City Law Director John Hatcher and Council President Jon Tomlinson listen to reports during Monday's City Council meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
City Law Director John Hatcher and Council President Jon Tomlinson listen to reports during Monday's City Council meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – In a unanimous vote, all seven voting members of City Council voted “no” to an ordinance that would make Van Wert City a sub-building department of Van Wert County, allowing for the utilization of the Miami County Building Department for providing code inspections and other building services over the State of Ohio.

Council was approached in June with the idea of outsourcing building inspection services. Since then, they heard presentations from Miami County and Allen County building departments. On Monday, they heard from Geoffery Eaton, the Superintendent/ Chief Building Official with the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Members of Council grew concerned about creating their own building department after reaching out to local builders, many of whom stated they would rather stay with the State and that they had no issues with using the State’s services.

“I spent more than 30 years handling property claims for Central Mutual Insurance,” said Councilman Joel Penton who noted that he dealt with contractors all over Ohio during that time. “I’m not aware, in that 30 years, of any significant problems with the State of Ohio inspectors with scheduling or what they required. As long as we got construction and engineer’s plans over in a timely manner, they took care of everything quickly.”

“I think if it’s not broke, why try to fix it,” added Penton.

Local contractor Ron Dull was in attendance during Monday’s meeting, and he echoed Penton’s statement noting that he’s never had an issue with the State; Dull questioned why Council was even thinking of switching departments.

“I’ve been doing State work since about 1980, and I agree with [Penton],” said Dull. “Not once have we really had any major problems as far as getting prints through state or anything after the prints were approved of getting an inspection. We call today, we get an inspection tomorrow.”

“I’d be interested in [knowing] who started this and why,” added Dull. “I’ve yet to know what the problem is. I’ll reiterate what [Penton] said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The ordinance, which passed on its first reading at the last Council meeting, failed on its second but will still be read a third and final time before a final decision is made.

In other business, Council voted to prepare legislation for a proposal to establish a Charter Commission, an issue that will be placed on the ballot for November 2020. Establishing a Charter Commission would not make the City of Van Wert a charter city; it would allow for a group of individuals to work on creating a charter that the city would abide by. That charter would then need to be voted on in an election in 2021 by the public in order to establish Van Wert as a charter city.

Council also voted to utilize the services Garry Hunter and the Ohio Municipal Attorney Association to serve as consultants to the charter city process.

During his report, Safety Service Director Jay Fleming announced that a bid for the Rosalie repavement project came back and was approved. Rosalie Drive from Jennings Road to Spencer Street will be repaved. Work on Perry Street, Golden Oaks, and patchwork on Jackson Street will also be completed. Fleming didn’t have a set date, but he expected the work to be done around October.

During her report, Auditor Martha Balyeat noted that the City has taken in $145,000 less than they did this time last year and have spent $44,381 more.

“Our budget was that we would spend more than what we took in, so that is pretty much in-line,” said Balyeat.

Penton reminded residents, during his Parks Department report, that the Parks Department is still in need of volunteers to help keep up with grass mowing.

Also during the meeting, an ordinance for a final plat for the Landings at Dickinson Farms for phase one was approved, and a Community Reinvestment Area Agreement between the City of Van Wert and Greve Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram was passed.

A public hearing to discuss the annexation of land on Westwood Drive and Ervin Road was set for Oct. 28 at 6:15 p.m.

With no further business, Council adjourned. The next City Council meeting is set for Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m.