Wauseon City Council Debates What Constitutes A Legal Executive Session

During the November 16, 2020 Wauseon City Council meeting, a lengthy discussion was held concerning what constitutes a legal Executive Session. This occurred because at the November 2, 2020 meeting, President Shane Chamberlin called for an ES which Attorney Tom McWatters asserted was not for a valid reason.

The Executive Session was held, “to consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of a public employee,” but since that meeting, McWatters sent a letter to council members about his concerns, as it seems they actually wanted to discuss employee evaluation.

On November 16, 2020, the discussion began when Councilor Harold Stickley asked, quoting from the written minutes of the meeting,  “Why are we changing the way we do our employee evaluations.  Mayor Huner said the evaluation process was made by Clemans & Nelson.  She said they were completed differently in the past and that this year, Human Resource Officer, Sarah Wheeler, met with all supervisors and department heads to train on the proper and consistent way to use the employee evaluation grading scale.

She said they are now doing the evaluations according to how the compensation plan originally intended.  Councilor Jeff Stiriz said he was never trained when he was Council President the proper way to complete the evaluation.  Jamie Giguere (Village Finance Director) said President Chamberlin was contacted three times to attend a training.  There was a lot of discussion about the employee evaluation process.”

Also from the written minutes, “Councilor Stickley  also about a letter he received from Tom McWatters pertaining to the executive session from the previous meeting.  Councilor Stickley said the letter states that there are could be legal consequences if council voted a certain way. McWatters said he would be derelict in his duties if he did not make council aware of improper procedures and that he had no intention to directing him how to vote, just that there was a procedural error which could make voting on the matter questionable.

He went on to explain the reasons recognized by the Ohio legislature for going into executive session and that an employee evaluation is not a valid reason.  Councilor Scott Stiriz said he thought they were going to discuss the wages of a public employee which is tied to the employee evaluation. Mr. McWatters said that in the Personnel Meeting that went into executive session, which included himself, Mayor Huner, Keith Torbet and Sarah Wheeler, he pointed out during the executive session that they were not discussing a valid topic and President Chamberlin quickly ended the executive session.  There was a lot of discussion about executive sessions.”

In other business at the November 16 meeting, Council voted to approve:

  • the minutes for the prior meeting and payment of bills
  • Report given by Personnel Committee Councilor Steve Schneider provided a summary of the November 2, 2020 Personnel Committee meeting.  He said most of the meeting took place in executive session to consider the promotion, demotion, dismissal, discipline or compensation of a public employee.  He said after the executive session the committee recommended accepting the performance evaluation of the Clerk of Council.
  • Motion to table the Personnel Committee recommendation to accept the performance evaluation of the Clerk of Council moved by Councilor Stickley and seconded by Councilor Scott Stiriz.  Councilor Scott Stiriz said he would like to have another Personnel Committee meeting on the matter.
  • Report given by Council Patrick Griggs on the November 11 Tree Commission meeting.  He said only four members were present so there was no one taking notes to create minutes.  They discussed the 2021 Tree City banquet plans.  Councilor Scott Stiriz asked how many people were on the Tree Commission and was told six.  He then asked if it was the responsibility of Council Griggs to take minutes and was told no.  No action taken.
  • Report of the November 11 Buildings and Grounds Committee given by Councilor Stickley.  The committee met to discuss the possibility of obtaining a parcel of property behind McDonalds. Mr. Jeffrey Soclof of Coldwell Banker was present via Zoom. Matt Gilroy of FCEDC and Keith Torbet were present. After discussion, the committee left the matter in the hands of Matt Gilroy for possible donation of the property to a local non profit group. No action taken.

In the Department Head reports, Fire Chief Rick Sluder said that union negotiaions are nearly complete. Police Chief Kevin Chittenden reported that the test for the 2nd Shift Dispatcher is complete and interviews are this wee. Councilor Jeff Stiriz asked what the increase amount is for the PD union employees this year and Chittenden said he believes it is 3%.

Keith Torbet, Village Administrator informed council that Mr. Soclof is meeting with the Wauseon Area Foundation so he will probably have an update in the coming weeks. The PACE Board met and decided to adopt the City’s Public Records Policy. Christmas decorations are being put up throughout the town and Leaf Pick up is still going until November 30.  He planned to attend a meeting regarding Block grants and is also working assessment management at the Water Treatment Plant.  McWatters said that he may have a draft of the Fire Department Union Contract to present to the Finance Committee in the next couple weeks.

In Legislation, council voted to approve the First Reading of the following:

  • Resolution 20 Authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement for Indigent Defense Services in County Court with the Fulton County Commissioners
  • Resolution 21 Authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement for a Countywide Emergency Management Agency pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 5502

Under New Business, the following was passed:

  • Motion to authorize the Director of finance to appropriate $3500 within the Water Revenue Fund account entitled Water Offcie Capital and $3500 within the Water Revenue Fund account entitled Water Reclamation Office Capital
  • Motion to approve the 2021 schedule of Council meetings, with only one meeting in September
  • Motion to authorize employee Christmas gifts in the total amount of $4875

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6 p.m.


 

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