Council accepts councilman’s resignation, considers legal response to EPA


GALION — Prior to the April 26 meeting of Galion City Council, Second Ward Representative Aaron Ivy resigned from his seat due to health issues. Applications for Ivy’s replacement will be accepted through May 9, and council will interview candidates at their next meeting, which will be held on May 10. (More details can be found on the city website.)

Council member Mike Richart said, “It has been a pleasure to work with [Ivy] despite our disagreements.”

During the meeting, the six-member council tended to thirteen items of legislation. Three of the items were simply given their first readings: Legal Services Contract, Amending 2022 Appropriations, and Splash Pad Bid Authorization.

The first of these, Legal Services Contract, received lengthy discussion. The ordinance would provide for the retention of services of an attorney who specializes in EPA interactions, to assist Galion Director of Law Thomas Palmer in responding to the Ohio EPA regarding the city’s water treatment compliance measures. Palmer stated, “He’ll provide expertise that I can’t provide.”

Council member Paula Durbin questioned the city’s need to solicit the attorney’s assistance: “Shouldn’t we just talk to the EPA instead of hiring an attorney?”

Mayor Tom O’Leary rebutted, “Yes, with the right people with the right expertise… We want to avoid federal trouble by bringing in an expert early, not too late.”

The remaining nine ordinances and one resolution were voted to have the rules suspended, to move them to final readings, and each of these passed unanimously. Durbin objected to rule suspension on an ordinance entitled Property Transfer — Port Authority, but was outvoted, and this piece of legislation was also eventually unanimously passed.

Finance Committee Chair Tom Fellner called the ordinance “an excellent opportunity” for the city to see usage of a lot that has been sitting empty on S. Market St for years. O’Leary explained to council that the city had obtained the property through tax foreclosure, and had already performed preliminary clean-ups to the extent that the land is able to be utilized by an interested local business.

Approved legislation also included:

  • Internet Auction: an annual sale of surplus city property on the website ‘govdeals’
  • GPD Agreement — Water Plant: Utilities Committee Chair Kara Ault explained that ARPA funds will pay “for an engineer to work on the deficiencies identified by the EPA,” with planning to begin upon passage of the ordinance, and work slated to commence in the winter.
  • Amending Ordinance No. 2021-116: a “cleaning up [of] fund numbers,” according to City Auditor Brian Saterfield
  • Annual Salt Bid
  • CHIP Partnership Agreement: provides for Galion’s allocation of the county’s homeowner rehabilitation assistance funding. (Applications and information are available at the city building and online.)
  • Bid Authorization — Brandt Road Turn Lane: O’Leary explained that this allows for bids to be placed for an infrastructure development project at the old PECO site, establishing access off of Brandt Road.
  • ARPA Funds Authorize Acceptance: Saterfield said this ordinance simply allows for proper documents to be uploaded, in order for the city to be able to receive an anticipated $522,000
  • [Resolution] Then and Now Certificate: pays a bill for water treatment chemicals
  • OCJS Grant — Police: Galion Police Chief Marc Rodriguez told council that this money — which requires no local contribution — will be used to update dispatch equipment, as well as body- and dash-cameras. Rodriguez said the department’s existing body cameras have been failing, and that better equipment “will allow for more transparency and also help with prosecution.”

An ARPA Funding Discussion was held after the legislative portion of the meeting. Troy Freyman, a board member of Sara Beegle Child Day Care Center, requested that council consider assisting the facility so the center can hire more teachers. Ault inquired about how grant funding had been sought and reinvested by the center. Palmer recommended that the discussion return to the Finance Committee for further consideration and possible drafting of an ordinance.

In other business, Palmer shared that the final contract for transfer of the Central Hotel has been signed; the city now officially owns the property. During the “Mayor’s Report,” O’Leary highlighted that the city’s general fund balance is $7.3 million.

President of Council Eric Webber commended all who helped respond to the fire at Mill Creek on April 23rd. O’Leary asserted that the quick and comprehensive response was the result of the Galion community’s commitment to providing local services to its citizens.

By Missy Robison

For Galion Inquirer

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