Middleport Council holds first meeting of 2017

By Michael Hart - Special to the Sentinel

MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Village Council held its first meeting of 2017 on Monday, handling a variety of business items.

Village employee insurance was discussed regarding 2017 Health Reimbursement Accounts. An HRA is an employer account that is used to reimburse employees for certain medical costs, typically small or routine expenses. Employers can gain tax advantages for hosting such a program.

Council adopted Building Inspector Mike Henderson’s recommendation to slightly raise the cap on maximum HRA usage to offset rising healthcare costs, even with health insurance.

“Due to increases in deductibles, which were substantial increases, we recommend the HRA set to $3,000 and $5,000,” meaning $3,000 for an individual and $5,000 for a family.

Henderson said deductibles in village employee insurance had grown this year to $6,000 for individual and $12,000 for a family.

Emerson Heighton was elected council president, Rick Hedges was reappointed solicitor, and Linda Warner as magistrate.

Council members Emerson Heighton, Doug Dixon, and Shawn Rice were appointed to the Finance Committee.

Council members George Hoffman, Dixon, and Rice were appointed to the Insurance Committee, pending the ability to resolve scheduling conflicts.

Mayor Sandy Iannarelli said further committees would be prepared for the next meeting.

Written yearly reports from the Building Inspector, Police Chief and Jail Administrator, and Fire Chief were presented to council.

The Mayor and each of the administrators briefly summarized the accomplishments of the past year, each seeming positive about the direction of their offices.

Assistant Police Chief and Jail Administrator Monty Wood also commented on the newly instituted monthly meetings between administrators and the Mayor, which were called “very productive.”

“All in all, the village of Middleport and its employees had a good year,” said Iannarelli.

Fiscal Officer Sue Baker was granted the ability to pay utilities, postage, and payroll witholdings in 2017 without a council vote. Nearly all money paid from the village requires a vote, but the numerous small payments and due dates were stated to hinder smooth functioning. Council, who already oversees entering the contracts, traded a small amount of oversight power for more effective operations.

Bills were paid in the amount of $4,914.80, Middleport rejoined the Ohio Purchasing Co-op for 2017 (a $100 fee), and authorized the mayor to apply for Capital Improvement funding from the state.

An audience member requested the specific numbers from December’s bonuses, which totaled $3,973.73 for Police and $2,431.75 for Public Works. Administrator Joe Woodall confirmed the same amount was given to Public Works last year.

Council person Shawn Rice put forward the idea of adopting term limits for the Middleport government, which he said came from talking with citizens and he personally agreed should exist “across the board.”

A restriction of two terms (eight years) was suggested, and Solicitor Hedges was asked to provide information regarding implementation for next meeting.

To wrap up the first meeting of the year, an audience member made a request: that the Council make certain their microphones and PA system were functioning in 2017.

“You’ve got a lot of important things to say, I really think people would like to hear what is going on,” he said.

By Michael Hart

Special to the Sentinel

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for the Sentinel.

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for the Sentinel.