Updated: Sandusky's top officials skip finance meeting
Oct 23, 2013 at 7:36 AM
Updated (9:30 p.m. Monday) : City manager Nicole Ard admitted to not attending a finance committee meeting during Monday's city commission meeting. She then said a clause in her contract stipulates she doesn't have to attend these meetings.
Ard is a voting member of the committee and is required to attend, finance committee chairman Allen Nickles said.
"Show me in your contract where it says that," Nickles said. "I'm speechless. Her response is an embarrassment and a slap in the face to the committee."
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Original story (3 p.m. Friday) : Two high-ranking Sandusky officials skipped a vital financial meeting without reason.
City manager Nicole Ard and ex officio mayor John Hamilton failed to attend a Friday morning finance committee session.
Committee members, comprised of several certified public accountants, reviews fiscal challenges and offers suggestions as to how officials should set a budget.
The committee, which includes Ard and Hamilton, meets six times a year.
Friday's meeting proved important because members reviewed an audit, detailing Sandusky's recent revenues and expenses.
"I have no clue why they weren't there," committee chairman Allen Nickles said. "As a common courtesy, if they were going to be on vacation or not be here, they should have at least RSVP'd to say they weren't available."
Hamilton, by phone, said he attended a Boy Scouts camp in Birmingham and Wakeman.
"I should have given them more of a heads up," said Hamilton about his absence.
Ard — the highest paid city official at about $126,000 a year didn't return a message left on her cell phone.
It's common her calls go unanswered. She generally doesn't return phone calls from reporters or respond to email or in-person inquiries. If she does reply, her responses are some times off-topic or nonsensical.
Earlier this year, Nickles questioned a $16 million everyday city operating budget finalized by Ard.
Nickles said the income projections Ard used are too optimistic
The city's primarily income streams — a 1 percent city income tax and 3 percent admissions tax — generate the majority of funds for Sandusky's government.
But bad weather this summer — there's already been several dreary, overcast days in May and June — could result in revenues falling well below Ard's projections, Nickles said.
"If they don't meet the budget, what are they going to do? Nickles said.
Earlier this year, Ard provided commissioners a list of potential cuts that included eliminating up to 27 city jobs, or about 10 percent of the city's workforce — including police officers and firefighters — and slashing $2.2 million in expenses through 2014.
She has not made any recommendations or suggestions to officials, however, as to a course of action or how the cuts could be implemented.