Swanton Fire Department Personnel Issues Discussed At Council Meeting

Commissioners Bill Rufenacht and Paul Barnaby tour the new community center with Rosanna Hoelzle.

Commissioners Bill Rufenacht and Paul Barnaby tour the new community center with Rosanna Hoelzle.

By: Bill O’Connell
THE VILLAGE REPORTER

For the second consecutive time, personnel issues weighed heavily during the Swanton Village Council meeting held on Monday, April 25, 2016. On this occasion, the focus mainly concerned the Swanton Fire Department. Emerging from a lengthy executive session, Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle began her report by reading letters of resignation from two village fire department employees, both dated April 21, 2016 and both effective immediately.

The first letter was submitted by Laurie Evans Ward, a 25-year employee, who had previously submitted a letter of resignation with an effective date of 4/30/16. “Unforeseen circumstances,” were the reasons given by Ms. Ward. The second letter was submitted by seven-year employee Amy Carter with no reason given. The council accepted both resignations unanimously.

After several other report items were addressed Ms. Hoelzle asked for a motion related to the proposed suspension of Swanton Fire Chief Howard Myers. “I’ll make a motion,” said Councilman Mike Rochelle. “Motion to suspend the fire Chief Myers pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 733.37 for fifteen days pending further hearing on a disciplinary matter with pay.” The motion was seconded by Councilman Jeff Pilliod and passed with a 6-0 vote. Chief Myers does have the right to apply to have the date of the hearing extended with the suspension not to exceed thirty days. Ms. Hoelzle did not elaborate on the resignations or the suspension.

The meeting began in front of a heavily attended audience that included Fulton County Commissioners Paul Barnaby and Bill Rufenacht as well as a large contingent of Swanton Fire Department employees.

After hearing several committee reports Mayor Ann Roth read part of a formal request petitioning the Fulton County Commissioners to release local tax liens in the amount of $19,263.71 for the Swanton properties located at 113 and 115 North Main St. where two building were razed in August of 2015.

“The Village of Swanton believes by releasing these liens the property becomes more desirable for business owners. Attracting new businesses would be a boost for the Village but also for Fulton County as a whole,” said the Mayor. The Village also petitioned its other representatives including U.S. Representative Bob Latta to aid in releasing any state and federal liens and has already heard back from Mr. Latta’s office and the office of State Representative Cliff Hite requesting more information.

Commissioner Rufenacht addressed the situation described in the letter. “We’re going to have to see how much say we have in this,” he said.

“We’re thinking it’s an auditor or treasurer situation. I’m sure they will reach out to (Fulton County Prosecutor) Scott Haselman and find out what steps (are involved). We will surely look at it and see what we can do to help the situation.”

In a related issue Commissioner Barnaby reported that a new aluminum staircase has been ordered to replace the staircase that was destroyed when the buildings were demolished. “I expect it will be in place in two months,” estimated Mr. Barnaby.

From there the audience was invited to see the progress on the new community center located next door in the old fire hall. Swanton has a verbal agreement with Fulton County to use the facility as a Senior Center to serve meals for Swanton and Delta senior citizens three days a week.

Meals are currently served at Trinity United Methodist Church on North Main St. in Swanton but the number of meals served has grown significantly over the past few years. The community center will have a larger seating capacity, more parking and no stairs to navigate to enter.

After the senior citizens Swanton residents will be allowed to rent the center. Rental rates and rules will soon be established. The center is expected to be available sometime this June after state inspections are completed.

Special assessments for street lights and leaf collections, currently at $23.00 and $15.50 per year per household collectively, were also discussed. The assessments have remained fixed since 2011 and while the receipts for leaf collection are sufficient, the receipts for street lights running approximately $20,000 in the red every year. To cover this deficit, a proposal was made to increase the annual assessment to $28.00 for 2017 then an additional $2.00 each year until the assessment reaches $36.00 in 2021. The First Reading of Ordinance 2016-11 to accept this proposal was approved by the Council 6-0.

The Planning Commission, acting on a request form the owners of 513 South Main St., have recommended the rezoning for several parcels on the same street. They are currently zoned B-3, Central Business, but have residential dwellings on the property. The recommendation would be to rezone the property to R2, One Family Residential. Before making this change a public hearing is required. There will be a Special Meeting to take action on this issue on May 26, 2016.

The Council also approved the posting of several jobs. Two positions for Public Service “C” or Regular Part Time Seasonal which will pay $10.00 per hour and not exceed 25 hours per week. These positions will maintain the parks in the Village. Two other positions for Public Service “D” or Irregular Part Time Seasonal which will pay #10.00 per hour and not exceed 10 hours per week. These positions will help with gardening in the Village.

Ms. Hoelzle asked for and received approval from the Council to enter into an agreement with Hank’s Plumbing and Heating of Toledo to complete the work on the Clark Street Sewer Separation Project at a cost of $852,940.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 PM.

Bill O’Connell may be reached at
publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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