UHRICHSVILLE (WJER) (Jan. 14, 2022) – The new year is getting off to a rocky start within the city’s government.
Council President Buck Cottrell last night publicly accused Mayor Mark Haney of selling equipment without council’s permission and obstructing his efforts to get members together to appropriate funds for the first part of the year.
“Only Mr. Fox, Ms. Myers was bothered to respond and show up to those meetings. The other council members, I believe at Mayor Haney’s direction, wouldn’t respond to my multiple requests to set up meetings, the day or time I said they could pick. I had three emergency meetings scheduled, and I did not get a quorum for any of ‘em.”
Haney calls Cottrell’s claim that he encouraged certain members not to attend those sessions baseless.
“I have no control over what council people do. I know that Councilman Miller had some medical issues. I know Councilman Huff was working a lot because he’s short-handed at the restaurant of course with the COVID, so I mean he doesn’t have enough employees as it is. So, I don’t have any influence in that. I don’t even have to be there.”
The equipment Cottell was referring to was a Durapatcher and decommissioned ambulance Haney had listed on a government sales site. Haney swore council had authorized the sales when Councilwoman Amy Myers questioned him about it earlier in the meeting, even though neither he nor Myers could find written record of the discussion. Haney claims it happened during the April 8th council meeting that ended abruptly when Councilman Bob Baker experienced a medical emergency. The meeting had been live-streaming on Facebook but Haney says because of what happened, they removed it and erased the recording.
Cottell in his statement also blamed Haney for the departure of the city’s last auditor. He claims Haney put extreme pressure on Jessica Young not to make payments to Dennison under a decades-old tax-sharing agreement after council authorized them, creating the hostile work environment she cited in her resignation letter.
“[She] told me that Mayor Haney told her that she could be cited by the state authority for making such payments. Mayor Haney did not want the tax payed and he would do anything to stop it from happening. He has overstepped his authority.”
The agreement from 1998 entitles Dennison to 37-percent of the payroll taxes the city collects from Claymont High School. Haney has been questioning its legality based on the opinion of a Columbus-area law firm but says he never pressured Young to withhold the village’s payments.
“I’ve advised her of nothing. I’m waiting for the state auditor’s office. We have a possible meeting here in the next couple of days and I’m also waiting for a couple of other things that are happening in Columbus.”
The city hasn’t yet paid Dennison its share of the taxes from last year, prompting threats of legal action from village Mayor Greg DiDonato. Haney has selected Young’s former assistant Becky Carpenter as the new auditor so the decision now falls on her.