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DALTON VILLAGE COUNCIL: Village revises public participation policy

DALTON The village has revised its public participation policy in an attempt to encourage more residents to speak at council meetings.
Mayor Dennis Finley read the rules of participation during the regular monthly meeting Jan. 13.
Basically, a resident can sign up to speak by providing his or her name and topic of discussion. The mayor has the authority to decide if the topic is pertinent. If someone is denied, the mayor will state who it was and why the request was denied. Village council has the ability to override the mayor’s decision to allow the person to speak by a majority vote.
Finley said participants are asked to stay on topic, and address council without negative attacks on anyone, or profanity. A motion will be required to suspend the rules if council wishes to ask questions of the person making the presentation. The topic cannot be acted on unless it is on council’s agenda for that meeting.
A council member can request a special meeting or ask that the topic be placed on a following month’s agenda. An individual will have five minutes to speak about the topic, or a group may have 15 minutes to speak on the same topic area.
“I think what this does is it sets ground rules but it makes it fair and it will allow people to now start coming to council and speaking,” Finley said. “They can come, walk in the door, they can go ahead and sign up and they can do their thing.”
Council President Pat Sword said he was happy to see the change in policy. He has asked for a change in the policy in the past so that residents can attend meetings and tell village representatives what they’re thinking.
“This is excellent,” Sword said.
In other business,
Finley assigned council and community members to committees. Assignments include: Cemetery Board: Dee Rodi-Barbera, Jim Bucklew, John Hostetler, Don Thacker; Finance/Audit: Chairperson: Rodi-Barbera, Terry Johns, Mike Gamble; Planning Commission: Katy Biggs, John Hisey, Finley, Bill Kaderly, Mike Scheibe; Safety Committee: Chairperson Terry Johns, Rodi-Barbera and Bucklew; Street/Park Committee: Chairperson Pat Sword, Bucklew and Scheibe.
* Fiscal Officer Cheryl Drew informed council that Water/Sewer Superintendent Jim Abel plans to retire at the end of April. The village will need to seek a replacement.
* Rodi-Barbera made a motion to set aside $5,000 to contract for a financial consultant for the village. Council approved unanimously. Finley said the consultant would provide “checks and balances” and a second set of eyes.
* Council passed unanimously to table until the next meeting adopting the employee handbook to give all council members time to thoroughly look over the amended copy.
* Council passed unanimously the annual appropriation ordinance. Appropriations to provide for expenses and expenditures for 2020 totals $3,273,632. The list includes in part: general: $1,087,285, including police: $355,000, park: $7,500, street: $95,000, income tax: $10,000, mayor: $6,000, fiscal officer: $29,000, council: $4,000, other benefits, $12,000; street: $163,180; state highway improvement: $17,511; cemetery, $36,372; capital improvement: $459,853; water: $718,289; sewer: $598,398; sewer improvement: $150,000.
* Street Superintendent Dave Reynolds was named director of public service. The new title includes duties as cemetery clerk, with which Reynolds is familiar. Finley said he would like to commend Reynolds for already handling cemetery duties since the beginning of the year, and streamlining the process means saving the village $6,000, Finley said. The motion was approved unanimously.
* Sword made a motion to amend the title and classification for the fiscal officer to add that village hall be open eight hours a day with hours to be posted on the website and door. He requested a line be added to state the posted hours as part of the fiscal clerk’s description. Drew said she has been telling residents she is in the office typically at least 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If she leaves the office for business such as the bank or post office she posts a sign that she is temporarily away. The motion passed. Johns and Rodi-Barbera voted against.
* Council agreed that Bucklew serve as council representative and Blake Nussbaum II serve as village representative for 2020 on the East Wayne Fire District board.
* The safety committee will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 29, Feb. 12 and 26 at the police station.
* Streets and Parks will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at the village garage.
Council meets next Feb. 17.

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