Mary Alice Reporting –
A legal dispute between Uhrichsville and Dennison was brought up during a Thursday council meeting and council voted with a tie.
The disagreement relates to the Claymont High School income tax payment agreement to the Village, which was approved in 1998. The payments stopped following Mayor Mark Haney receiving legal advice from Ice Miller LLP that the agreement was not valid. Haney has said, on multiple occasions, that the city wants to negotiate and that Dennison was the one to file the lawsuit.
At Thursday’s Uhrichsville meeting, Councilman James Zucal brought up the topic again, noting it is a waste of money to go through proceedings as the city has spent over $51,000 in legal fees, with Zucal stating they owe the village just over $53,000 from missed payment years from 2021 up to September 22, 2023, and as legal fees continue, it could cost the city around $100,000.
“What we’re battling right now, the mayor’s paying fees to keep him out of court so he doesn’t have to go on stand and telling the truth. He should be a man and own up to this and stop the nonsense. Since he won’t do it, I’m going to put a motion on the floor tonight to go back to the agreement for mediation.”
The vote was three to three, with affirmatives coming from Zucal, Matt Fox, and Amy Myers, and council president Robert Cottrell broke the tie with a yes vote. Councilman Terry Engstrom was not present.
Those not in favor of stopping court proceedings Michael Huff, Bill Goshorn, and Wendy Mann, who noted her opinion.
“I think this is ridiculous. I kind of seen this coming. We were just waiting for one of our councilmembers to be absentee just so we could have this happen, so that is what I have to say and I hope this back fires in all three of your faces, and I am not going to be held responsible for that.”
Law Director Doug O’Meara was hesitant that this was legal with Cottrell giving a vote and said he would look into the matter.
“Believe I’m going to find you have absolutely no voting authority what so ever under the Revised [Code]. Haven’t finished looking at it yet. You are the manager of this meeting. You don’t have any vote, you’re the president of council. Council members vote by a majority.”
Zucal also motioned for the city to stop all payments to the Columbus legal firm, which also ended in the same tie vote, with Cottrell breaking it with an affirmative. O’Meara again expressed his concern that this was not legally binding to have the president of council vote on issues. Several members said that the president has broken a split council vote in the past.
Upon learning of the vote, the Village of Dennison released a statement noting that they are willing to accept the May 5th mediation agreement outline to bring this issue to a close.
A bench trial date related to this matter is scheduled for November.
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