Councilman Stan Agler speaks about what the city can do to to improve its financial situation at Monday's City Council meeting. (Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
BY LINDSAY McCOY
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - An ultimate decision has been made by Van Wert City Council pertaining to the state performance audit. Not enough support was shown by council to invest a large sum of money for a state audit, and the issue will not be brought in front of council for a vote.
As a former auditor, Council President Gary Corcoran, remarked that he is in favor of audits but was concerned that Van Wert was being compared to other cities that were very different in size and on a different level altogether."There are still a lot of unknowns," said Corcoran. "I think we are smart enough as a council to to do this. This is doable." Corcoran believes Auditor Martha Balyeat has been doing the right thing by continually making council aware of the financial issues at stake. He also believes it is now up to council to respond to these warnings and set a plan in motion.
Mayor Don Farmer agreed that a standard of performance is hard to establish, and it will be important in the future for council to define the level of performance required in the city of Van Wert. It was also noted that no plan has ever been made to reverse the trend of shifting money from the safety tax and other funds, which has been taking place following the year 2000.
"I simply want a plan for moving forward," said Balyeat. "We need a place to start." Council will now be leaving the state performance audit behind and looking for a new plan of action to bring money back to the city. Many councilmen agreed that more data should be gathered about other cities and what they have done to save money.
Councilman Stan Agler argued that council can tend to this issue through research. In 2013, the city remains ahead of spending. If spending issues cannot be corrected, there is still time to perform an audit in the future. Agler sees this as a win-win situation.
"I don't think we need to invest this large, lump sum of money that could hurt us more than help us with this economy," said Councilman John Marshall. "We don't need to spend this."
An ordinance will be passed for Safety Service Director Jay Fleming to contract and award bids for the remodeling and repair of the Van Wert Municipal Building. The 2012 Formula Grant money will be used for new sidewalk around the front of the building and a handicap ramp. Broken bricks will also be repaired to clean up the look of this building.
Fleming also reported that bids were opened for the project of a street light at Shannon St. and Fox. Rd. The lowest relieved bid came in a little over $91,000 with the poles posing as an additional cost. The project total estimate of $111,000 is much less than the expected $150,000. The city is now waiting on additional equipment to arrive for construction to begin.
A resolution was approved for Law Director John Hatcher to sign a settlement agreeing to the devaluation of the Walmart property. The city, county, and Van Wert City School's Board of Education have agreed to the settlement offer. Total settlement values for 2010 and 2011 totaled $8,624,340 and $7,710,580.
A TIF agreement was involved to repay the bond and a payment agreement has been made. Equity will be paying the county for shortfalls, and the bond will be paid off as originally agreed upon.
A resolution was also passed to amend the current resolution for water and sewer fees.