Mt. Union residents, council argue over various items
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
MT. UNION — Even though the open meeting portion of the Mt. Union city council meeting started 15 minutes after the posted start time, very little time was wasted before a heated public forum ensued.
During the public forum, Linda Johnson questioned the council about falsified minutes, the cost of new signage, a city website and requested that there be a new city election due to some alleged misinformation at the polls.
“I am asking for a new election,” said Johnson. “Somebody screwed up. I could not vote the way I wanted to vote. I am asking for a re-election. I was told that I could only vote for two people, and two people were on the ballot. I did not get to vote for the three positions that were open on the council.”
Johnson also questioned the new hiring of a city maintenance person. Mayor John Marek clarified that the city was not hiring another person, but only clarifying the rules and expectations of the current position.
“It isn’t fair to employ someone and them not know the rules of their employment,” said Marek.
“For example, the city clerk is supposed to be at every meeting?” asked Johnson. “She’s not here.”
“That’s true,” replied Marek.
When Linda Johnson was done with her requests of the council, her brother, Dan Johnson, took his turn to address the council.
Dan Johnson questioned some language in an affidavit signed by council member Ben Johnson, referring to the city borrowing money. According to Dan Johnson’s recollection of council meetings, taking out a loan had never been an agenda item in public forum.
When Dan Johnson asked how the city had intended on paying back the loan and the dollar amount of the loan, Marek explained that it was a revolving fund loan in the amount of $25,000 — $16,000 of which the city has already used — and the payments had been deferred for one year.
“We would change the sales option tax, which is currently going to the park, which is an excess for the park, so that would be moved over to cover the expense,” said Marek.
“Oh, so you are going to be taking money that is used to beautify the city, to make playgrounds for our children, to make this a better place to live – you are going to use that money to pay to defend 15 people who are not paying their sewer bill, is that correct?” asked Dan Johnson.
“We are not defending any people,” said city attorney Barb Edmondson. “We are defending people’s tax revenues from having to use them for paying those bills.”
At the end of the public forum, new community member Wendy Mather onformed the council that she was planning a craft and vendor show to be held at the community center on Dec. 14, to bring money into the city and also raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. She noted that she would also like to start organizing potlucks and themed dinners for the community to come together once a month to do something other than argue.
“I’d like to see us do fund-raisers and dinners and things like that to be a community instead of a bunch of people that just fight with each other,” said Mather. “Let’s be a community. We can get together and do things and get to know each other better.”
Once the public forum ended, the council had the second reading of a proposed ordinance regarding sewer payment.
According to the ordinance, after receiving notice from RUSS of a delinquent account, the city shall mail a notice to the property owner that the bill must be paid within 30 days of the date on the letter. If the bill is not paid within 30 days, the city clerk will then certify the amount to the Henry County Treasurer for collection in the same manner as the general taxes.
The ordinance also states that “the city will further use all other legal means available to enforce collection of the delinquent sewer bills.”
After the second reading, the council unanimously approved to waive the third reading and adopt the ordinance.
“We have had a month to think it over, and I don’t see a problem with it,” said Ben Johnson.
The next Mt. Union city council meeting will be Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the community center.