By DAVID GREEN
Personnel issues dominated the evening last week for Fayette village council members. Two resignations were accepted, an employee was hired and a pair of salary increases were approved.
Jeff Merillat is back with the village as a full-time employee, hired as the utilities superintendent at a pay rate of $19 an hour. Council intends to hire one more employee who will focus on streets and grounds, but is willing to become licensed for sewer and water work as a back up to Merillat. Several inquiries have been made about the second position even before it's been advertised
Pay raises were approved for village administrator Steve Blue to $34,000 a year and for village worker Dean Myers to $12 an hour. Voting was approved by a 4-0 count, with council members Julia Ruger and Diane Brubaker absent.
Village fiscal officer (VFO) Lisa Zuver is asking for a pay increase since she has taken on extra duties following the retirement of tax administrator Dee Lawrence. Council met in a closed session to discuss the issue and later voted to advertise for part-time office help to serve as a backup in case of illness. No decision was made about Zuver's request. It was stated that if Zuver doesn't agree with council's decision to make adjustments to her salary, she will return to her VFO duties only and a part-time employee will be hired.
Councilors accepted the resignations of part-time police officers Adam Berg and Michael Polley and gave police chief Jason Simon permission to advertise for additional part-time officers. Some council members thought he was already seeking help, but Simon said he was still waiting for permission from council since he was previously told not to hire anyone else.
Chief Simon is recommending that council hire one additional full-time officer in addition to part-time help.
CSO—Blue said he heard from a few citizens who were concerned about trenching for sewer work in the area of the former Fayette Tubular Products property. Soil is not to be disturbed in the adjacent property where the school once stood and clean-up from contamination continues at the factory site.
Blue said the Ohio EPA has approved the project, but any dirt hauled away from the site will be tested for contamination, at a cost of about $1,000.
Additional costs will be incurred to meet the demands from Camille Ajaka who oversees the cleanup of the factory site and monitoring of adjacent areas. Ajaka told Blue that trenching should not be done in the strip of land directly west of the former school site. Further concerns were expressed about an area of Gamber Road and in a location where a monitoring well exists.
Blue said one issue remains concerning the removal of a tree for sewer work. The tree is in the right-of-way, but the property owner has a vehicle parked under the tree.
Village solicitor Tom Thompson will send a letter to the property owner stating that the village requests that the vehicle is moved during cutting, but if not, cutting will proceed. Blue said a crane will be needed for the job to avoid damaging the vehicle, and this will cost extra.
PARKING—Councilor Dave Wheeler asked if an ordinance exists regarding parking in front of downtown businesses. Blue said there is one, but Chief Simon has concerns about ticketing for violations when no signs are posted. He is awaiting an answer from prosecutor Mark Powers.
"We really ought to have signs up if we're going to enforce it," Wheeler said. "There's no reason to have an ordinance if we can't enforce it."
Blue estimated that 16 signs would be needed.
OPPOSITION—Council agreed to send a letter of opposition to Columbus regarding House Bill 5 that would give the state control over the collection of local income tax. Thompson said the bill has been watered down from the original proposal, but is still considered as not favorable to communities.
Other council action included approving the 2013 appropriations, reappointing Brad White to the park board, and buying a new phase converter for the water plant from Custom Ag for $4,800.