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.


dire wolf

The bottom line here is that this city deserves better than what these two are giving. Until this city stands up and says that they will not tolerate this type of leadership, the city will continue to suffer. If either of those two had anything worthwhile to say, they would have made sure they were at the meeting. If they had any leadership skills at all, they would have made sure they had something to say at that meeting. The boy scout excuse is total b.s. Hamilton should be relieved of his duties asap. As for the city manager, she obviously has no clue what to do and is now like a deer in headlights. She felt her best option was to be a no-show, and provide no explanation, whether it be b.s or not. my dog could have done the job just as well as her. This is embarrassing to the city.


Your city manager is only as good as the leadership. If there is no direction, how do you expect her to manage? It is really difficult to manager when there are seven commissioners directing her seven different ways.



What direction? Sandusky reminds me of the old Looney Tune cartoon where the dog was chasing the rabbit saying "Which way did he go George, which way did he go George"


Gubmint employee.


anyone know what the median income is for residents of the city of Sandusky? I would guess that Ms. Ard is making more than twice that amount...even if we take the median income of people who are not unemployed or on welfare, the median is probably less than half of Ms. Ard's salary and those people have to show up to work every day. Just curious how much more than average her salary is compared to how subaverage her job requirements appear to be


Hey Dire Wolf why don't you run for city commission. You seem tgo be the expert. Have you ever missed work? Hope your boss docked your pay if you did.

dire wolf

i can honestly say that in all my years, i've never been a no show, no call for any day of work, let alone an important financial meeting i had. It shows a lack of respect and makes a person look overmatched and foolish. Especially when i was getting paid to be there, and it was why i was hired for the job. Thanks for hoping for my hardship, but fear not, i don't cash checks for jobs i don't show up for.


She didn't call or show up for an important meeting! Your FIRED!


Yeah Right


How do we get rid of these clowns?


I think she wants fired she has a nice severance package


Yep. U r correct, She has a plan and it ain't for Sandusky!


Are Ard's job requirements clearly defined? Success metrics clearly articulated? Was it an expectation or requirement for Ard & Hamilton to be at the meeting?

As a member of the Finance Committee, and given Ard's position of City Manager, my expectation is her attendance at the meeting is mandatory. And who manages Ard? What repercussions, if any, will Ard face for not attending and not forewarning?

Given Ard's position as City Manager, coupled with her salary, I would fully expect she be present and accounted for at the Finance Committee meeting. Not showing and not pre-alerting the Committee Chairman is unacceptable. In the case of Hamilton, he should have requested the Committee move the meeting by a week, if possible, or prepare and have someone attend in his stead. With Ard, this non-attendance and non-forewarning, coupled with her previous "budget scribbled on a piece of paper" incident, is in keeping with a terribly junior level of performance indicating at least to me that Sandusky is overpaying to the tune of $100,000/year too much for its current city manager.