Updated: Sandusky's top officials skip finance meeting

City manager Nicole Ard, ex officio mayor John Hamilton among those missing important session without giving notice.
Andy Ouriel
Jun 21, 2013

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."

Pick up Tuesday's Register or subscribe to the e-Paper here, to read more about the dispute.

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.



Well Mr mayor it seems the boy scouts take precedence over your duties as running the city.. We see what's more important to you. If you are unable to do the job you were elected to please step down otherwise do your job....


I put my family before my job...

Colonel Angus

I've got no problem with that. However, if you ran for city comissioner I could not vote for you.


It was about the Mayor. He actually said he wasn't going to be there. Ard, however, is a disgrace and I find it sad that she is running Sandusky. How'd she get that job again?

dorothy gale

More importantly, WHY is she STILL HERE?!


I dont like to agree with you usually Sandusky2012, but on this you are right on.....


Is this the SR creating a controversy as retribution?

What was so "vital" about the meeting? That Andy Ouriel was there and Ard was not? What critical decisions made? Sounds like they saw a power point. Nothing in the article indicates that her presence was anything more than perfunctory and pro forma.

An article like this reads like payback for Ard's not giving comment on the SR's schedule. It seems to be a common tactic, if the offical doesn't respond then the SR writes a misleadingly controversial, attention grabbing headline and an empty article. Remember the series on how Gunner didn't respond to a reporter's emails?

I can't speak to Ard's performance, but I'd like to read these nonsensical emails the SR has.

If I were a city official I wouldn't be in much of a hurry to respond to the SR either, and I kind of respect any official who tells them to shove it by not responding to them.


Who said it was vital??? It WAS however, mandatory and she doesn't show up and doesn't say why??? Try doing tht at your job...see what happens. How many "pointless" meetings have you had to sit through but you did, cuz you HAD to... That's the point she's spitting in the face of everyone, almost daring them to do something. But keep on paying her $127K a year another horrible choice by that commission

Raoul Duke

Too many dummies.

The General

Jimmmbooooo, are you avoiding me baby cakes?


You would think Hamilton could have sent a back up commissioner on such an important meeting especially with auditors giving their report. As for Ard, she doesn't have to answer to the newspaper only to 4 commissioners. It is not like the committee meets every month like they use to meet.It is embarrassing not to have the city manager show up on something so important.


wow, nice commentary on the City Manager, looks like taxpayers are totally getting their $126,000/yr money's worth...she didn't meet any of her goals, she doesn't talk to anyone, she doesn't think the finances of the city are the most important part of her job...I will take this job for $110,000 and return my phone calls


If its a bidding thing, I will take the job for $105,000 i can not return calls and not goto meetings and spend hardworking taxpayers money on crap, but let everything else go to hell i.e. streets and crime, then get rid of police and firefighters......bravo Nicole because you KNOW that given the "circumstances" if the commission ever voted to remove you, we BOTH know you would say its because youre a woman, a BLACK woman at that, your job is very safe!


I'll take it for $55,000.


55k really? damn...well, if I can keep my current job and then just not do anything at all...which seems to be the case here, I suppose I'm good for 54k

dorothy gale

Heck, I'd do it for 50 grand!

dire wolf

It almost seems as if Ard is in over her head. Common sense says that anyone who does their homework and is prepared for their business will show up and get the job done. Hamilton should also be relieved of his duties asap. If his boy scout meetings are more important, and he doesn't show enough respect to the people who pay him his salary to give proper notice, why is he still on the payroll? Add these two to the long list of mistakes made by the city. The fact that they blew off this important meeting now has me believing they were both afraid to show up. This city deserves better.


Well why should she show up? She's not going to anything but suggest how to spend more taxpayers money....but try not showing up to a mandatory meeting at your job....what would happen??


I have to say I commend the SR for reporting this....she should have to answer to taxpayers about this


I don't know how Ard got this job but it's becoming very apparent that she's not doing it very well. I'd say it's time for a replacement.



SR watcher

And we thought Rick Finn was bad. At least he showed up to meetings and answered questions. Might not have liked what he had to say all the time, but at least he attended meetings, spoke to the press, and tried to earn what the City was paying him.


Things are not good at city hall when Ard avoids the newspaper reporter. That is one big fat red flag. No one can get any information out of her.


I admit that I am from out of town, but I do business in Sandusky. I really don't understand your form of city gov't, either. Why is this woman getting paid so much when all the things she does or doesn't do is in a locked vault somewhere that the public can't see or even talk to her?

She's the City Manager and what else?


Ah yes, the ole cut safety services routine....you gotta love it. Good idea Ms Ard...good idea. Here's a better if not great idea. HIRE SAFETY SERVICE PERSONNEL! Make this city safe so people will want to live here, companies will want to locate here, pay taxes here and up goes to standard of living. Play SIM CITY. It'll teach the officials how to run a government...


Town Clowns - all of them.

Your city government is so messed up.


Ard....she wasn't from here anyway - was she?


Kim Nuesse for Mayor, City Manager and Police Chief!

I think she's the only one Westerhold would be happy with.


well they cannot fire her because if they do she has a nice severance package....... who's laughing all the way to the bank?


WHAT does her job entail? Is she just a figurehead?

She may as well be the Queen of England for all I can tell. The Queen and her family get BIG $$$$$ from the Brits for doing absolutely nothing but being there.