Village sweeper saga continues

SALINEVILLE – The decision to sell a village owned street sweeper was made at the March 6 meeting of the Salineville village in a vote that split the council 3 to 3, with Mayor Mary Smith breaking the tie by voting yes.

A search through previous council meeting minutes revealed that the street sweeper has long been the subject of debate and controversy dating back to prior village adminsitrations

Minutes recorded at a Jan. 23, 2012, village council meeting detail how the street sweeper came to be in the village’s possession. Mayor Mary Smith first became aware of the street sweeper at this meeting when questioning then village Fiscal Officer Dave Slagle about changes to the village’s insurance policy.

Three pieces of village owned equipment were being taken off the policy and one new piece of equipment was being added. The three pieces of equipment being removed from the insurance policy were a truck, a grader and a Case loader, and the piece of equipment being added was a street sweeper.

When the Mayor asked why these changes were being made to the policy, Slagle informed her that the village had traded the three pieces of equipment for the street sweeper.

The sale or trade of village equipment typically must come before council so the mayor inquired as to who had approved the sale.

It is unclear who oversaw and arranged the trade, however, the Jan. 23 minutes indicate councilmen Jim Howdershelt and Tom Hays admitted to signing over the titles along with former Mayor Dave Berta. The decision to make the trade was never brought before council.

At this same meeting, Howdershelt accused former village administrator Jeff Lewis of making the trade, however it was determined that this was not true because Lewis was no longer working with the village at that time Howdershelt alleged he made the trade. According to the minutes, councilman Rick Beadle stated that he had no knowledge of the trade.

Later in 2012 at an Aug. 6 council meeting, the street sweeper was again the topic of debate. According to the minutes from this meeting, Rick Beadle stated that three councilmen that brought the street sweeper into the village are still on council and they “deserve the respect” to try to get the sweeper running again.

It was also at this meeting that Street Commissioner Ralph Ross advised that he did not want the sweeper and felt it was not in good condition.

Hays, who was involved in the trade for the street sweeper, advised at this meeting that he was present when the sweeper was started up and that it had recently been upgraded with new brushes. Hays has previously stated that he does not understand council and the mayor’s desire to sell the street sweeper, and contends that it would be an asset to Street Commisioner Ross who has had to sweep the village streets manually in the past.

The minutes from this meeting also speak to the mishandled aspects of the trade: “Rick advised that all this behind the scenes stuff took place after council and former mayor got rid the City Administrator and gave Berta his power back in 2010.”

As of January, council began drafting legislation to sell the street sweeper.

Ordinance 002-2013 authorizing the sale of the street sweeper was introduced at the beginning of the year and each time it was voted upon resulted in a tie vote, and each time Mayor Smith has broken the tie voting yes to sell the sweeper.

The street sweeper will be put up to for bid now that council has voted to sell it.

Howedershelt has previously contended that the village will not get as much money as the sweeper is worth by bidding it out.