HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights City Council approved a contract with the law firm Pickrel, Schaefer and Ebeling to provide law director services for 2018 – but not before Mayor Tom McMasters made a plea to look elsewhere for legal help.
Gerald McDonald of the firm has served as the city’s law director for the past year and the contract for 2018 includes the same rates as 2017. But McMasters said the firm had provided “biased advice detrimental to the city” and said he “recommended terminating the working relationship” with the firm.
McMasters cited legal advice offered to the city during a dispute between City Manager Rob Schommer and City Council Member Janell Smith, said the firm failed to protect the city from a reputation of graft and corruption during the selection creation of an energy aggregation program and gave bad advice concerning the Ohio Sunshine Law.
McMasters failed to convince council members that the law firm was at fault. They voted 7-1, with Smith voting no, to renew the firm’s contract.
Also on Monday night, council decided there will be no tacos on Old Troy Pike – at least, no tacos served from a food truck.
Council has been considering a request from R and A Corp. to locate its “El Manantial Latron” exotic Mexican food truck at the Marathon station at 7851 Old Troy Pike.
On Monday, Smith asked fellow council members to consider the aesthetics of the gateway area to the city when voting on the proposal. She said she thought the truck would look “out of place” at the location.
Councilman Tyler Starline disagreed, saying he thought the request was a proper one for the area.
When council voted, it turned out half sided with Smith and half with Starline. Ed Lyons, Richard Shaw and Mark Campbell voted no along with Smith. Judy Blankenship, Nancy Byrge and Glenn Otto voted with Starline. The 4-4 tie meant that Mayor Tom McMasters got to cast the tie-breaking vote, and he immediately voted no. The truck’s owners can re-apply to locate the truck at a different location.
Otto suggested the city work on regulations for food trucks and later in the meeting when Byrge addressed the issue, Schommer said the city staff is working on a proposal that should be ready by January.
Also Monday night, council:
- Passed the budget for 2018. Schommer said the city plans to continue its recent focus on improving the city’s parks. He also said the city will be looking into options to fund the request for additional firefighters at Station 25.
- Approved the purchase of a parcel of land for a sanitary line from Teresa Huber. Schommer said Huber suggested the $5,000 purchase price also include 6 ½ acres at the end of Rustic Woods Drive – in effect, Huber donated the larger parcel to the city for future use. Council members thanked Huber for the donation.
- Moved to second reading an agreement that would see Schommer retire and then be rehired as city manager. McMasters suggested the city conduct a search for a city manager. The proposal will be discussed at council’s next work session.
- Reappointed Frank Ambrose and Andrew Demland to the Property Maintenance
- Review Board to terms expiring Dec. 31, 2020.
- Reappointed Shelly Huntington to the Citizens Water and Sewer Advisory Board to a term expiring Jan. 1, 2021. There is one vacancy on the board and the city is seeking applicants.
- Reappointed Monica Rezek and Joan Smith to the Tax Review Board to terms expiring Dec. 31, 2019. There is a vacancy on this board and the city is seeking applicants.
- Approved a contract with the Miami County Public Defender Commission to provide legal representation for indigent persons in 2018.
- Awarded a contract not to exceed $95,000 to ISC Industries for storm sewer line renovation in 2018.
- Approved continuation of the operations and maintenance agreement for the city’s water services with Suez Water Environmental Services.
- Listened to Andi Otto of the city beautification committee explain the Lights in the Heights contest. Citizens can enter their Christmas lights display in the contest until Dec. 8. Otto also told council about plans for the city’s free Christmas concert to be held at Eichelberger Amphitheater Saturday from 5-7 p.m.
Council’s will meet in a workshop session on Dec. 5, 6 p.m. at city hall. The next council meeting will be held Dec. 11, 7 p.m. at city hall.
Reach Dave Lindeman at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.