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Updated: Ard won't answer

Andy Ouriel • Jun 25, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Sandusky’s top official flat out refused to give the seven city commissioners a clear explanation for why she missed an important finance meeting last week.

“I didn’t go to the meeting,” Ard said, responding to commissioner Diedre Cole’s question during a commission meeting Monday.

Ard was referring to her absence from Friday’s finance committee meeting.

Updated with link (click here) to review the city manager contract. 

“I would probably refer you to a closed section in my contract,” Ard said, about her right to skip the meeting. It’s unclear as to what section of her contract stipulates she can skip finance committee meetings.

Friday’s meeting proved important because members — consisting of certified public accountants who volunteer their services to the city — reviewed an audit detailing Sandusky’s recent revenues and expenses.

Ard is a voting member of the finance committee. The committee reviews fiscal challenges and contemplates suggestions as to how officials should set a budget.

Ex officio mayor John Hamilton also failed to attend. Hamilton, however, said he went to a Boy Scouts camp. “I should have given them more of a heads-up,” he said, about letting the committee know he would not attend.

Ard’s absence disappointed committee members.

“Show me in your contract where it says that,” finance committee chairman Allen Nickles said. “I’m speechless. Her response is an embarrassment and a slap in the face to the committee.

“She doesn’t want to go because we hold her feet to the fire,” Nickles said. 

Earlier this year, Nickles questioned a $16 million city operating budget finalized in April. Nickles said the income projections Ard used are way too optimistic.

Ard, the highest-paid city employee at about $126,000 a year, has not made any recommendations or suggestion to officials about balancing the budget if expenses trump income levels.

She did provide commissioners a list of potential cuts, including eliminating up to 27 city jobs, or about 10 percent of the city’s workforce. The cuts would total about $2.2 million in 2014.

She did not include a course of action or how the cuts could be implemented. That decision, she said, is for commissioners to make.

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