The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 21, 2012

July 21, 2012 Letters to the editor: Ken Fertig

Purchasing a building

Letters to the editor

— I would like to inform Jefferson Village citizens that come November they will have the opportunity to vote for or against the purchase of vacant building located at Jefferson and Market streets, (old Jefferson Elementary cafeteria). If passed the village will purchase and renovate said building to house Jefferson Police Department, the purchase cost of $150,000 in cash and $150,000 in kind work, utilizing village employees for school ground duties. An additional cost of $25,000 to $50,000 maybe more would be needed for renovation to meet Police Department needs.

This opportunity was brought together by a referendum petition presented to council by a group of concerned citizens. They feel village citizens should have a say as to how their tax dollars are spent and if this purchase is really in the best interest of the community.

After long delays and court hearings, Judge Alfred Mackey ruled to place the referendum on the November ballot. Additionally the court ruled that a temporary restraining order and an injunction be issued against Jefferson Village Council forbidding any further activity on said property.

With this being said, on June 22, 2012, citizens noted that several village employees, including Jefferson law enforcement were working within the property performing various janitorial services. Remember, the property is owned by Jefferson School Board.

My question is very simple. How is it that after being issued a court order restraining any activity on said property we witnessed village employees performing village duties on said property, when it is clearly still owned by the school board? Now, the question, were these employees on village salaries or the kindness of their hearts? If they were paid by the village this clearly would be misappropriation of village funds and should be addressed.

A letter has been issued to Jefferson Village solicitor Jerry Lemire advising council that any such action in the future may result in additional litigation.

In closing, as a former elected official and village resident, I hope my fellow citizens think real hard come November when deciding to utilize the village funds in purchasing this facility. When so many communities are strapped for funds, would this purchase really be in the best interest of the citizens or just a handful of bureaucrats? Let the people decide how their money is spent.

Ken Fertig