meeting addressing new business, Councilor Jeff Stiriz told Stickley he had read over a copy of a statement Chamberlin made at the prior Council meeting, in which Chamberlin urged members to pass legislation to transfer oversight of the city’s recreational programming from the Wauseon Recreation Association to the city’s Park Board. In the statement, Chamberlin chided Stickley for dissenting during a 2019 vote to draft legislation for the transfer.
Stickley responded by threatening to file a complaint against Chamberlin with the Ohio Ethics Commission for “the 10 pages of slander that my fellow councilor gave towards me, and it sounds like I need to send it down to the Ethics…because I’m being accused of voting my conscience on an issue and not agreeing with fellow Councilor Chamberlin to vote his way. So maybe Councilor Chamberlin’s trying to buy my vote.”
Stiriz told Stickley that nowhere in Chamberlin’s statement did the councilor suggest buying anyone’s vote on the issue.
“I really didn’t see where he even offered to buy me a coffee,” Stiriz said. “There was nothing wrong with that letter. He wasn’t asking for – to buy anybody’s vote. He did say he would appreciate your vote but that’s not buying a vote.”
The discussion quickly ended after Stickley responded to Stiriz’s opinion with “That’s good.”
The meeting, held through Zoom on the city’s Facebook page, began with a campaign statement by Becky Thatcher, who is running as a non-partisan candidate for a seat with the Fulton County Commissioners. If elected this November, Thatcher would replace outgoing Commissioner Bill Rufenacht.
In other business, Tree Commission member Patrick Griggs said Stephanie Miller, a regional urban forester, attended a July 15 meeting to discuss the city hosting Tree City USA in 2021. Griggs said commission members discussed the possibility of canceling the event should the coronavirus still present a threat at that future date.
He said the commission also welcomed Laura Kamp, who replaces former member Jim Spiess.
In department reports:
• Fire Chief Rick Sluder said he continues work with the county commissioners toward an agreement regarding an EMS levy scheduled for the ballot in 2021.
Sluder said he is also in union negotiations with the International Association of Fire Fighters, and hopes to conclude those talks by the fall.
• Police Chief Kevin Chittenden reported that, after a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the station received two Dodge Durangos on order to serve as patrol vehicles. He said the vehicles have been fitted with Wauseon police decals and will be fitted with equipment.
Chittenden advised motorists to be aware of children when city schools open Aug. 17. “Be careful in the school zones and allow extra time to travel through any of those, extra time for drop-off or pick-up,” he said.
The department will provide a school resource officer for the school district this academic year, but will not hold the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program for fifth grade students.
“With all the unknowns and scheduling…unfortunately, we did make that decision not to have D.A.R.E. for this year, with the caveat that, if everything is under control and everything is back to normal and we’re doing okay after the first of the year, if we can work it in we’ll consider it at that time,” Chittenden told Council members.
• Public Service Director Keith Torbet said the city opened bids for road salt on Monday. He said three companies placed offers that are much lower than last year’s price of $80 per ton. He said the decrease in price will save the city about 40% over last winter season.
Torbet said city crews are re-striping parking lots, crosswalks, and streets through next week. “Be mindful of the guys out in the middle of the street getting the striping redone,” he said.
He also announced that the city’s annual unlimited trash drop-off will probably be held the last week in September.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere said income tax revenue for July was negative-8.8% as compared to the same time last year. “It’s getting better – not exactly where we want it to be but it is improving,” she said.
In response to a question by Stickley, Giguere said the city department heads are working on cutting expenses by 10% so that the city’s finances will balance by year’s end.
In other business, Councilor Scott Stiriz praised the Wauseon Beautification Team for planting flowers downtown. He also complimented the Wauseon Rotary Club for its continued development of Indian Hill Trail, adjacent to Homecoming Park.
Council passed on emergency a resolution submitting to electors the question of renewing part of an existing tax levy for the purposes of parks and recreational purposes. The original levy funded construction and operation of the city pool. The renewal would include a reduction of millage from 2.6 to 2.0 to reflect no further need of construction costs, and would benefit the operation of the city pool and parks and recreation services.
The council also passed the first reading of a resolution to amend the Annual Appropriation ordinance with certain account appropriations in connection with the Cornoavirus Relief Fund.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.