Questions surround purpose of meetings

WELLSVILLE – Details remain few regarding the reason behind disciplinary measures being considered by Wellsville Village Council against village fiscal officer Dale Davis. Questions about meetings related to the issue, however, have revealed inconsistencies.

Davis was the subject of an executive session regarding discipline of village personnel during a Jan. 3 council meeting. Another executive session for disciplinary purposes was called during a regular council meeting held Tuesday evening. No action was taken after either closed-door session, and both meetings adjourned quickly afterwards.

Village council also met in an apparent emergency session at noon on Jan. 2. The Review was not present at the meeting because it was called without first alerting the media, which is a violation of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws.

Village Mayor Susan Haugh has stated that the meeting was called because of village checks that had to be written in the absence of Davis, who was absent from work that day at Haugh’s request. As fiscal officer, it is Davis’ name that appears on the village banking accounts and who is authorized to draft checks from the accounts.

Haugh has previously cited a payment for transmission service on a village truck as one of the checks that had to be written on Jan. 2 while Davis was out of the office. The Review made a public records request for a copy of that check, which was drafted in the amount of $500 to the order of Bill’s Service toward the replacement of a transmission in a 2000 Ford dump truck.

It was dated Dec. 31, two days before the “emergency” meeting and had been signed by Davis.

Whatever the reason, in order for a check to be written in Davis’ absence, the names of other Wellsville officials would need to be added to the village banking accounts. Haugh has subsequently refused to comment as to whether the purpose of the Jan. 2 meeting was to add her own name and that of assistant fiscal officer Cassie Bloor to the village bank accounts. “It will be approved or not approved at the next council meeting, I don’t know,” Haugh said.

However, The Review was able to review a copy of the minutes of the Jan. 2 meeting. No executive session appears in the minutes, denoting that its contents are public record. It shows that a motion adding Bloor’s and Haugh’s names to the village banking accounts was, in fact, adopted by council members Don Brown, Tony Cataldo, Rosie Goss and Tonda Ross, with council members Diane Dinch and John Morrow absent and excused.

The minutes also state that adding the names to the village bank accounts was done at the recommendation of State Auditor David Yost. The auditor’s office issued the results of a financial audit of the village for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 in March of last year.

The report outlines numerous noncompliance citations and material weaknesses, as well as a $2,345 finding for recovery. Nowhere in the document, however, does it recommend that additional names be added to the village banking accounts.

Davis remains in his position as fiscal officer at Wellsville, with no disciplinary action undertaken against him currently. Haugh, village solicitor Andy Beech and Davis have all declined to provide details on the nature of the complaint against Davis.

The next meeting of village council is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, in council chambers.