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Ard faces tough questions

Andy Ouriel • Jan 14, 2014 at 2:40 PM

“We had a discussion about the city manager’s performance” said ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. following the hourlong, closed-door meeting. “There is going to be another executive session to continue that discussion”

Commissioners plan to reconvene behind closed doors at 5 p.m. Thursday in City Hall to continue talking about Ard.    Ohio law allows elected officials to enter an executive session and discuss, among other things, an employee’s dismissal, discipline or demotion.

The private meeting came after a lengthy public session, when commissioners appeared puzzled and frustrated trying to understand documents Ard prepared in addressing Sandusky’s looming $1.1 million shortfall.

General confusion stemmed from a three-page memo Ard presented, outlining some cuts to offset the red ink. The memo appeared brief in nature and short on specifics.

“It doesn’t make sense what you are saying,” commissioner Naomi Twine said about how Ard determined a certain savings through health care.

Murray piggybacked off Twine’s concerns, asking Ard to explain exactly how much the city can save if employees subscribing to Sandusky’s health care plan contribute more.

Ard said the city’s insurance consultants advised her a savings seemed unrealistic. She then suggested any money saved would funnel back into the company’s coffers, rather than Sandusky’s budget.

Murray, however, didn’t seem happy with her answer, asking Sandusky law director Don Icsman to research this because Ard’s statement “doesn’t initially seem to ring true to me”

Furthermore, the document Ard provided didn’t fulfill a request made by commissioners more than a month ago.

Commissioners asked Ard to prioritize city services and provide a cause-and-effect document, indicating possible ramifications if certain cuts or layoffs actually happened in specific departments.

But Ard, responsible for formulating a budget and related plan, failed to include these details in her presentation.

“We ask her to do very little and she has done less,” commissioner Dick Brady said.

The simple task seemed easy enough, commissioner Wes Poole said.

“We need to address the management of how we spend our money and how we utilize our people,” Poole said. “I want to know what the downside is if we cut”

Watch the entire city commission meeting in the player below

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