Water, a hot topic at the Galleon Council

GALION — The Tuesday, March 8, meeting of Galion City Council contained tense remarks between Mayor Tom O’Leary and council member Paula Durbin. The exchange began with Durbin asking O’Leary about the city’s water contamination readings, specifically the report sent with utility bills last weekend, which indicated that TTHM levels were in rise. “I have received many calls and texts from concerned citizens… Do you know what is causing this, and do we know about it?” Durbin asked.

O’Leary replied, “We’re definitely working on it” with the EPA, continuing, “We’ll get the board to approve an engineer for improvements…to fix the underlying problem…probably next month.” He went on to explain that the readings just shared are three-month averages that include higher prior contaminant levels. Over time, O’Leary said, those readings will show declines occurring.

O’Leary chastised the website/group Galion City Watch for not printing the city’s responses to their complaints about the city’s handling of the water pollution problem and for publishing emails from the city. EPA before city officials received the emails. He asked that council members invite concerned citizens to contact his office for more information.

Durbin replied, “I don’t think you’ve been very transparent with council or citizens about water plant issues over the past few years.

O’Leary replied, “I think you’re entitled to that opinion, and if anyone else argues this, go ahead and carry on… The same mayor who is ‘so negligent’ got a million dollars for solve the problem. I just thought it was worth mentioning… So the suggestions [are false] that we are doing nothing and that we are putting people in danger.

He went on to say that there were no violations a year ago and that when the city became aware of the TTHM problem about six to eight months ago, they immediately started addressing it. attack.

The meeting also saw the rules suspended to pass several emergency ordinances and resolutions, with the rules suspended to make the readings of the legislation “final”. Order 2022-11 Central Hotel Purchase Agreement was one of them. The city’s chief legal officer, Thomas Palmer, told council the ordinance came out of an economic development meeting two weeks ago and allows the city to accept ownership of the Central Hotel.

Several Central Hotel residents were present at the meeting and inquired about the management company, which Mayor Tom O’Leary said would remain the same for the near future while the city weighs its management options.

Among the ordinances, 2022 Appropriations Amending Order 2022-12, which comes from the Finance Committee, allows the city to spend money on renovations to the Depot. O’Leary said the funds would allow the city to select an architect for the project.

Order 2022-19, which was added to the agenda, also titled Appropriation Amendment 2022, provides for the use of Department of Health funds for continued mosquito surveillance and control.

The only ordinance to receive its first reading at the meeting was ordinance 2022-18, setting the PCA (adjustment of electricity costs), which, according to Kara Ault, member of the Council and chair of the utility committee, came from of studies that recommended two different amounts of increase in Galion’s electricity rates. . “We went for the lowest,” Ault said, an increase of 0.34%, effective April 1, 2022. Residents of Hotel Central who attended expressed concern over the increase in their electricity bills. O’Leary said passing Ordinance 2022-11 will allow the city to try to address issues such as inefficient windows and reduce the high electric heating costs residents have experienced.

In Resolution 2022-3, Andee Wildenthaler was named to the Port Authority’s Board of Directors. Resolution 2022-4 appointed Ault to the CRA Housing Board. Both resolutions were rushed through “final readings” with a suspension of the rules.

The swearing in of Eric Webber as City Council President opened the meeting; Webber then chaired the meeting. Webber replaces Carl Watt, who had held the position for nearly a decade and stepped down in February. Webber expressed his enthusiasm and gratitude for the position, as well as his admiration and respect for his predecessor, Watt. Mayor Tom O’Leary also praised Watt for his help in the transition of city government after citizens voted to adopt the statutory form of government, ending the city’s governance charter.

Ault informed the council that the city’s new dog parks are already popular, despite not having officially opened. O’Leary thanked staff member Matt Echelberry for his work developing the project, which has so far seen the installation of chain-link fencing in Cobey Park and South Park. O’Leary noted that signage — particularly to let park visitors know they’re under video surveillance — as well as trash cans and possibly restrooms, will be added to parks in the future. O’Leary also thanked former council member Shirley Clark for her efforts to improve city parks over the years, especially the parks on the east side of Galion.

Council also heard a presentation from Nadine Thompson of the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP) on fair housing and discrimination law. Ohio law prohibits discrimination against many protected classes of citizens. Thompson said 40% of discrimination cases are dismissed for lack of evidence; she advised anyone who suspected they were being discriminated against to gather as much evidence as possible to back up their complaint. Additional information about Ohio’s fair housing laws and filing discrimination complaints is available at https://www.glcap.org/

Members of the Galion City Council listen to Mayor Thomas O’Leary’s speech during the March 8 city council meeting.

Residents worried about electricity rate hike in April

Jessica C. Bell