DOVER (WJER) (March 9, 2022) – City Council Monday approved the city’s $71.3 million budget for 2022.
Auditor Nicole Stoldt says the “big dollar items” planned for the coming year include traffic signalization and sidewalk projects headed by ODOT, storm sewer projects, and work on the riverfront park property.
Stoldt says the city is putting aside $750,000 for paving – the most it’s ever spent in a year.
Council President Shane Gunnoe says ODOT also is paving Tuscarawas Avenue through the downtown, starting in March. The project is $1.8 million, with the city paying $137,000.
“So between that and the $750,000 we’re going to do ourselves, that’s like $2.5 million worth of paving,” Gunnoe said.
The city also plans to buy two new police cruisers, a leaf machine, a dump truck, a backhoe and a mower.
The total proposed budget for capital projects is just under 4.6 million dollars, which is about 13 percent more than a year ago. Total appropriations are 4.2 percent more than last year’s.
Finance committee chair criticizes mayor
Stoldt and Councilman Kevin Korns thanked the city’s department heads for their contributions.
Korns, however, criticized Mayor Rick Homrighausen for not attending Monday’s finance committee meeting or providing input to Stoldt on the budget.
“I’m kind of disappointed the mayor chose not to show up to voice any of his opinions during this meeting,” Korns said. “I guess he doesn’t care enough about how we spend the money.
“Even though we have an absentee leader we’re still operating with the work of our great department heads and our great employees of the city.”
Homrighausen said he did not attend “because I haven’t been asked to be a part of it and I always have been.”
Stoldt says putting together the budget is her responsibility. She says Homrighausen sent letters to department heads but never contacted her.
Homrighausen confronted over work schedule
Homrighausen at the later City Council meeting was defiant against suggestions he is an absentee leader.
Council members for the past year have been saying he only works a few hours a week. It’s one of many reasons they’ve cited when asking Homrighausen to resign.
Monday, resident Toni King asked the mayor how many hours he worked.
“Twenty-four/seven,” the mayor said.
The mayor also said, “yes,” when asked if he provided effective leadership during the pandemic.
“Mayor, you weren’t even here,” Councilwoman Sandy Moss responded, echoing past criticism from Council members. They have said the mayor was missing in action during the pandemic, leaving other department heads to craft the city’s response.
“I was at COVID meetings over at the county numerous times,” the mayor said.
The differences between City Council and the mayor have recently spilled into Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court. Homrighausen is suing the city to get it to pay for his legal costs related to three former city employees’ appeals of their terminations in December.
City Council wants to bring them back but the mayor wants to fight it in the case before the State Personnel Board of Review.