Plain City residents ask council be ‘conservative’

By Andrea Chaffin

June 11, 2014

Citing the need for conservative spending, Plain City residents — including one who is a former council member — asked council to reconsider its recent vote to approve more than a quarter-million of equipment purchases.

“I think council should be thoughtful in moving forward on this because in the past, this council has been known as being conservative with the village monies,” said Doug Saxour, who served on council for five years up until January. “I don’t believe these actions equate to conservative spending. That’s a lot of money that can go in other directions.”

Saxour also said he wanted to “remind” newer council members that measures do not have to be approved as submitted. Council has the power to make amendments to recommendations, such as purchasing one piece of equipment and putting a plan in place to purchase the rest, he said.

Resident and local business owner Chuck Gaul also spoke to council, saying he agreed with Saxour’s comments.

“All we’ve heard for four to five years is we don’t have any funds and now all the sudden we’re telling everyone in town we have money to spend?” he said. “Has business been that good? Have we really collected that much money?”

As previously reported, Village Administrator Kevin Vaughn requested $266,000 to replace a bucket truck and buy a one-ton dump truck and wood chipper. The money will also be used to replace water meters and the village salt barn.

His request will require an amendment to the 2014 village budget.

Three votes are required to pass the amendment. Council approved the first vote unanimously last month. While council approved the second vote at its last meeting, it was not unanimous. Council member Leslie Perkins questioned the spending during both meetings and voted no at the second reading.

A third reading — and final approval — was expected Monday night. However, council members agreed to delay the vote until the next meeting, given the absence of council members Perkins and Colleen Davis. The final vote is expected at its next meeting June 23.

Gaul, who owns C&C Repairs, also spoke to council regarding another item. According to him, council is selling a lawn mower the village does not own. Originally, the mower, owned by a church, was stolen from Gaul’s lot. The property was eventually recovered by the police department after, Gaul says, he pointed officers in the right direction.

After filing a claim, Gaul received payment from his insurance company and had to replace the mower for the church, he said.

“That is still my mower — I don’t care what you say,” Gaul said. “I don’t think it’s right Plain City sells that mower and gets the money.”

Police Chief James Hill said he spoke to the prosecutor’s office about the issue. At one point, if Gaul would’ve reimbursed the insurance company for the claim, the mower could have been relinquished back to him. But, Gaul said he was never told that was an option.

Officials say it’s now too late.

Since Gaul submitted the claim, the insurance company holds the rights to the mower and turned it over to the village, said Village Solicitor Paul-Michael La Fayette.

By law, the village can only sell the mower in specific ways, such as on, said Mayor Sandra Adkins.

Saxour asked if the mower could be donated. Council members agreed to hold off on the vote until La Fayette looked into whether the mower could be donated back to the church.

In other business on Monday, council:

• Agreed to opt-out of purchasing a $770 annual membership to the Ohio Municipal League, a government organization.

• Heard complaints from resident Sarah Portman regarding village workers not wearing hard hats while working in streets. She also questioned village parking restrictions.

• Discussed whether a fourth baseball diamond should be created at the park. La Fayette, who serves with the Plain City Area Baseball Association, said he knows there is some private interest.

• Reminded members of an upcoming work session, scheduled for 6 p.m., July 8, in council chambers. Members are encouraged to brainstorm goals. The meeting is open to the public.

Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.