Council discusses Board of Public Affairs

MIDDLEPORT — Two members have been added to Middleport’s Board of Public Affairs, and a third member is being sought after Monday night’s Middleport Council meeting.

Bruce Martin and Ron Burkhammer have been added to the board, which will operate the village’s water and sewer systems. Mayor Michael Gerlach told council and the audience that four of the water and sewer employees quit their positions and one position — the position of village administrator held by Faymon Roberts — was eliminated, leaving water and sewer with no director or operator.

The mayor said the Logan and Hysell street project is to be started within the week, but according to the EPA the village must hire an operator of record or face large fines soon. Gerlach also suggested bringing in Tuppers Plains-Chester Water if there should be a leak in the water system. However, because of the severance package for Roberts that cost between between $54,000 and $56,000, water and sewer money is down in Middleport. EPA said that they couldn’t understand why council had done what they’d done and that council must read the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination permit to see what they have to comply with. The mayor said that according to legal counsel, neither the mayor or council can hire new water and sewer employees, causing the need for the Board of Public Affairs.

“No matter what we do tonight, it’s not going to keep the clock from ticking … our ability to stay operational is in jeopardy,” Gerlach said.

All voted in favor of Burkhammer, with a tie vote for Martin. Gerlach said that Burkhammer told him that if Martin wasn’t approved Burkhammer would not join the board. Gerlach then broke the tie with a yes vote, and approved both men to the board, saying that Burkhammer has a financial background and Martin a chemistry background, which will both be integral to the board.

Fiscal Officer Sue Baker asked council to reconsider cutting the Street Fund revenue — two permissive taxes that were $5 each — citing the vitality of council bringing in revenue for the village.

“Councils everywhere, it’s your duty to maintain revenue so you can offer your village services,” she said. “That’s what government is.”

Baker said that the revenue from the street fund is what’s used to salt and plow the roads in winter, and without the $16,000-$18,000 to pay for salt and other expenses, the roads will not be as fully protected, potentially causing damage to cars.

Heighton made a motion to rescind council’s decision to cut the Street Fund revenue.

“Give us a chance on our streets,” Gerlach said.

The motion died for lack of a second.

Mike Hendrickson, Middleport building inspector and floodplain administrator, asked for a $25 increase to the fee for zoning appeals. Currently, the fee is $25. Hendrickson said the extra $25 will help to cover administration costs. All council members approved the increase. Hendrickson also publicly announced the need for another member of the zoning committee. The current committee consists of Bob Pooler, Danny Thomas and Lawrence Powell.

Visitors to the meeting were Tim King and George Hoffman.

King gave a public thank-you to the Middleport Community Association and all volunteers who cleaned sidewalks and street corners for alumni weekend.

“It made the town look a lot better,” he said. “Thank you.”

George Hoffman read from a typed paper and told council that they were making decisions that were negatively affecting citizens. He also talked about not reflecting on how things were done in the past, but instead looking to the future and including the younger generation of Middleport in decisions.

“We need to be honest about our problems and seek solutions,” he said.

Council also approved minutes from the last meeting May 11, approved bills in the amount of $24,987.98, approved the income tax report, the finance report and the Public Works report.

The next council meeting will be Monday, June 22 at 7 p.m.

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.