stars-storyMIDDLEPORT – The Middleport Village Council held a meeting on Monday, March 10, and discussed hiring a grant writer, the Salisbury Township Fire Protection contract, and the Big Bend Football league were continued; as well as having a few new topics brought up.

The minutes from the February 24, 2014 meeting were read and approved. The council then approved the payment of bills totaling $23,776.89. The finance report, income tax report, public works report, and refuse report were also approved.

There were not many items to be discussed this time around, but the first was for the council to approve the advertising for the grant administrator/economic developer position. At first, the position was to be an independent contractor position, in which case people applying for the job would also make their bid for salary for the position. Instead of approving this method of hiring, a motion was made to change the position from an independent contractor to a village employee. There was some debate about this with Mayor Michael Gerlach and council members who opposed this action. They argued their objection that it would cost more money to hire a grant writer as a village employee, because they would be paid hourly. Ultimately, the motion was passed to change the position from an independent contractor to a village employee. Those council members who favored this change said “our downtown needs revitalization”, and they believe this would be the best way to do so.

Due to the change in type of employee the grant writer will be the advertising must be re-written. During the next meeting the council will discuss the specifics of the job, such as hourly wages, job description, etc. and it will again be up for approval for the advertising of the position and for the village to start accepting applications.

Following the discussion about the grant writer job, the council moved on to continue to find a solution on their fire protection contract with Salisbury Township. Currently, Salisbury pays the Middleport Fire Department $1,100 a year for services, this rate has not been changed since sometime in the 70’s. The current cost for the Middleport Fire Department to service Salisbury Township is around $14,000. It had been discussed that a fire levy would be put in place in Salisbury; however, that would not generate funds until next year. The council members were all in agreement the rate should be raised, but did not want to jump the rate from the current $1,100 to $14,000 without knowing Salisbury Township’s financial status and without talking with them first.

The issue was tabled until the next meeting. The council is hoping the fire chief and a representative from Salisbury Township could be in attendance next meeting to help come to an agreement on the rate charged for fire protection.

Sara Pullins returned to represent the Big Bend Youth Football League. The league would like to have exclusive access to the football field because they say sharing it with the seniors could mean the field would get torn up which costs them time and money to fix so it is usable for the kids come game day or on practices. “The offer of $10,000 from the youth league to buy the stadium still stands”, Pullins told the council.

Mayor Gerlach explained they cannot just sell it to the league without knowing the legal process to do so. He said the council found out the lease with the Big Bend Youth League for the football stadium is not binding. While that is the case the council all agreed the league was important for the kids and the community and they did not intend to see them kicked out from being able to use the field. The mayor and council said they would find out from their attorney what they could do in this matter and the issue was tabled.

Barbara Williams came to the council asking her reconnect fee for her water bill be waved. She told the council her water bill, as well as the disconnect notice were sent to the wrong address and she did not get them. Mayor Gerlach explained to the council that Williams provided the wrong address to the water office and therefore the village was not at fault, but Williams was. Williams told to the council that she does not have any problems paying her bills but felt because it was billed to the wrong address the reconnect fee should still be waved. The mayor reiterated that it was not the fault of the village and said, “We cannot make a special exception for you and wave the fee.”

No action was taken on the matter of William’s water bill.
A council member said it was brought to their attention that a lot of people have been speeding on Hudson Street. It was proposed a ten mile per hour sign be posted on the street but because that would involve creating a new ordinance to change the speed limit on the street it was settled that a “slow, kids at play” sign would be put up first.

It was also brought up that the old village hall building should be put up for sale. The council unanimously voted to sell the building.

The council then went into executive session concerning a disciplinary issue.

The meeting was adjourned after the executive session.