By DAVID GREEN
The Fayette village council met in a short special session last Wednesday to approve a salary ordinance and hear the second reading of the budget appropriations for 2013.
Salary increases were approved for police officers and for two village office employees. Administrator Steve Blue said police wages need to increase to keep up with rates paid in surrounding areas. Fayette has lost officers who have taken jobs elsewhere.
Village fiscal officer Lisa Zuver was given a salary increase, Blue said, because she will be taking on additional duties following the retirement of Dee Lawrence. Blue will also have an increase because he started at a low rate and council members spoke at his time of hiring about increasing his pay in the future.
The updated salary ordinance includes pay for a third full-time police officer in case council decides to hire one. Chief Jason Simon has expressed his desire for another full-time officer.
Councilor Julia Ruger said that three full-time police officers are not needed, especially with so many part-time officers, added council member Diane Brubaker. Chief Simon responded by saying that three officers is what the department has had in the past. Scheduling part-time officers is difficult, he said, because they all have other jobs.
Mayor Ruth Marlatt read a statement at the beginning of the meeting about concerns she has regarding the budget.
"I have looked over the budget and have questions in several areas," she said. She wants the finance committee to take a close look at the proposed spending plan before the final vote Jan. 23.
Marlatt said she hopes citizens don't think that council is rushing through approval "without proper consideration and discussion."
In establishing the rules of council for 2013, Mayor Marlatt stated that meeting times would remain the same—council of the whole at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month and the regular meeting at 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday.
Ruger expressed her opposition to having the text of ordinances read at meetings before voting. She said that she's capable of reading them on her own and doesn't want to take up time at meetings by hearing them read aloud.
SEWERS—Blue said that letters were sent to 22 property owners where the sewer lines from the house will be moved, at the village's expense. A few additional changes might be needed as the project progresses.
The situation varies from house to house, he said, but generally the need is to change a sewer line that leads into the back yard to the front yard for a new connection at the street.
TREES—Several trees were removed in advance of the sewer project. The village office was not notified before the cutting began, Blue said, and an angry property owner called the office Thursday to complain about a large tree being cut.
Blue said a few trees are in the path of a new sewer line and in other cases, workers will cut through the root system of trees when digging trenches and the trees are likely to die. In that case, the village would be responsible for removing the tree in the future at an additional expense to taxpayers.
Blue said the tree that he received the call about was very mature and had hollow areas.
WATER—Council will vote Jan. 23 on a motion to hire Jeff Merillat as a water system operator to work when Tom Rupp is unavailable. He could also help with water main breaks and other water system maintenance needs.
CHARGES—VFO Zuver said she would like to work through the village ordinance regarding water fees with solicitor Tom Thompson because the wording isn't clear about charges in special situations, such as leaks that lead to a large water bill.
Blue stated that it wouldn't be necessary to pay an attorney. He will read through the document. Marlatt said if sections are unclear, council will re-write them.
HEARING—Blue said later that only two residents attended the zoning hearing Jan. 7 regarding construction of the Methodist Church’s proposed fellowship hall across the street from the church on Main Street.
One visitor wasn't pleased with the building plan and expressed concern about falling property values. The person was also concerned about an increase in traffic leading to the planned parking lot.
Church representatives said the hall would not be rented to the public, Blue said, and this would minimize traffic.