M’burg Council drops hammer on unauthorized purchases

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]media.com

MECHANICSBURG – Village Council took a stand Monday against village employees making unauthorized purchases by voting down a request by Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS to approve a payment of $2,674 for hose testing services already performed.

Assistant Fire Chief/EMS Chief Steve Castle made the request for the funds, telling council, “Bob (Keene, fire chief) told me it was an oversight on his behalf. The oversight was the purchase order process was not followed.

“Just until recently, I was not aware there was no such thing as a standing PO (purchase order),” Castle added.

Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis reminded Castle and council that she has tried various times to communicate to village employees that there is a process that has to be followed for purchase orders, which begins with filling out a purchase order request.

In the case of the $2,674 purchase order to FireCatt, Michigan, for the fire department’s annual hose testing, no purchase order request was submitted to village officials.

“This happens way too often,” Huggins-Davis said. “It was ordered and (FireCatt) came in and did it, and it was billed to an individual on the fire department. Obviously, we aren’t taken seriously when it comes to these things happening because they happen all the time.”

Council member Jodi Compton added she has received communications on several occasions from administration concerning how purchase orders are to be handled, and she called the most recent issue “a little beyond oversight.”

“If someone is not following that policy, that’s a liability to this village,” she said. “We need to make sure we are progressively disciplining whoever is not following our policies.

“We have to be stewards of our finances. Everybody is watching us. There is a reason there is a process,” Compton added.

Following discussion on whether to approve Castle’s request for payment of the $2,674 purchase order, council unanimously passed a motion denying payment of the unauthorized purchase.

According to the village’s purchase order process, the individual who buys a product or service without an approved purchase order is responsible for payment.

When asked how the purchase order to FireCatt will be paid, Mayor Greg Kimball said, “It’s up to the individual who requested the work to be done.”

To reiterate the village’s stance on the matter, Huggins-Davis added, proper authorization must be given to ensure future purchase orders from Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS are paid through village funds.

“It has to be approved by me and by Dan (Eck, fiscal officer),” she said. “It’s a check and balance. We are responsible for how the money gets spent.”

Leaf pickup

Council was presented with an update to the village’s newly proposed leaf collection policy.

The policy, expected to be presented to council in the form of a resolution on Aug. 15, provides residents with three options when it comes to handling leaf disposal this fall.

The options, according to Huggins-Davis, are as follows:

•Leaves can be bagged and put out for collection by the village.

•Residents can mow their leaves.

•Residents can transport their leaves to the village’s leaf compost on Railroad Street.

For residents who don’t follow the policy and rake their leaves into the street, council is set to vote on an ordinance on Aug. 15 that aims to keep leaves out of the storm sewers by establishing a penalty for individuals who “recklessly” place leaves in the vicinity of village curbs and gutters.

In other business:

•Resident Nancy Rhodes addressed council in regards to concerns with children playing basketball in the street near her 168 E. Race St. home. Rhodes said not only is she concerned with the safety of the children, but also with the children damaging her personal property as one of her vehicles was dented by a basketball.

“I shouldn’t have to move because of a basketball hoop,” she said.

Village Solicitor Joe Jimenez told Rhodes he would review the village’s nuisance statutes to see if there is anything in the books that can help remedy the situation. If nothing currently exists, council could consider taking legislative action to address concerns over children playing in village streets, Jimenez added.

•Huggins-Davis informed council Moody’s of Dayton Inc. is finishing the rehabilitation of well No. 1 at the Mechanicsburg Water Treatment Plant, 420 W. Main St. She said the well should be back online later this week.

•Council passed a motion authorizing Huggins-Davis to spend up to $9,000 for street repairs and to address a recent water main break on Mill Street.

As for street repairs, Huggins-Davis noted Purdum Blacktop II, London, submitted an estimate of $8,026 to take care of the work, which includes cutting out and patching 15 spots throughout the village.

“These are areas on some of the roads around town that need to be fixed,” she said.

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.