The Clintonville Fire Department chief is no longer required to live within city limits.
A new ordinance eliminating that requirement was approved by a 7-3 vote at the city council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8.
A motion to suspend the rules and vote to approve the new ordinance was approved unanimously. A motion to approve Ordinance 1086 was made by Alderperson Gloria Dunlavy, and the council began its discussion.
Former Fire Chief Dean Poole retired as of Oct. 3. Jon Carrick is serving as the interim chief, and may hold that position for several months, until a new chief is selected.
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had lots of questions and concerns come up,” said Alderperson Greg Rose. “Lots has come on suddenly. I’m cautious about having to look outside the city to find a fire chief. Having a chief on hand is ideal. It’s less than ideal if the chief lives a distance away. Are we jumping the gun? Have we exhausted all options? Could we continue with our interim chief?”
Alderperson Mark Doornink, who serves on the fire department, said he didn’t see any reason for concern.
“Many large departments don’t require their chief to live within a certain radius,” he said. “Our firemen are highly trained. They work hard and they know what to do on scene.”
“I never doubted the firemen or their abilities,” clarified Rose. “I just want to make sure safety is our priority.”
“Normally, the chief doesn’t make it on to the first truck out when there is a fire call,” explained Doornink. “We’re better off having that first truck get to the scene as soon as possible. Officers can do size-up; there’s no safety issue.”
“By eliminating the residency requirement for the chief, we are not raising a white flag,” added Doornink. “Requirements from the state may not allow us to keep this provision anyway.”
City Administrator Lisa Kuss addressed Rose’s concern over hiring a new chief, saying that the city council has no authority to hire a new fire chief; that responsibility lies with the Police and Fire Commission.
“This measure would just allow the Police and Fire Commission to do what they need to do,” she said. “Our labor attorney is looking into a new law at the state level that would affect this provision.”
Alderperson Bill Zeinert then asked to call the question and vote on the motion made by Dunlavy. Rose began to say he had another question, but Zeinert said that, as a point of order, the council had to vote on his request before allowing for any more questions.
The vote to call the question passed 7-3, with Alderpersons Jeannie Schley, Dunlavy, and Rose voting no. The council then voted on the original motion, which passed 7-3, with Schley, Dunlavy, and Rose voting no.
Though Dunlavy made the original motion to approve the ordinance, she said she changed her mind during the discussion and voted no.
Fire Agreement Revision – Vehicle Purchases
A new agreement for purchasing new vehicles for the fire department was approved by the council, and is subject to the approval of the townships.
“Currently, we purchase trucks based on ownership,” said Kuss. “If the towns own a truck, they pay 90 percent for the truck – 30 percent each – and the city pays 10 percent. There are some trucks that we pay all or most of the purchase price. I proposed that we move to an agreement that is based on population, with the only exception being the aerial truck. The proposal would allow all municipalities to have ownership together, and for each municipality to pay their share based on population. It would cost city taxpayers more over time, but I feel the benefits in protection and having what is needed on hand outweigh that cost.”
Kuss said populations would be reviewed with each U.S. Census.
The council approved the measure unanimously.
“In the past, we have purchased fire vehicles from both Seagrave and Marion Body Works,” said Kuss. “The most recent years have all been from Seagrave. We are asking the council to determine which companies are eligible to be invited to bid. There is no law to do competitive bidding but in order to assure we handle things as fair as possible, we think the companies should be invited to bid so that when the costs come in and there is a low bidder that we have already agreed this is an acceptable company to purchase a truck from,” said Kuss in her memo to the council. “The Truck Purchasing Committee is recommending to the Finance Committee, Police and Fire Commission and the Council that both Seagrave and Marion Body Works be allowed to submit bids.”
The council approved this measure unanimously.
Request for Proposal process
“Normally we have accepted first bids with prices attached,” continued Kuss. “Then we go back and negotiate some changes with the companies. This is done with prices changing and are after the competitors know each other’s’ price. The recommendation is to reverse this process a bit. We would get a proposal from each company and the committee would send back changes they want to see. The company would make those changes and the committee would send one last approval that this is the approved truck that meets specs. Once the final truck from each firm is reduced to writing, the firms will then send in a price.”
