Galion City Council credit card policy headed back to the drawing board; Revolving loan program finalized, Harding Way paving project will start this summer


Revolving loan program finalized, Harding Way paving project will start this summer

By Russ Kent - Galion Inquirer



GALION — It’s back to the drawing board for the City of Galion’s proposed credit card legislation.

After more than two months of discussion, an ordinance repealing previous legislation setting a $5,000 limit on a City of Galion credit card failed Tuesday night by a 4-3 vote.

The new legislation not only would have repealed the $5,000 limit, it would have spelled out new policies and rules and safeguards and limits for all city-owned credit cards in the future.

There is no consensus among city council members, the mayor’s office, the treasurer’s office and other city officials on credit limits, who has control and oversight issues over the credit card, who sets limits on cards, who can use the credit card and for what purposes the card — if the city actually gets one — can be used.

Actually, there is no consensus on whether a city credit card is actually necessary.

Currently the city has some accounts, such as with home-improvement stores, that are not technically credit cards. And, if something needs to be purchased quickly — gas, hotel rooms, food, office equipment, or items purchased via Amazon or other online websites — a personal credit card is used, and then the employee who’s card was used is reimbursed.

In Galion’s past, there was credit card misuse, which in part led to Galion being placed on fiscal emergency for several years. That is the reason for hesitancy from some about acquiring a city-controlled credit card.

Some council members feel a credit card is needed: that it makes online purchasing easier, and that there are now many more controls and records of credit card transactions —- by both bank and city officers — that would provide plenty of oversight to get a credit cards. It also is believed that it would provide a more efficient way to do bookkeeping.

Others say a city credit card is not a necessity. They say the city has gotten along for years without a City of Galion credit card, and there is no need to make changes to a system that seems to be working.

City attorney Thomas Palmer made efforts to explain the rules and regulations concerning city-controlled credit cards, but admitted legislation in the Ohio Revised Code is confusing.

“I understand this seems as clear as mud,” he said. “And it is. But that is how it is written.”

Legislation passed more than two months ago setting the $5,000 credit limit, does not met the needs of the Ohio Revised Code. So new legislation is required and more discussion.

In the final vote Tuesday night on Ordinance 2020-25, council members Thomas Fellner, Richard Ivy and Tammy Siclair-Erlsten voted yes. Council members Gail Baldinger, Ken Bodkins, Mark Triplett and Mike Richart voted no on the legislation.

Mayor Tom O’Leary has stated at previous meetings that he does not think a city credit card is necessary.

In other news, council members passed — as an emergency — legislation approving the issuance of notes totaling more that $2.5 million for planned and previously announced improvements in the city.

Also passed — as an emergency — was legislation laying out the new agreement between the Galion Port Authority and Galion City Council. The Port Authority has agreed to be the administrator of a revolving loan program, funded by the city, to help Galion area business who need help coping with financial hardships due to COVID-19. The City of Galion has given $190,000 to the port authority for the loan program that will provide zero-interest, 12-month loans to Galion businesses.

For details on that program visit our www.galioninquirer.com

Also passed — as an emergency — was an agreement between Galion and the Ohio Department of Transportation spelling out conditions for the Harding Way urban paving project. O’Leary said that project is expected to start around August.

Galion Fire Chief Phil Jackson was given permission to apply for a $712,000 SAFER grant from the FEMA and the Office of Homeland Security to hire three new firefighters. The grant will pay for salaries and benefits for new firefighters for three years. There is no match or cost-share required by the city.

“I have three fire fighters set to retire within the first year of this grant and an additional three or four that could retire by the end of that (three-year period),” Jackson said.

In comments at the end of the meeting, O’Leary expressed his frustration at the length of time it is taking CARES Act funding to get to municipalities, like Galion.

“That funding is needed,” he said. “Maybe this is a good time to send out an email to our state legislators and try to get moving on this.

He also expressed frustration with the slow pace of the Charles Street sewer project, saying the new target date of June 30 set by the contractor of the project is not good enough.”

“That is not acceptable,” O’Leary said. “We will talk with him and make some efforts to speed that project up.”

The mayor also talked about the fact that while city playgrounds are still not open to city residents, that closure will end in the near future. There will be sanitizer available at those sites and steps are being take to get them cleaned regularly and to make certain people are abiding by regulations set by the Ohio Department of Health.

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Revolving loan program finalized, Harding Way paving project will start this summer

By Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer