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Councilman’s suggestion meets resistance

September 30, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer (kschwendeman@mojonews.com) , Morning Journal News

EAST PALESTINE - Following the resignation of council member Scott Rauch in August, Councilman Don Elzer believes the committees Rauch chaired should be divided among other members.

Over the course of his 11 years on council, Rauch was chair of the police, fire, utility and park, recreation and cemetery committees.

Elzer said that one council member chairing the park, recreation and cemetery committee and the public safety committee is taking responsibility for a "huge chunk of the village."

He suggested Councilwoman Endia Wisser chair the safety committee, Councilman Alan Cohen chair the park, recreation and cemetery committee, and Councilwoman Ellen Beagle chair the utility committee.

Wisser is currently chair of the utility committee and Beagle chairs the legislation committee. Under Elzer's suggestion, Beagle would chair the utility and legislation committees and Wisser would have the safety committee.

In a prior discussion, Village Solicitor Shirley Smith said council does have the authority to change the committees, but Beagle said they should wait until January of next year, which is when reorganization is slated to occur according to village charter.

"I don't like changing something around now. I have become a stickler for the charter and I want to follow it closely," Beagle said.

She also said that she would like to be presented with a definition of the committees. All committees consist of three council members, with one acting as chair.

Cohen, who replaced Rauch this month, asked Elzer if he felt that he couldn't fill the chairman positions Rauch held.

"Why is this being brought up?" he asked.

Prior to taking council, Cohen expressed an interest in the park and had said he would like to see it utilized in more ways.

Elzer told Cohen it had nothing to do with him, but that he had also made the suggestion a year ago. He said he brought it up again because of the changes on council recently and felt that now was a good time to reorganize the committees.

But Cohen said they should wait until January, as Beagle suggested. He also pointed out that Mayor Margo Zuch has the authority to appoint committees.

"The mayor appoints the committee and does it at the organization meeting that we hold in January. I don't understand why this is even an issue," he said.

Zuch said she thinks the current system works well and noted that the police chief and fire chief also work with safety committee members. She said that due to being semi-retired, Cohen has the time to dedicate to the committees that others working jobs may not have.

On a related matter, Cohen stressed during his council report the two park levies on the election ballot are renewals and will not result in tax increases for residents.

"If those levies don't pass then this park is in trouble," he said.

He then advised council that they should consider a one dollar discount on passes for seniors at the public pool, and that the village will likely need to purchase a new chlorine pump in the future.

"(The pumps) at the pool are very old. If they stop working we will have to shut down and repair could take days or weeks," he said.

He added that purchasing a new pump would be an expense, but would save money in the long run.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said he and Finance Director Traci Thompson have already taken that into consideration and are getting prices.

 
 

 

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