LIMA — “By simple motion.”
The three words were the only phrase added to an ordinance brought forward by Lima City Council establishing council’s authority to determine residency requirements for its members.
While the majority of council’s ordinances pass without so much as a pause, this ordinance got kicked to the Council of the Whole for discussion. Councilor Sam McLean, who requested the discussion, said he wanted to determine a process for determining residency requirements.
“Let’s say an outside entity came to us and said: ‘Hey, Jon Neeper doesn’t live in the 7th ward.’ Do we bring it to council or do we bring it to the law director?” McLean said at the top of the meeting.
After some minor discussion, Law Director Tony Geiger gave his opinion on the matter: “I would like to see some formal motion by council. … The law director should only get involved after council passes a motion.”
Residency requirements have been brought up twice by council in the past. The first concerned former councilor and local businessman Ray Magnus. In 2009, Council President John Nixon asked Geiger to look into Magnus’s residency requirements, and Geiger concluded he could not disprove that Magnus lived in the ward he represented.
A similar event happened in 2018. This time, Magnus brought forward alleged evidence he had gathered over three weeks after following Councilor Jamie Dixon, who married this past August and spends a portion of his time at his wife’s residence outside the 5th ward. Again, Geiger examined the evidence brought forward by Magnus as well as legal documents presented by Dixon. He concluded: “Dixon has properly established his residency within the 5th Ward as a matter of election law.”
Magnus, who is also McLean’s business partner in running 318 Restaurant & Bar, was in attendance during the discussion. When Magnus first presented his evidence in December, McLean said he did not know of Magnus’ actions.
Either way, adding “By simple motion” seemed to be enough. If officially passed by City Council, the change would effectively reduce the number of council members that would be needed to pass a motion starting any future investigations from six to five council members.
Councilor Jamie Dixon made the motion to adjourn the meeting.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.