SALINEVILLE - Confusion about the leasing process for the village-owned Kaiser building caused tempers to flare at a special council meeting called to address the concerns of the prospective lessee.
Village council began accepting bids to rent out the first floor of the three-story, 5,980-square-foot building in September when Nikki Lewis, owner of Main Street Primitives, expressed an interest in relocating her business there. Lewis entered the sole bid for the building which was opened at the last council meeting.
Village Solicitor Andy Beech at that time contended that without the proposal form, which was included in the bid packet, council could not accept the bid. Later in that meeting, council called an executive session and returned with legislation to enter into a commercial lease with Lewis.
Lewis told council at a special meeting Monday night the advertisement which council placed in a local newspaper did not state that a bid packet was needed to enter a bid for the Kaiser building and council members never informed her of this either. Furthermore, once she aquired a bid packet she found that some of the terms of the lease were unclear. Not wanting to agree to terms that she did not fully understand and that could be detrimental to her business, Lewis asked council for clarification of certain passages in the bid packet.
Council declined to explain the terms of the lease to Lewis, opting instead to wait until Village Solicitor Andy Beech was present to do so.
"All of that can be clarified through the solicitor," said Mayor Mary Smith. "Every one of these questions will be taken to him."
Some council members questioned why leasing the building had become such a lengthy and seemingly complicated process. Inevitably talk drifted into to how council had leased property under previous administrations.
"I got a copy of that sheet (the advertisement for the Kaiser building) and there is no mention of a bid package." said councilman Tom Hays
"Now, Tom, you've been on council for how many years?" said Smith. "There's always a bid package when you lease land or when you lease property."
"This is the first time we've leased though," said councilman Jim Howdershelt. "We didn't do it, we asked Andy (Beech) to handle this for us."
"When we leased this building over here (Kaiser building), we drew up a package and said 'you're rent is $700, and..." said Hays.
"And that was done improperly," interrupted Smith
"The auditors said, 'You guys shouldn't have done it that way, next time follow the revised code,'" responded Hays. "They didn't say we had to, they said try to follow the revised to code."
"Yes, they weren't going to do anything to us," agreed councilman Wayne Lieshmen
"Whether they do anything or not, it's the revised code and most of you have been on for council for years - you knew better!" said Smith raising her voice.
"What I learned tonight, after 22 months, the council is finally in charge of the town," Hays fired back.
Council President Sally Keating interrupted the fracas asking council to return to the task at hand.
The delays in the leasing process and the multiple readings necessary to pass the legislation to lease the property come at a bad time for Lewis who says this is the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Council said they can approve the legislation by emergency reading next Monday at the earliest. However, council and Lewis agreed to seek the opinion of the village solicitor regarding certain aspects of the lease agreement before both parties agree to the lease. Council decided to table the legislation until the council meeting next Monday.