One day before the Crawford County Board of Elections is set to certify all candidates and issues for November’s general election, Galion City Law Director Thomas Palmer filed a protest against the Initiative Measure on Electric Fund Audit and Rebates filed by the Citizens for Galion group on July 6.
Palmer said the proposed ordinance may not be submitted to voters under the general initiative provisions in state law due to the special provisions set forth in sections four and five of the Ohio Constitution that governs municipal operation of public utilities.
The proposed ordinance would require the city to have an audit completed on the electric fund from 2005 to 2012 to determine if citizens were overcharged on their electric bills and any monies due to them be refunded.
Roberta Wade of the Citizens for Galion group spoke out against a proposed ordinance on the agenda during the regular meeting of Galion City Council Tuesday evening that entails the hiring of Columbus attorney to represent the city against the ballot issue.
“It is unethical for council to pass an ordinance that will require the tax payers of Galion to pay for an attorney to fight against their own ballot initiative,” Wade said.
Wade said council is there to represent the citizens, not the mayor and other city officials.
Palmer also said that is the first known initiative of its kind filed in Ohio against a city that is in fiscal emergency and that if the proposed ordinance is passed, it would constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative authority.
Palmer has asked the Crawford County Board of Elections for a hearing in the near future and since the issue is time sensitive, council member Michael Richart proposed for the ordinance to hire attorney Donald McTigue be declared an emergency, which was approved by the other members of council.
Council voted unanimously to hire McTigue.
A public hearing was held during the meeting for a proposed ordinance to allow eating and retail establishments to have an outside trade area.
“The current ordinance only allows this to happen as a conditional use and the planning commission is proposing a change to allow the outdoor retail space to be a permitted use,” Palmer said.
Palmer said the commission has developed guidelines which include allowing four feet from the outdoor retail or eating space to the curb for people to pass by on the sidewalk and to allow handicap accessibility.
Dale Hartle of the Ohio Regional Development Corporation informed council about the rules governing fair housing.
Hartle said the city has been awarded a grant through his office to demolish four properties within the city which also includes asbestos removal, ground-clearing and seeding of the properties after the demolition is complete.
The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the city’s municipal building.
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