The council approved authorization to proceed with fire truck proposal requests unanimously.
Doornink asked to review Ordinance 2.04(12)(a)(b) regarding council packet information times, which was a point of discussion last month when talking about ArtyFest information that was delivered to council members late Monday night before the Tuesday evening meeting.
“How we are currently doing things doesn’t match with our processes,” he said. “We are not meeting our own ordinance, and for us to get the information in a timely manner is my desire.”
Doornink made a motion to refer this item to the Safety and Ordinance Committee for further consideration, and the measure passed unanimously.
“I needed more time and more information,” said Rose, referring to the ArtyFest discussion that took place last month. “I requested for this to be on the agenda tonight, and I thank Lisa for the additional information that she provided in the packet and at the meeting tonight.”
Kuss presented a list of ticket sales, discussed marketing efforts with the help of Zeinert, and talked more about expenses.
“Everything was charged to the ArtyFest account except for one game that was available,” said Kuss. “There were also upgrades to the Lions Shelter that were made to prepare for ArtyFest, but we would have done that eventually anyway.
“There is no dollar amount for the cost to put up fences. No full-time employees took pay for their help, though they did receive comp time,” said Kuss. “Three part-time workers did get paid. Not all of the band payments were listed on the check register because some were required to be paid via cashier’s checks. Arty’s cut three checks for down payments for the bands as part of their contribution. The ATVs that were used were donated by Len Ebert and Sons. Corn was purchased from Terry Mares; we bought 20 dozen for $2.85 per dozen, and he also donated some corn.
“The city retained $1,700 of the food and beverage revenues, and the rest was distributed to vendors,” continued Kuss. “There was one person selling mushrooms, but we did not collect any portion of her revenues. It’s a learning lesson.”
“There has been much speculation,” said Hankins. “I hope we are answering all of the questions, and we can talk more about this next month.”
Arlo Dumke spoke to the council regarding the poor condition of N. Main Street. “The squeaky wheel still squeaks,” said Dumke, but thanked Public Works Manager Mike McCord for communicating with him regarding the road’s condition, which is the state’s responsibility. “Two years is a long time to have to wait for the road to be fixed,” said Dumke.
John Moericke spoke to the council, stating that he has lived in the city for 24 years and is concerned over why the city has lost its fire chief. “Since Doug Arndt, we’ve had a lot of them,” he said. “It all comes back to one department. These things cost people money in the city. Employees have to listen to tongue lashing. I’ve talked to many, and you’d better look into it pretty (expletive) soon.”
In other business, the council voted to approve the following items:
• Minutes from Sept. 10 and 17 meetings, with a modification on page 4, noting a change in state statutes that affected the city’s municipal code;
• Ordinance 1083 – Bullying;
• A structures and material bid for the E. Madison Street electrical substation in the amount of $98,125 from Substation Enterprises, Inc.;
• A labor of construction bid for the E. Madison Street electrical substation in the amount of $95,000 from MJ Electric;
• Appointing Jeff Kubitz to the Police and Fire Commission;
• Appointing John Justman to the Housing Authority; and
• The 2014 Transit Commission local subsidy for the taxi service in the amount of $16,256. The city’s portion increased by about $2,200 from last year. Alderperson and Council President Mike Hankins, who presided over the council meeting while voting as an alderperson in the absence of Mayor Judy Magee, who was out for a medical reason, said the budget had to be submitted to the state ahead of time in order to find out if the state would grant a subsidy for it in 2014. “It’s a catch 22,” said Hankins, who is also chair of the Transit Commission. “We have to submit this form to the state by Oct. 15 in order to get the state subsidy.”
Gary Sipiorski was recognized at the meeting for 21 years of service to the city. He recently retired from his position with the wastewater utility. When he began working for the city, he worked for both the Park and Rec Department and the Wastewater Department.”Retire as soon as you can, even if you’re not sure you can,” said Sipiorski with a smile.
The council voted to go into closed session to discuss TIF 3 and 4, and fire department requirements.
The next regularly scheduled city council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at City Hall.