Sistersville Recorder Julie Schleier has resigned from her position.
The letter of resignation was accepted during a special meeting on Dec. 19 to handle several items of business before the year's end. Although accepting Schleier's resignation was not on the agenda, council unanimously approved the motion after Mayor Ann Doig read the resignation letter aloud.
The letter, provided to the Tyler Star News by Doig, reads as follows:
"Dear Mayor Doig:
Please accept this as my letter of resignation from the position of city recorder with the City of Sistersville. Due to the current environment I am unable to perform the duties of my office in such a manner that satisfies my personal standards and to attain the goals that I set out to do when I accepted this position. My last day will be January 3, 2014.
Sincerely, Julie Schleier"
After a discussion about changing the venue for council meetings, council unanimously voted to move the next meeting to the Sistersville Fire Hall.
"That was on the agenda because we had talked about a temporary ramp, a permanent ramp, or moving (meetings) to another place in Sistersville for those with disabilities," explained Councilman Mark Klages, citing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations as a factor.
Regarding the elevation of the front steps, Councilman Bill Rice questioned whether or not a temporary ramp could be effectively installed. In the event a ramp cannot be implemented, a mechanical lift was noted as a feasible possibility to comply with ADA regulations.
Councilman Bill Rice said another issue was the limited amount of space in City Hall.
"The people being packed in here is because of all the nonsense on Facebook and telling everybody 'you've got to go to the meetings,'" said Doig. "Half the people (attending meetings) don't even live in Sistersville. I know of a number of people, and anybody who does not live in town doesn't have a right to have a say in anything going on in this town."
"We can at least give them a chance to see what happens," said Councilman Phil Konopacky.
The next matter council voted on was the appropriation of levy funds.
"We have everything split up: Park, Library, Fire (Department) and Streets," said Klages. "25 percent across the board. The decision we're going to have to make is if we want to keep it that way. If there's money left over at the end of the year, what happens? Does it roll over to the same thing the following year?"
Doig said that Streets receive a decent amount of funds from water bill revenue, whereas Park and Pool draws funds from only the levy and coal severance tax.
"I don't want to take anything from the library or fire department, because they deserve their full share of it," she said of the levy funding. "But I don't think the street (fund) needs the full share."
It was noted that Park and Pool generally takes a loss while the amount designated for Streets is usually ahead. Klages stated that some people may have questions about the amount remaining for street repairs, and Mayor Doig clarified that Streets have sources of funding other than the levy. When Konopacky asked about the percentage they would transfer from the Streets portion of the levy to Park and Pool and if that would cover the anticipated loss, Mayor Doig suggested 10 percent and cited the newly formed Park and Pool Board.
"This year we are going to have a Park and Pool Board," said Mayor Doig. "I think things are going to be run much better than they have been."
"A lot more eyes watching," said Councilman Richard Long, referring to the newly formed board as 'go-getters.' "We vote them in next meeting."
He also noted that a 'lift chair' would need to be purchased for the pool.
After further discussing Park and Pool items, council unanimously approved the allocation of each year's levy funding as follows: 15 percent for Streets; 35 percent for Park and Pool; 25 percent for Library; and 25 percent for Fire Department. They also unanimously approved that any unspent levy funding will remain within its designated account from year to year.
In regard to personnel policy changes, Doig said that Police Chief Ben Placer had a good start working on the standard employee policy manual.
"You don't want to change each policy one by one," she said. "That would be a nightmare. We need a committee to work on the personnel book."
"I think I have about 29 policies in digital format," said Placer. "They're easily editable. I'm at a point where other people need to work on them to make decisions."
"Everyone here can have a copy of the book and work on it if they want," said Doig.
Placer said he could supply a digital copy to each council member.
Doig also addressed another personnel matter.
"When we have complaints, there is an official form to be filled out," she said. "They can seal it and they can address it to either the chief of police or the mayor, and nobody else will have access to it before we can see what's going on. A lot of people don't like to make complaints because they're afraid of retribution."
"I assume that once a complaint comes up, the personnel committee reviews it," said Klages. "Can we also say that the personnel committee will give everybody a chance to review everything before we have to make a decision on somebody's livelihood?"
"Definitely," said Doig. "Everybody should have a chance to review what went on before we make a decision."
Rice asked if other members of council were allowed to attend personnel committee meetings.
"If we have everybody go to every personnel meeting we have, only three are allowed to do any of the talking at the meeting," said Mayor Doig, explaining that the same rule applied to other committee meetings. "The other council members are allowed to be there, but they are not allowed to do any talking and be part of any decisions made at that time."
"But we can still come?" asked Rice.
"Yes," said Doig.
"And we'll be told about it?" he asked. "We'll know about the meetings?"
"I hope so," she said.
The question arose as to whether or not a majority presence of council members at a personnel committee meeting would constitute a quorum.
"We would establish who was a committee member at the time of the meeting and who was there to attend the meeting," said Klages, referring to a personnel committee meeting he attended on Sunday. "There was an issue as to whether or not we had a quorum during that meeting."
"If they're there to observe, that's fine," said Doig.
When Pritchett suggested that five councilmen gathering to discuss the current meeting actually constituted a meeting, Klages said that a quorum had not been established because they were not attempting to take action but rather discussing the logistics of a forthcoming meeting.
When further quorum issues were addressed, Klages said that he had a discussion with the Ethics Commission about the matters.
"I called them to find out if we had a quorum on Sunday," he said. "They're going to get back to me with their official report as to whether or not I was personally in violation of the quorum rules. They said it depends on what you're talking about. If you're talking about logistics issues and administrative issues of what happened last meeting, it doesn't matter if you have 100 percent of council there."
"If they're logistics issues, I'm a member of council and I'd like to be invited to these meetings," said Pritchett.
Klages agreed that he should be notified of committee meetings. He also suggested posting official meeting notices on the city's Facebook page.
When it came to a possible action to reimburse city employees for unused vacation time, council decided to further explore the issue and took no action.
Council entered into executive session to discuss an item titled Department Head Telecommuting. Upon reentering the regular meeting, they unanimously approved to pay City Commissioner Daniel Grimes salary while he temporarily works from home.