Promotions within Police Department Highlight Village Council Meeting

by Ron Geiser   In one of the shortest meetings in the past few years, Bluffton Village Council approved four ordinances and two resolutions at its final 2016 meeting Monday night at Town Hall. Promotions and a new hire in the police department also were enacted.
   Of note was the return of Councilman Sean Burrell after an extended bed stay following surgery. He had listened in on two meetings by way of phone, but had not participated in voting.
   All the new laws were passed under emergency rules, meaning they will become effective at the start of 2017.
   The annual appropriations for the next fiscal year was given third and final reading. As explained by Fiscal Officer Nancy Kindle at an earlier meeting, there is nothing out of the ordinary about the next budget.
   She noted, however, that monies from the general fund which previously had been used to support the water fund now can be used to finance other projects, such as capital improvements, equipment, etc.
   Second reading was given an ordinance repealing Ordinance 20-13 effective Jan. 1, 2014. Council had indicated at the Dec. 5 meeting that the previous ordinance “does not meet the needs and expectations of the village regarding supplemental terms and conditions of the employment of village officials and employees.”
   Of primary concern are wage ranges and other terms and conditions, according to Mayor Judy Augsburger. Councilman Joe Sehlhorst voted against the measure.
   First reading was given an ordinance establishing an amended rank structure for the police department. Ranks are now chief of police, police lieutenant, police sergeant, police corporal and police officer. The first three are supervisory and salaried positions.
   First reading was given an ordinance authorizing the mayor to execute agreements and to give consent to the director of the Ohio Department of Transportation to complete projects within the village. Projects include bridge work at State Route 103 and I-75 and the structure over Norfolk Southern RR along State Route 103.
   Solicitor F. Stephen Chamberlain will be rehired as village solicitor for a period of two years according to second reading of a resolution passed by council. Effective Jan. 1, 2017, the attorney at law will be paid a retainer of $1,450 per month.
   A second resolution made transfers of $3,500 to eliminate deficits in the general fund.
   Police department promotions announced were Tyler Hochstetler from patrolman to sergeant and Matt Oglesbee from sergeant to lieutenant, while Eric Rayle was hired as full-time police officer.
   Council approved the hiring of Kyle Swank as a member of the fire department per a request from Chief Jon Kinn. Kinn also announced that the fire department would begin taking down Christmas decorations in the downtown area Jan. 7.
   Administrator Jamie Mehaffie announced that Republic Services will provide a website address permitting residents to access the holiday collection schedule for 2017 that will be updated annually. He said the company hopes that this will cut down on calls to it and village offices regarding garbage/recycling pickup. The address will be on the next utility bills. The link is
   Mehaffie noted that some meters were not read due to last weekend’s snow, resulting in about 10 percent of the bills being estimates.
   Mehaffie’s report included a request for a meeting of the Streets, Alleys, Lights and Sidewalks Committee to review recommendations presented by ODOT concerning the College Ave./Main St. intersection. Councilman Sehlhorst later slated such a meeting for 6 p.m., Jan. 3, third floor, Town Hall.
   Mehaffie stated that he anticipated that a combination of the recommendations from last week’s meeting might be instituted. Sehlhorst said he anticipated further public input at the next meeting, resulting in the need for the larger meeting room.
   Council adjourned about 8:30 p.m. to discuss personnel matters.
   The next council meeting is 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9. It was announced that next year council will meet on the second and fourth Mondays each month.