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Frustrations continue in Belle Center

Residents, members respond

BC-council

Belle Center Mayor Rhonda Fulmer, center, solicitor Steve Fansler, left, and council members Dee McIntosh and Dustin Plikerd turn their attention toward the crowd in attendance as a resident speaks during the Tuesday evening council meeting. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

Tension once again has mounted in Belle Center after the former fiscal officer resigned citing differences with the mayor.

The village council met Tuesday for the first regular meeting since Bill McCormick left suddenly at the end of March — three months before his previously announced retirement date. He cited differences with Mayor Rhonda Fulmer as the sole reason for his decision to leave the post he has filled for 11 years.

In the interim, a special meeting was called to name Cynthia Longbrake as fiscal officer, but council did not act on the matter. They were also faced with filling the village solicitor position, which became vacant with the recent death of Chris Schrader.

Meanwhile, Mayor Fulmer drafted a letter she circulated among village residents — a letter council members and many of the 30 residents in attendance at the meeting described as “rude,” “disrespectful” and “inappropriate.” Read the letter.

After officially confirming Ms. Longbrake as fiscal officer and attorney Steven Fansler as solicitor, council and the mayor entered a somewhat heated discussion over raising utility rates to allow for repairs and capital improvement projects that loom on the horizon.

“No one is ever popular when they raise rates,” village administrator Gerald Houchin said. “Belle Center is going to have to understand we’ve got an aging sewer system. We are going to be hit by this square between the eyes and you won’t be ready for it.”

While talk of a rate hike to the tune of $4 per month was discussed, no action was taken on the matter.

Eventually, the topic of the letter came up and voices rose throughout the filled room. And the main concern was the mayor’s tone in the letter.

“The only thing I’m taking out of this is a lot of animosity between you and the council,” resident Marilyn Plikerd said. “Rather than working together for the betterment of the village, I’m hearing a lot of ‘I’ and when council talks, I hear a lot of disdain from you.”

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