By now, most residents of the City of St. Marys are aware that members of the St. Marys City Council passed a series of resolutions on Thursday, Aug. 4, to begin the process of dissolving the city's parking authority. However, little information other than that is known due to the fact that the discussion leading up to that action all took place during executive sessions.
Because of the lack of information available to area residents on the matter, St. Marys resident Ned Jacob approached council members during their meeting on Monday evening in an attempt to gain some more insight about the situation.
Jacob began by explaining to council that he had attended the parking authority's most recent meeting and they freely told him their side of the story.
"I would like to hear city council's story on the parking authority, why we're going to dismantle the parking authority and what led up to that," Jacob said.
Instead of answering Jacob's question, council members began to debate the legality of the parking authority's meeting.
City Manager Dave Greene remarked that the authority's meeting was only supposed to be an executive session.
"It was an executive session. Were you invited?" Greene asked Jacob.
Jacob responded that the parking authority did indeed have an executive session, but then held a regular meeting as well.
"It wasn't an advertised meeting. It wasn't a legal meeting," Greene said. "They can have an executive session, which is what they told us they were having."
Jacob attempted to get council back on track and again asked to hear their side of the story regarding their decision to do away with the parking authority.
Mayor Sally Geyer explained that council's decision is justified by the Home Rule Charter; however, she did not give any indication of what specific issues led to that outcome.
"It's in the Home Rule Charter that the city council can disband any authority, boards or whatever," Geyer said. "There was an issue with the parking authority and they did not want to comply with what the city council had requested. They're an arm of the city and they were going to be working against the city council on this. They were asked not to and they pretty much said they didn't need to comply with what city council wanted."
Jacob again asked council members to provide more information on the specific issue to which Geyer referred.
Councilman Dick Dornisch responded that if Jacob had attended the parking authority's meeting, then he should have already heard the issue.
"I'm asking you in an open meeting what's going on here with the parking authority," Jacob replied. "Why are we doing this? What led up to this situation?"
Dornisch responded that the situation stemmed from an 'unresolvable issue.'
"There was an unresolvalbe issue that had to do with them going against the direct wishes of council on an issue that had been determined by council sometime previously," Dornisch said. "The people that were involved were doing exactly what council had passed a motion and told them to do, and [the authority] simply did not want to follow our directions. [We met in executive sessions] and determined if they did not serve us as they were appointed to do, then we had no reason to continue going on with them. We might as well dismiss them and take care of these issues ourselves."
Again Jacob asked about the nature of the specific issue.
Finally Dornisch admitted that the issue related to the parking garage.
"Let's just say it had to do with the parking garage and what they determined the parking garage should be and what we had determined, with the bottom falling out of the [economy], that it could be with the monies that were available," Dornisch said. "They didn't agree and so we met an impasse and it became their choice to leave because we were not getting anywhere."
Dornisch noted that he was trying to give Jacob a 'bare-bones' summary of the situation.
"I don't think it's an issue that has to be turned into any kind of cause célèbre," Dornisch said. "It simply was an issue that could not be resolved between the two bodies."