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State Auditor's Report Clears Grand Rapids
Updated: 3 days ago
The second Grand Rapids Council Meeting of the year has held on Monday, January 23, inside the old fire hall on Front Street.
Council discussed the Utilities, Sewers, and Streetlights committee meeting that was held prior to the regular meeting. Committee members are in the process of reviewing water and sewer rates. During the committee meeting, an attendee spoke up to ensure the committee was speaking of the rates as a utility and not in terms of a for-profit business. Members stated the review is needed due to all the overhead that has been added to the general ledger to include salaries, maintenance cost, and other items.
All of council was present for the regular meeting that became heated at times. Council approved payment of village bills in the amount of $24,461.10 from January 6 through January 19. Councilmember Lynn Sylvain voted “no” due to no receipts being attached.
Mayor John Berry spoke about Suburban Natural Gas rates, which could be going up. Mayor stated he received a letter from the company and new rates are set to go into effect upon approval from Suburban Natural Gas. The mayor pointed out that Suburban Natural Gas sets the rates.
Councilmember Sylvain spoke to council regarding Robert’s Rules and claimed the mayor was violating Sunshine Laws. Sylvain requested council and the mayor be trained annually on both. Council President Rachel Smith then spoke up and agreed due to others violating Sunshine Laws by publicly disclosing items that were discussed in executive session.
According to Smith, Sylvain e-mailed details of an executive sessions to the village fiscal officer and village solicitor which then made it public record. Smith agreed that every council member needs training.
Robert's Rules of Order is commonly used to set procedures for public meetings. Sunshine Laws give residents access to government meetings and records. According to the Ohio Attorney General, executive sessions are closed door sessions that are initiated when a member makes a motion to conduct such a session. Members then vote on whether or not to go into the executive session. According to the Ohio Revised Code these meetings are for deliberation only and members are unable to vote or make decisions during these meetings.
Only certain topics may be discussed in executive session to include:
The appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of an employee or official. This also includes the investigation of charges or complaints against an employee or official.
The purchase of property for public purposes or the sale of property.
Conferences with the board’s attorney to discuss matters which are the subject of pending or imminent court action.
Preparing for, conducting or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with employees.
Matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or rules or state statutes.
Specialized details of security arrangements.
At the end of the meeting Mayor John Berry discussed the state audit report. The State of Ohio audited the Village of Grand Rapids from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021. Auditors looked at the January 2022 termination payment to former Village Administrator Chad Hoffman and found no exceptions, essentially meaning the audit found no issue.
In a meeting in January of 2022 Councilperson Sylvain questioned the estimated $70,000 that was paid to Hoffman upon his exit from the village. The amount reflected earned sick leave and unused vacation time.
Auditors also found “no exceptions” regarding the appointment of interim Administrator Chad Beyer, claims of the former Village Administrator and Solicitor having a business relationship, and questions of the village purchasing policy.
Many other items were addressed in the report which can be downloaded below
Village meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. inside the old fire hall on Front Street in Grand Rapids.
Towpath Media would like to thank David Folwer for helping with the audio recording of village meetings. Full Meeting Minutes can be found a GrandRapidsOhio.com.