HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights City Law Director Alan Schaeffer was honored by council for 13 years of service at Monday’s meeting. Schaeffer is retiring from the law director’s job at the end of December and council members took time to thank him for his efforts.
But Schaeffer’s last meeting also included one last run-in with Mayor Tom McMasters.
Council approved a resolution to advertise for a new law director and was getting ready to pass another resolution that would amend the city’s existing agreement with Pickrel, Schaeffer and Ebeling through February while it decides on a legal representative. Other members of Schaeffer’s law firm would handle the city’s legal affairs until a new firm is hired.
But McMasters cited language in the resolution that said the mayor is authorized on behalf of the city to enter into a contract for legal services with Pickrel, Schaeffer and Ebeling.
“Authorized by definition gives permission to,” McMasters said. “If it’s just a matter of giving permission to, then we’ll probably have an issue because I have no desire to.”
Instead, McMasters requested that the wording be changed to “requested by council.”
“I will honor a request by council,” he said, “but if I get the option to authorize I probably won’t do it.”
This set off a discussion about how council could get around what Vice Mayor Tyler Starline called a “conscientious objection” by McMasters.
“Why can’t you support us when we voted for something unanimously?” Council Member Judy Blankenship asked. “It would be nice for the mayor to be a cheerleader for our city. We shouldn’t have to quibble about that.”
McMasters failed to be moved. Finally, Council Member Glenn Otto said, “I would be glad to make a motion to add those couple little words in there then we can just move along and get some business done.”
So that’s what happened. McMasters promised to follow through, Schaeffer can retire as city law director and his firm will temporarily continue to provide legal advice to the city through February. Schaeffer assured council members he would be available for consultation in the coming months but would not be in attendance at council meetings.
Resolving the city’s legal representation was just one of many issues taken up by council Monday night.
Included in the evening’s work was approval of contracts with unions representing lieutenants and sergeants in the police force, public works maintenance technicians and mechanics, and firefighters. This puts all city union workers under contract through 2019. The contracts call for raises of 2 percent in 2017, 2 ½ percent in 2018 and 2 ¾ percent in 2019.
- Approved an ordinance raising the speed limit to 35 mph from 25 mph on Carriage Trails Parkway.
- Approved a resolution declaring the city’s intent to create a premier Little League baseball field and develop a recreation master plan. Originally, this was presented as making Field One at Cloud Park the location for the upgraded baseball field, but Council Member Nancy Byrge introduced changes that called for the upgrade after the recreation master plan is developed without specifying a location for the field until the plan is completed. Richard Shaw was the only council member to vote no.
- Appointed Scott Darnell to the Citizens Water and Sewer Advisory Board.
- Appointed Andi Otto and Jennifer Bierley to the Arts and Beautification Commission. There are still three openings on the commission.
- Approved a health reimbursement plan for city employees and approved FlexBank Inc. as plan administrator.
- Approved a resolution authorizing the sale of real estate at the music center for construction of a hotel.
- Approved an agreement with Columbia Building Co. for renovation work and relocation for the city tax department at the Huber Center.
- Approved purchase of a new police cruiser to replace a cruiser damaged in a recent accident.
- Heard the mayor recommend approval of an application for The Shoppes at the Heights Community Entertainment District located in the Executive Drive area and bordering Brandt Pike. JJ Cafaro Investment Trust and 201 Corridor Management are involved in what is expected to be a $50 million investment in the area. The mayor’s recommendation is the first step in the process which eventually will have to be approved by council.
- City Manager Rob Schommer informed council that trash collection days will change beginning Jan. 9. Collection days will be Tuesday and Wednesday citywide. More detailed information will be provided this month by Republic Services, which handles trash collection and recycling for the city.
- Shaw announced there will be a Ward 1 community meeting 10 a.m. Saturday at the Submarine House. Also, the city charter review commission will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. at city hall.
Monday’s meeting was council’s final scheduled meeting of 2016. Council’s next meeting will be Jan. 9, 7 p.m., at city hall.
Reach David Lindeman at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @ HH_Courier.