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Murray voices top concerns

Andy Ouriel • Nov 26, 2013 at 10:20 AM

But no one can accuse the lawyer and politician of being bashful.

Murray, one of three newly elected Sandusky city commissioners, frequently posed questions, requests and critiques to other officials at a recent public meeting.

While Murray’s not yet officially a commissioner, he’s allowed to attend meetings and provide input to any issue voted on or discussed.

Murray expressed his concerns about five issues, including why problems exist and his justifications:

Concern No. 1: City officials ignoring the issue of whether to stay or leave City Hall.

• Why it’s an issue: City commissioners haven’t decided on whether to stay, sell off or move offices elsewhere in Sandusky. The building’s old and outdated, with repairs costing upwards of $6 million. Sandusky’s chief building official said he doesn’t feel comfortable investing in a nearly 60-year-old building and recommends constructing an entirely new structure. The municipal court facility is also in shambles, with constant leaks, security issues and other problems.

• Murray’s response: “We need to fish or cut bait with respect to this building. Pouring more money into this building and not having fully resolved the question of where we are going to be in two years makes no sense at all. It makes it all the more likely we will be stuck in an inadequate building.”

Concern No. 2: City commissioners voting on numerous items deemed as “emergency legislation.”

• Why it’s an issue: In a nutshell, emergency legislation allows officials to vote on an issue without giving community members enough notice beforehand.

• Murray’s response: “What I am politely suggesting to staff, moving forward, is to provide an explanation as to why legislation is proposed as emergency legislation. If there’s a good reason for it, I’ll vote for it. But if there isn’t, I’m going to vote ‘no.’ The public has a right to know about an important issue more than just a couple days before the agenda is disseminated and should be able to reflect on what legislation is good.”

Concern No. 3: The lingering status of Bowling Green State University and area schools possibly developing a science center or other research opportunities at the Sandusky Bay Pavilion.

• Why it’s an issue: The park — a long-neglected property, which includes a blighted pool — is a safety risk. Getting education entities involved in the property would help revitalize this East Water Street facility and foster goodwill throughout the community.

• Murray’s response: “Staff at Bowling Green has said ‘We are interested, and we want to go out and raise grant money to support programs there.’ But those funding entities need us to be able to provide proof that they have a secure facility and that we are developing a master plan.”

Concern No. 4: City manager Nicole Ard proceeding with town hall-style meetings and presenting a tentative budget and possible projects to community members without approval, input or support from commissioners.

• Why it’s an issue: Asking about projects without proper funding might be problematic, considering Sandusky faces a $1 million deficit in its $16 million everyday operating budget, funding many services such as fire and police. Officials must balance the budget — either by making cuts or raising revenues, such as taxes — by March.

• Murray’s response: “I’m not sure we don’t have the cart before the horse here. I’d rather have those discussions about the budget before. I prefer the time frame to address some budget issues. Once we have a sense of how that is likely to play out, we can move forward. We need to get feedback from the community and find out what their priorities are.”

Concern No. 5: City commissioners ignoring a request from a local police union to consider naming the new west end overpass after slain Sandusky police Officer Andrew Dunn.

• Why it’s an issue: It’s just overall rude to ignore a request, Murray said.

• Murray’s response: “I thought that was a fine suggestion. I’m certainly open to other suggestions, but my objection was it wasn’t addressed. Just answer the question. If you want to honor more heroes from Sandusky, that’s fine, but let’s do something.”

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