Conflict? Council members disagree
A proposed fire levy appears to be doomed.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- City council, which has been divided over the Quaker Community Fire District, split over whether there is conflict in city hall.
During Tuesday's council meeting, Councilwoman Mary Lou Popa asked new Councilman Justin Palmer about a newspaper quote attributed to him.
"What is the conflict in city hall?" Popa asked.
Palmer and three other candidates who oppose the fire district overwhelmingly defeated three councilmen and the president of council last November.
Palmer said the article was a summation of his remarks when he spoke to a service organization.
Popa is one of the four remaining councilmen who apparently continue to support the fire district.
Palmer replied, "You can't deny there is tension within this council."
Popa said, "There is no friction as far as I'm concerned. I wasn't aware of any friction in city hall."
One of the other four council members, Steve Andres also said he didn't understand the idea of conflict in city hall.
The previous council said it had voted to create the fire district to reduce costs. City and township fire department members would have to apply for jobs at the new district. A judge has temporarily blocked the district from becoming operational. The State Employment Relations Board is also considering whether the city committed an unfair labor practice because it created the district when the city had a multiyear contract with the fire department.
Minutes before the exchange between Popa and Palmer, council voted to ask the Columbiana County Auditor's Office to certify the millage needed to raise $1.5 million a year for five years for the city fire department. The vote was 4 to 3 with the three new councilmen voting no. New council President Tod Mumpire does not regularly vote.
Still earlier in the meeting, new Councilman Earl A. Schory II questioned whether the four senior council members constituted enough votes to put the levy on the ballot. The four members had said previously that if the levy was approved, it would free money for use by other city departments.
Palmer pointed out a section of Ohio law that said more than four votes are needed to put the fire levy before voters. Law Director Brooke Zellers agreed.