In one of the most contentious meetings of the year, Mayor Virgil Ray Reisinger was the tie-breaking vote that took down an ordinance aimed at enforcing property maintenance codes.
Throughout the months, residents of the village have expressed their concerns for stricter enforcement of exterior maintenance codes in favor of improving property values and maintaining a good look for the village. At this meeting, they made it very clear their calls were being left unanswered by the council.
“Ray (Reisinger), I’ve got to be honest, you need to consider resigning your position,” audience member Kaye Phelps said. “The first thing you need to do is to look at the appearance of the town.”
Councilperson Don Jones introduced a list of ordinances to the council in October, but it was tabled until November due to other council members not having a chance to read it yet. The ordinances are aimed at showing an extra observance to properties with its features in disrepair and would get them the help they needed to fix it up.
However, when Jones introduced the motion to vote, the council fell silent.
Once the vote finally started, the results were two yes, two no and two abstain votes, with Reisinger breaking the tie by voting no.
The council struck down the motion to pass the ordinance because it wasn’t completed yet. Councilperson Howard Van Dyke said the list isn’t “ready yet,” while councilperson Jeff Parren argued the new codes would be charging fines to people who wouldn’t be able to pay them.
“You can make the fee whatever you want, but you can’t squeeze blood from a rock,” Parren said.
Other concerns for the ordinances included the question of how the new codes would be enforced. The council also expressed that the codes would take some initial money to enforce them at the start.
Kaye introduced a letter to the council at the beginning of the meeting addressed to Reisinger, citing the addresses of “chronic offenders of property maintenance issues.” Beforehand, she thanked the council that this issue was going to appear on the agenda, but her demeanor soured when the council struck down the ordinance motion.
“What you guys have done has said ‘this town is good enough the way it is,’ and if that’s your attitude come Jan. 1, then I’ll be happy when there are some other people on the council,” audience member Dale Phelps said. “If you can’t come to a majority on helping this town move forward, then shame on you.”
Parren eventually had to interrupt the “peanut gallery,” saying that the opinion of Kaye and Dale “has been heard a number of times” at previous meetings.
Also at the meeting, the council passed a motion to appropriate $23,000 for the final payment for the village’s Bicentennial Park project.
Councilperson Terri Kean said there are multiple things that need to be installed, such as picnic tables, signs and hand driers for the bathroom. She also said the bathroom needs to be presentable for an upcoming grant inspection and to be winterized.
“We need to put a closed sign on the bathroom and all three doors locked,” she said.
She said the main problem is the bathroom ceiling needs to be repaired. Councilperson Chris Kise introduced the initiative to get the ceiling fixed this week, deciding plywood would be the best option to prevent mildew forming. They have until the end of the month to get the winterizing done.
Also at the meeting, the council approved to appropriate $1,700 for the water fund to pay its bills. With this, Kise said a growing problem in the village is are the water meters being outdated.
He said the meters are now too old and need to be replaced, and they can’t be repaired. If the meters aren’t fixed, they could slow down on readings or could skip ahead.
“The ones we’re using now are 20 years old,” Kise said. “If there’s an issue, we can’t reread those meters or they’ll automatically bill the customer. There’s new, sophisticated stuff out there and we need to go to it.”
Kise said he would be interested in pursuing grants for new meters, as the installation of the meters will be more expensive than actually purchasing them.
Later in the meeting, Reisinger said the village lost the village’s budget spreadsheet due to a computer error. He said the village is “digging through any file we can find” to recreate the spreadsheet for next year’s budget.
Finally, at the meeting, the changing of council members was noted with the introduction of Derek Wilson, one of the two new additions to the council. He sat in to observe how the meetings were conducted and to get a general sense of where the village was on some issues.
After the elections, Ronald Payne won a council seat and Jones retained his set. Those leaving council next year include Christine Herriott, who had served on the council for two years; Kise, who had served for one year; and Van Dyke, who had served for five years.
The seat change for next year will leave one council seat empty.
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