MIDDLEPORT — A heated discussion on whether to hire an economic development director, who to hire, who has the authority by law to hire, and whether the village can actually afford to fill the position, took place at a special meeting of Middleport Village Council on Monday night.
The position was established by Council several weeks ago after five months of discussion and following a letter of application last fall from Fred Hoffman, of Middleport, for a position which at that time did not exist asking that he be employed by the village as an economic development director.
Over the past several years, Mayor Michael Gerlach, as a part of his position as mayor, has voluntarily done the village’s grant writing at no additional cost to the village, bringing in thousands of dollars for programs and projects.
This spring, by a majority vote of council, the position of economic development was established, and last month newspaper advertising was published for applicants for the 20 hour a week job, at a salary of $15 an hour. There were two applicants. Fred Hoffman was one of them. Maria Shaefer, of Middleport, was the other applicant
At Monday night’s meeting, Susan Baker, village clerk/financial officer, reported on expenditures of the year and the adverse financial impact of adding a new position on village finances. According to a section of the Ohio Revised Code read at the meeting, if the mayor, as the legislative authority, authorizes anything that is financially detrimental to the village, then he bears the fault.
A lively discussion between the mayor and council members evolved over the position, and the legislative and judicial interpretations of the law as to who has the legal authority to make the decision on new employees. Gerlach, again referred to the Ohio Revised Code as it pertains to executive power and the right to appoint using legislative authority.
At that point Councilman Douglas Dixon countered with, “We have the authority, not you.”
Gerlach responded, “The Ohio Revised Code is the final authority.”
Roger Manley said the ordinance passed by Council states, “… shall be hired by council.”
Dixon said he was told by the village solicitor, Mick Barr, that Council members make the decision. Again, Gerlach cited the Ohio Revised Code as the final authority.
Baker again reminded members of the lack of money for a new employee. Asked by Councilman Richard Vaughan why she shows a lack of money, she responded that her reports show where every penny is spent. Vaughan’s reply to her response was, “No, no,no.”
The meeting adjourned without any action being taken.