WAYNESFIELD — A Waynesfield councilor held off making a motion to abolish the village administrator position after discussing the matter in detail at its council meeting Monday.
In front of a standing room-only crowd that turned out for the meeting, councilor Bill Motter suggested the issue be made a ballot issue to allow residents to vote.
“I was going to make a motion to go back to a board,” Motter said. “However, after the discussion tonight, I think it needs to go on the ballot. That is the best way to do it.”
During his November 2011 election campaign, Motter made it no secret of his plans to look into returning to a board of public affairs.Councilor Dick Hardin, who was elected this past November, also has spoken on a wish to return to the board.
Councilor Rich Libby has expressed a wish to keep village administrator Fred Rowe. Libby also owns IPS West LLC in the village, the second-largest employer in the village to the school district. Libby expressed his dislike of returning to a board of public affairs at the previous meeting, saying it was more efficient with a village administrator. He said he ran into fewer problems as a businessman with Rowe in the position.
Motter said three good people in town on a board of public affairs was the better way for the village go, and he said it would save the village money. Hardin added he felt it was the way the majority of people in town wanted to go.
Hardin said many people were afraid to speak up about returning to the board because they were afraid of repercussions.
Several residents spoke on record at the meeting, all saying they wanted to stay with a village administrator.
“You want to take this village backwards,” resident Barb Earle said. “If you go back to a board of public affairs, you are talking part-time people. I think it is much more efficient with a village administrator. It is much more efficient.”
Resident Don Nutter said he felt Rowe was efficient because he wasn’t from the community and had no axe to grind with anyone.
“I think you need to let Fred do his job,” Nutter said. “Fred has gotten more money in this town and has justified his salary. I think you have to consider what kind of a background people have.”
Resident Linda Engle added it made more financial sense to have an administrator. She said the village needed an administrator.
“It was always hard trying to find someone from the board of public affairs,” she said. “This way, you have one person to go to.”
Village Solicitor Bob Fitzgerald told the council that a referendum would have to be proposed 91 days ahead of the election, so the issue couldn’t get on the ballot until November.
Some residents argued more work got done with an administrator. Motter countered that several big projects were completed with a board of affairs.
“The water tower project and the South Westminster Street projects were all brought here under a board of public affairs,” Motter said. “I think if you get the right three people, it is much more efficient.”