(Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
(Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT -- Members of Van Wert City Council were not sure if they would get any business done at all Monday night. When only three 
councilors were present at 6:30 for the beginning of the first committee meeting, the fear was that a quorum might not convene. When Brent Crone joined Jon Tomlinson, Steve Trittschuh, and Stan Agler a few minutes later, a quorum had been reached and business could begin. However the group's authority was limited with just four of the seven council members on hand. Two pieces of legislation which were to be fast-tracked had to stay on the slow course. 

One piece of legislation dealt with an agreement between the city and the firefighters union. Terms of a three-year deal have been reached, and the council members passed the legislation on the first reading, but a final approval could not be passed due to the low attendance. Councilmen John Marshall and Jerry Mazur were each under the weather and Joi Mergy was dealing with a family situation so the next action on the deal will likely come during the next scheduled council meeting on Feb. 10.

Council was briefed on the deal in executive session. The three-year contract calls for raises of 1.5 percent in years one and two and a 1.0 percent raise in the third year.

The other matter was legislation to authorize a bond issue of $1.5 million to be purchased as an investment by the city. The bonds will finance the acquisition and remodeling of the former bank building at the corner of Main and Washington streets for use by the Van Wert Municipal Court. 

City Auditor Martha Balyeat reported that the funds to purchase the bonds became available from certificates of deposit which earned only 0.26 percent interest. The investment in the bonds comes at a 4.5 percent interest rate. According to Balyeat, the deal will bring more than $50,000 into the city's general fund in 2014 alone. The payback will be nearly $800,000 over the next 20 years.

In a committee meeting, council members received an update from Adam Reis, program manager for Main Street Van Wert. That organization is asking for financial support from the city. That decision will be made when council passes permanent appropriations in February or March.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming announced that the city has run through 370 tons of its 420 ton-supply of road salt this winter. The city has used more than twice what was used in each of the last two winters, and Fleming noted he is having a tough time obtaining more salt for the year due to short supplies. He stated that the city crews will be using salt only at intersections for the next two weeks and warned residents to be especially careful while driving in the city.

Fleming also pointed out that residents who will be affected by the second phase of the W. Main St. project in 2015 have been notified and that any questions from anyone about the project should go to the safety-service office.

Spraying for the gypsy moth will take place in a portion of Van Wert in June. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be holding an informational meeting about the spraying on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.