By: Chelsie Firestone – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The regularly scheduled October 24 meeting of the West Unity Village Council marked the first meeting in which the Fiscal Officer, Becky Thatcher, took over the reins of her new position. With a full agenda, the meeting also marked one of the busiest the council has had in some time as they worked towards taking proactive measures in setting the village’s 2014 budget and pay scales early, passing an ordinance regarding synthetic drugs, and addressed the retirement and bid for re-election by Councilor Rich Merilat.
After passing a change in verbage in the policy and procedures handbook that dealt with defining the employment of both the village Fiscal Officer and the Village Administrator as salaried over-time exempt employees, council moved into a short executive session. Upon return to open session, council moved on to address one resolution and three ordinances. All were passed with a suspension of the rules that would normally require three readings prior to the passing of new legislation.
Resolution 10-2013-06 establishes the rates within the specified ranges of pay of certain officers and employees of the Village of West Unity for the calendar year 2014. The rates of pay are as follows:
- Chief of Police – $38,940.72 annual salary
- Assistant Chief of Police – $32,803.68 annual salary
- Full-Time Police Department Patrolman – $30,226.56 annual salary
- Full-Time Police Department Patrolman/School Resource Officer – $29,792.00 annual salary
- Maintenance Supervisor – $18.35 per hour
- Village Maintenance Person with more than two years of service to the Village as of January 1, 2009 – $14.65 per hour
- Village Maintenance Person with less than two years of service to the Village as of January 1, 2009 – $12.75 per hour
- Village Fiscal Officer – $31,000 probationary salary per year with annual salary to be set at the end of the probationary period
- Village Administrator – $40,340.00 annual salary
- Deputy Clerk – $14.70 per hour.
In conjunction with the resolution, council also passed Ordinance 2013-05 which establishes the ranges and rates of pay of certain officers and employees of the village as well as further defines each position’s requirements of pay, including number of hours worked per pay period.
Ordinance 2013-06 is the Village’s 2014 Annual Appropriation Ordinance, which brought before council early this year in order to give former Fiscal Officer Beth Rediger the opportunity to work with Thatcher and council on any issues that arose pertaining to the forming of the budget. The new budget saw only minor changes from the 2013 budget. The 2013 total budget was figured at $1,687,740.55; the 2014 total budget at $1,545,795.70.
Having these financial matters addressed, council moved forward to pass ordinance 2013-07, which amends Chapter 513 of the Codified Ordinances of The Village of West Unity, Ohio to include section 513.15 prohibiting the manufacture, sale, distribution, and possession of synthetic drugs and synthetic drug lookalike substances.
The ordinance is a proactive stance by the village in response to the rise of use and sale of synthetic drugs and similar legislation passed in neighboring villages and cities which could force those selling the substances to look for villages without ordinances to sell. The manufacture and sale of synthetic drugs has proven to be difficult to legislate as those manufacturing the substances have been able to make small changes in the chemical composition of the substances to circumvent the law. New legislation, such as the ordinance passed by the West Unity Village Council, hopes to address this problem by addressing lookalike substances as well as those currently known about. As Village Solicitor Ryan Thompson stated, “if it looks like, smells like, and acts like a synthetic drug then it will be treated like a synthetic drug”. The ordinance addresses various chemical compositions, lookalike substances, and substances commonly referred to as “bath salts” and “spice”.
Following the passing of all legislative matters, council also heard from Councilor Rich Merillat, who will be retiring from council effective October 31, 2013. In accordance with the rules of retirement as they pertain to those holding elected positions, it is necessary that Merillat retire and remove himself from council for at least 60 days.
This will leave the remainder of Merillat’s unexpired term open. The remainder of the term is 26 months and the position will be filled by selection of council. Anyone interested in filling the vacancy needs to submit a letter of interest to Village Administrator Ric Beals by no later than November 14.
It should be noted that, while Merillat is retiring from his current term, that he will still be on the ballot as he runs for re-election for a new term. If elected, Merillat’s new term would be for a new four full years.
Chelsie Firestone can be reached at email@example.com