LIMA — “It is time that we roll the credits on this political theater.”
That was just one sentence in Mayor David Berger’s three-page response to news that Allen Economic Development Group President/CEO Jeff Sprague and Allen County officials will be pursuing a third-party survey using an outside consultant to prove that the city’s building department is holding back economic development efforts.
“The future of our city depends on our leadership,” the release reads. “I will no longer engage in these emotionally charged conversations about the Lima/Allen County Building Department and will instead continue to focus on the real lives of real people. We will cease spending staff time on mollification of the prejudices of Mr. Noonan and Mr. Sprague. Doing so impedes economic development and progress for the entire region.”
Disagreements over the City of Lima’s building department began after Sprague, Allen County Commissioners Jay Begg and Cory Noonan and Shawnee Township Trustee Chris Seddelmeyer cited frustrations with the city’s inspection services during a visit to Miami County’s Building Department.
Soon after, Sprague, Begg and Noonan met with Director of Public Works Howard Elstro and Chief Building Official Amy Harpster to discuss possible solutions to those frustrations. Both parties left the meeting agreeing that the building department was “perceived” to hold up development and construction, but both also intended to conduct surveys that would reveal the truth behind the perception.
The city released the results of its two-week survey Thursday. It gave favorable remarks to the department’s performance. Sprague and the commissioners have yet to conduct their survey, but Sprague said they would use a third-party group.
Berger’s recent statement pokes at the political ramifications of the dispute. Republicans hold the totality of county seats. Berger and his administration are Democrats.
“I want to ensure the taxpayers of Lima that, unlike Commissioner Noonan, I am unwilling to throw away taxpayer money in an attempt to continue to sow discontent between governmental entities. And I will say to the critics and the dissenting voices — The election is over. The community has spoken. Let’s move on.”
A response to Berger’s statement was released late Friday.
“We are extremely disappointed that Mayor David Berger would call for partnership and collaboration while releasing a statement on a Friday afternoon without any attempt in contacting the County Commissioners or the Allen Economic Development Group. The fabricated points outlined in the press release deserve a fact-based thorough response, which will be forthcoming. All the citizens of Lima/Allen County deserve the facts.”
The statement is signed by Sprague, Begg, Noonan, Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary and Allen County Treasurer Rachael Gilroy.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.