LIMA — During Lima City Council’s first meeting of 2019, council pushed to fix some of the loose threads of 2018’s public controversies.
This past December, local business owner Ray Magnus presented to council alleged photo evidence challenging Councilor Jamie Dixon’s residency requirements after tailing Dixon for three weeks. After examining the evidence alongside official documents presented by Dixon, Lima Law Director Tony Geiger released a legal analysis confirming Dixon’s residency in the ward he represents.
But as Councilor Sam McLean explained, there’s still a lack of process to address these issues if they should arise in the future. For that reason, McLean pushed an ordinance, which establishes “criteria for the determination of the residency of council members,” to be considered by the council of the whole.
“I think (the process) needs to be better explained,” McLean said. “If we have questions, we should be able to ask them. How do we approach that? Do we send them to the law director? And how long does he have before we expect an answer?”
Magnus, who initially questioned Dixon’s residency, is the business partner of McLean. When the story initially broke this past year, McLean said he had no knowledge of Magnus’ movements.
The ordinance to be considered sets the time periods necessary for residency requirements, refers to sections of the Ohio Revised Code to be applicable to the city and cements that “council retains the authority under the charter to be the ultimate judge of the election and qualifications of its members.”
No date has been set for the council of the whole meeting as of yet, but Council President John Nixon directed the council clerk to schedule the discussion prior to council’s Jan. 28 meeting.
Lima City Council also heard reports from Chief Building Official Amy Harpster outlining the Lima Building Department’s work in 2018, as well as a public comment from resident David Smith asking for better communication between Allen County and the City of Lima.
Lima’s building department has been at the center of a public tiff between the two local governmental entities throughout 2018.
Harpster presented a similar report to Allen County Commissioners this past Thursday. At that time, commissioners restated they are exploring the contract they hold with the city’s building department to conduct commercial permitting throughout the county, and no decisions have officially been made whether the county will continue to work with the city or establish a “Allen County Building Department” — a satellite office initially organized by Miami County.
Proponents of the Miami County option have expressed concerns that Lima’s building department is holding back economic development efforts. If the option is moved forward, the city would lose $500,000 in revenue gained from permitting fees.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.