POMEROY — Pomeroy Council voted to employ outside counsel for a public works matter during Monday’s special meeting at Pomeroy Village Hall.
Mayor Jackie Welker called the special meeting after Village Solicitor Michael Barr recused himself from the matter.
Members of council voted 5-0 to hire former village solicitor Chris Tenoglia as counsel for the matter. Council President Ruth Spaun noted she was voting yes because the village needed to know what its rights are in regard to the issue. Welker said Tenoglia did accept the position.
Council also authorized to allow Welker and Village Administrator Paul Hellman to look for other counsel if Tenoglia did not accept, something that is now void since Tenolgia accepted the position.
Details of what the public works matter are were not discussed in open session during the 15-minute meeting, but on Tuesday the following statement was issued to The Daily Sentinel by Mayor Welker,
We are extremely disappointed in the aggressive and possibly improper water service being provided by Tuppers Plains Water District to one of our village customers. If permitted to continue, this will cause a devastating rate increase to our current customers, based upon a loss in our customer base. We are weighing our options and are awaiting a legal opinion from our new attorney before we decide how to proceed. I am simply amazed that a rural water district would act in direct competition with an existing water provider knowing full well the devastating effect this will have on the remainder of our customers on a long-term basis.
Following roll call at Monday’s meeting, Welker asked for council to enter into executive session for possible pending litigation.
The Daily Sentinel questioned the validity of the reason for executive session in accordance with the Ohio Sunshine Laws.
The Ohio Sunshine Law regarding Pending or Imminent Court Action, states,
A public body may adjourn into executive session with the public body’s attorney to discuss a pending or imminent court action. Court action is “pending” if a lawsuit has been commenced and is “imminent” if it is on the brink of commencing. A public body may not use this exception to adjourn into executive session for discussions with a board member who also happens to be an attorney. The attorney should be the duly appointed counsel for the public body. Nor is a general discussion of legal matters a sufficient basis for invoking this provision.
Following this, Spaun changed her vote to “no” on entering into executive session. Council proceeded to enter into executive session by a 4-1 vote.
Following executive session, both votes on the matter of outside counsel were taken and then the meeting was adjourned.
Council member Vic Young was not present at the meeting.
The next regular meeting of council will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 26.