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Fiscal officer discussion quelled at brief meeting

Despite the fact that the village fiscal officer walked off the job Monday and has not returned, Belle Center Council President Rick Bednarki had one item on the agenda and stuck strictly to that business at a short emergency council meeting Tuesday.

The business involved transferring $3,000 from the general fund to the sewer operating fund to pay the approximately $6,600 monthly waste treatment fee to the Indian Lake Water Pollution Control District — a bill that was due Tuesday.

Mayor Rhonda Fulmer said she discussed the issue with officials at the sewage treatment plant and they agreed to waive the 10 percent late fee on a one-time basis.

But the lingering question was who will actually make the transfer in the computer system and sign the check after Cindy Longbrake walked off the job as fiscal officer Monday, citing differences with the mayor.

Mr. Bednarki said both he and Village Administrator Gerald Houchin have authority to sign checks on the village’s behalf and said he will work with the mayor and Ms. Longbrake to make sure the transfer happens and the bill is paid today.

Mayor Fulmer brought up the issue of the fiscal officer, saying she had someone who is willing to do the job, but council members, several of whom said before and after the meeting  they would not support a selection made by the mayor, entertained no discussion of the subject.

“We are here for one purpose. I was told this fund is short and we may need to add some money to it,” Mr. Bednarki said. “The fiscal officer will not be discussed at this meeting. If we discuss anything else, we are in violation of the Sunshine Laws.”

Council then voted to make the $3,000 transfer and adjourned in less than 15 minutes.

Following the meeting, Mr. Bednarki went across the street to the Dairy Corner, where Ms. Longbrake was eating and asked if she would return, Ms. Longbrake said in a telephone call later Tuesday evening.

She said she would have returned to the position if Mayor Fulmer offered an apology. When she spoke with the mayor in the municipal building, however, the mayor refused to offer an apology and demanded a formal letter of resignation, Ms. Longbrake said.

Ms. Longbrake said she has no intention of returning to the job or filing a formal letter of resignation unless the mayor resigns first.

Mr. Bednarki said he will call a special meeting in the near future to address the fiscal officer situation.

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