Last Monday night's Newcomerstown Village Council meeting brought a bit of surprise to council members when Mayor Steve Guy read a letter of resignation from the village planner Tom Cinefro.
The resignation, sent by Cinefro, said he had recently been offered a job that was more congruent with his career goals and would be resigning from his position with the village effective July 19.
Cinefro was not present at the meeting.
Several council members voiced that they had no forewarning that Cinefro was planning to resign until Monday night. Councilmember Janet Bush said she wished to speak with Cinefro regarding the sudden resignation before council acted.
Councilmember Dave Hickman then made the motion not to accept Cinefro's resignation, with council agreeing not to act on it at this time.
Cinefro has held the village planner position since April 2010. He had previously held the position of fiscal officer and has been employed with the village since April 2008.
Other business discussed at council's meeting:
* Councilmember Hickman said the advertising bids for the street paving project would open until July 23.
* Board of Public Affairs member Jim Friel said the BPA was still planning to do some restoration of the Park Hill water reservoir and was looking funding. He said they are planning to meet with RCAP (Rural Community Assistance Planning), Sherry Loos to discuss the possibility of the water lines maps being put on a GPS system. The GPS would be more efficient and eliminate the paper maps that normally become worn out or have the potential to be misplaced.
* Village Solicitor Shawn Lindsay said he had completed the draft of the ordinance for department head expenditure and requirement of the mayor giving prior authorization for all spending within each department. Council later approved a process in which each department head will complete a purchase order for expenses (within the $500 budget) and submit to the mayor.
* Mayor Guy said he has recently been receiving numerous complaints about high grass within the village, especially on foreclosed, vacant properties. Lindsay agreed to look at the updated ordinance and check on any recourse that the village can take on the issue. He said the ordinance calls for notification to the property owner, then a criminal citation will go into effect if action is not taken by the owner in a reasonable time frame. Lindsay plans to meet with Police Chief Gary Holland this week to discuss enforcement of the criminal citation process.
* Mayor Guy said the Tuscarawas County Health Department had another inspection at the landfill site on July 12 and continues to find problems with the integrity of monitoring cap. Thus, the landfill site still remains uncertified by the health department. Mayor Guy said further corrections to the site will be necessary before the next inspection takes place.
* Councilmember Earl McCormick made the motion for executive session to discuss personnel and possible litigation. No action was taken and the regular session resumed.
* The updated Newcomerstown Police Department Operational Policy & Procedure manual was approved by council.
* Following a third reading, the ordinance was approved for repayment of training and materials (uniforms, equipment, etc.) of new employees that voluntarily resign during their six month probationary period after they have received the training or materials.
* Third reading was given to the ordinance to increase the village's sewer rates. Motion made by McCormick to table the ordinance at this time, other councilmembers agreeable. McCormick said council wanted to review the ordinance again.
* Approval of slip repair at 307 Cross Street was tabled by councilmember Hickman. He said council needs to look at some other possible options before acting.
* Council approved to cancel the village employee dental insurance plan, effective Aug. 31, 2010. Council suggested letters be given to each village employee that the dental plan will be terminated. Council wished to keep the plan intact through August as to give employees time to obtain other dental insurance coverage (self pay options). Fiscal officer Kim Meek said that at least 10 village employees would have to sign-up to have the opportunity to have a group rate plan.
"The decision of canceling the dental plan was a difficult task. We appreciate each and every village employee, but we have no choice, we must reduce all cost now," Bush said.
McCormick said the village's funds are down about $3,000 in comparison to last year. He added, "We are in a serious money crunch and we are not going to get ourselves out of it very soon."
McCormick added that the village will plan to check about applying for emergency grants.
Council also agreed to have salaried employees be changed to hourly wages as a way to work with reducing expenses. The village currently has seven salaried employees.
McCormick also suggested meeting with department heads to look at scheduling tactics as another way to reduce costs of the village.
Council's next meeting will be Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.