Full plate for Portage council
By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent June 5, 2012 11:02PM
Updated: June 7, 2012 6:28PM
PORTAGE — The City Council debated three ordinances Tuesday night: One was defeated, one passed and one was tabled to be reconsidered in 90 days.
The ordinance shot down was to re-establish the tax levy on personal and real property for the cumulative capital development fund. It would increase the levy from 2 cents to 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Councilman Ted Uzelac was the only vote in favor of the increase. “This won’t apply to those residents already at the cap, only those below the property tax cap,” Uzelac said.
Confusion surrounded an ordinance requiring council member presence at collective bargaining sessions involving city departments. Councilman Matt Scheuer made a motion to approve the ordinance, seconded by councilman Mark Oprisko only after a long delay.
The debate became politically charged when Scheuer, speaking in favor of the ordinance, said, “I feel we need to make a statement to the mayor that the council has a prerogative to be present at the negotiations.”
Councilmember Elizabeth Modesto made a motion to amend the ordinance that would require council approval of all collective bargaining agreements. The original ordinance was withdrawn and a new one cobbled together in discussions between Clerk-Treasurer Christopher Stidham and city attorney Gregg Sobkowski.
“I have trouble when we pass an ordinance solely for the purpose of political finger-pointing,” Uzelac said.
“I’m inclined to send this back to the ordinance committee to work on the language,” said council president Sue Lynch, noting later that she has “had the pleasure of sitting on some bargaining sessions.”
“There is nothing keeping council members from attending bargaining sessions,” Oprisko said.
Mayor James Snyder made a last-minute plea to defeat the ordinance, promising to keep council members apprised of negotiations. “Politicians have no business being involved in contract negotiations,” he said.
The ordinance passed with Uzelac and councilman John Cannon voting against.
And last but not least, mobile home park residents are assured of at least 90 more days of city garbage pickup as the ordinance eliminating that service was tabled and sent back to the ordinance committee by unanimous vote.