HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights City Council Monday night approved a resolution that would make Energy Alliance the city’s consultant for a citywide energy program. But Mayor Tom McMasters isn’t happy with the process and has promised to pull the plug with a veto.
The opt-out energy program would allow city residents to pool together to save on energy costs. While all council members are in favor of the idea, some council members along with McMasters wanted more study of the program before entering into an agreement with Energy Alliance.
The discussion started after Councilman Ed Lyons called for second and third reading of the resolution to be waived and for the resolution to be approved.
Councilman Tyler Starline amped up the debate with criticism of the selection process.
“I am concerned about how this process has gone for the last probably a month now in terms of communication, inquiries by some, responses by others,” he said. “The whole process seems off to me.
“I don’t think we should be accepting any of these bids because of how the process has tarnished the bidding process. “
Starline called for council to reject all bids submitted by the four potential consultants and start over.
“I’ll tell you right now,” he said, “I hope I’m wrong, but I expect whoever gets picked, if the rest of this council picks someone, I expect three others to sue us.”
Council Members Judy Blankenship and Nancy Byrge disagreed, calling for council to back the recommendation of city staff that Energy Alliance be given the contract.
McMasters countered by saying he felt the city needed more time and more facts about the consultants and potential savings.
Lyons and Councilmember Mark Campbell both said they were comfortable with the city staff recommendations and would support the legislation.
Council voted 6-2 to waive the second and third readings, with Starline and Glenn Otto voting no. Council then voted 5-3, with Starline, Otto and Richard Shaw voting no.
But McMasters got in the last word by promising to veto the measure. He has 10 days to issue his veto. Council can then try to override his veto, which would take six votes, or start again on the selection process for a consultant for the program.
The energy program wasn’t the only issue that caused friction Monday night.
Council members once again went head-to-head on a resolution that would amend the city’s legal contract with the law firm Pickrel, Schaeffer and Eberling. The changes are designed to bring the contract in line with changes in the way council has operated since the beginning of the year.
Starline again led the opposition, saying Law Director Allen Schaeffer has left an important question unanswered and that he could not support amending or approving the contract.
Council Member Janell Smith explained how in past years council held committee meetings, but beginning this year council started meeting in a work session as a committee of the whole, resulting in what she called “marathon meetings.” She said the contract is in conflict with the current rules of council, and council has to either amend the contract or return to the committee system.
Council held a brief executive session to discuss the law director, then returned to take a vote on waiving the third reading of the resolution, which passed with only Shaw voting no.
But when vote for approval was held, Starling, Otto and Shaw voted against it. Since Lyons recused himself from the debate and the vote, that made it a 4-3 vote. The resolution needed five votes to pass, so the effort to amend the contract failed.
The city’s current contract with the law firm runs through December.
Reach Dave Lindeman at 937-684-8983 or on twitter @HH_Courier.