Ard should meet with committee

Register
Jun 30, 2013

 

We don't understand the disconnect between Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard and the city's finance committee. 

The finance committee serves the community on a volunteer basis — for free — and the members of it are CPAs and business leaders in the community who have carefully reviewed the city's finances for many years. They have the deepest understanding of the fiscal challenges the city faces more than anyone and have expressed concern that city commission is not hearing their calls for restraint. 

The committee refused to sign-off on the 2013 city budget Ard prepared and commission approved in March because, they said, Ard did not provide them an adequate response or a reply to questions they raised. The 2013 budget was considered "balanced" when commissioners approved it, but that balance came by way of the elimination of middle management payroll expenses without any plan as to how city services would continue to be provided without a management team. 

With the estate tax revenue the city receives getting eliminated by the state, committee members were not comfortable with the rosy revenue projections Ard's budget is based upon, and they were disappointed she did not respond to their request for a Plan B before the budget was approved by commissioners after a short review. 

We understand their concerns but we don't understand why Ard refuses to meet with the committee or why she skipped the last finance committee meeting earlier this month, which was scheduled as a post-audit review of the 2013 budget projections and expenses. Reviewing that would seem to us to be a top priority for the city manager so she can share with commission whether the 2013 budget projections are on target. 

Ard has not provided the committee or the community an explanation for the disconnect that's occurred, and she refused to answer questions about it during a city commission meeting June 24. She referred to "a closed section of my contract," as her reason for refusing to respond. We don't understand that, either, and were not aware a public employee's contract could have a "closed section."

It's important, we believe, that Ard take steps to repair whatever rift she has with the committee so that commissioners can be fully informed and make responsible budget decisions. It's important, too, for the majority coalition on city commission and Ard to start showing some respect to the volunteers who serve on the finance committee. 

We hope they do that.

Comments

dorothy gale

Two words: FIRE HER!

donutshopguy

The finances of the city should always be the first concern of the leader of that city. Without finances the city could not run.

The commissioners were lacking in their responsibility when they approved a budget that did not have the endorsement of the finance committee. The city manager is taking a dictatorial stance in regard to the advice of people who have more knowledge of financial issues.

This is simply a lack of leadership by both bodies. It does not bode well for the city's future.

usmc21

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

reader

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JohnDorian12

HERE WE GO!!! THIS is why she can do as she pleases....becuz some ignorant jerk will cry sexism or racism.....and please enlighten us as to what meetings the previous CM missed....or was just a Segway into crying racism or sexism....FACT is she is spending tax payers money on anything that fits her own agenda and not feeling like she has to explain being absent, try that at your job, miss a mandatory meeting and refuse to tell your boss why, see where that gets you

Nemesis

Get used to it. After the Nuesse circus, it's a safe bet the commissioners will never dare remove her.

Julie R.

The city took the heat for the Nuesse circus but I knew the minute they brought in Erie County's most popular rent-a-judge who in the COUNTY was behind it.

dontknowmuch

From what I read in the past, I think there have been repeated attempts made by the register to open the lines of communication with Ms. Ard. Maybe for once, Ms. Ard should realize she works for the people of Sandusky and one way to communicate with them is via the media. Thanks reader for bringing the race card into this. Since you have, lets be realistic to understand that Ms. Ard knows firing her won't be easy once she starts crying foul because: 1) she's a female and 2) the color of her skin.

so.....

I know someone who works at the city and needs to see her from time to time for permission to order things. They don't see her. Cant find her. Her people don't know where she is or if they do they're not to bother her. How is this sexist or rascist? This is someone NOT doing her job and seeing to it things are ordered that need ordered. Its crap like this that makes this city run bad.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Reader. The concern about the current city manager's absence was raised by members of the finance committee and a city commissioner. The Register reported on that concern. There wasn't any concern raised or brought to the Register's attention about previous city managers not attending meetings, and it has no bearing on the fiscal concerns that exists today. It also is not an apples-to-apples comparison since at that time the committee met monthly and today it meets four times a year. Please feel free to call me at 419-609-5866 if you'd like to discuss this. Thanks again.

Darkhorse

Here we go with the excuse of sexism and racism. If Ms Ard is a voting member she needs to be at the meeting. Yes, in all fairness other city managers in the past did not attend the finance meeting unless the auditors were giving their report. I would think if the city manager is a voting member, that she would need to attend especially when the budget is so tight. The finance committee only meets quarterly instead of monthly now, so you would expect her to make an appearance. She had no excuse of why she did not attend which doesn't look right. All members should at least give their notice if they are not going to attend. At this point, I think the paper is beating this to death. If the commissioners are not going to talk with the city manager and tell her what they expect from her, she continues to get away with what she is doing and no amount of brow beating from the paper is going to make any difference. It is left entirely to the voters to try to change things when voting in new commissioners. Just ask when voting if your commissioners is working on your behalf and then vote.

J Cooper

What I can't understand why the Register keep rehashing the same story lines, oh I forgot it makes Sandusky looks bad. How about the rehash of the Erie County Commissioners imposing an additional tax without the consent of the taxpayers, wouldn't want to make them look bad, would we?

pavedparadise

Ard thumbing her nose at the Finance Committee (twice) is one in a long list of miscues by the City Manager.

Until the City Commission majority comes to grips with her lack of performance over their own fear of admitting they made the wrong choice, Sandusky will continue to limp along with no plan of action.

Since when is doing nothing considered doing a good job?

Why, after a year and a half on the job, has there not been an evaluation of the City Manager?

reporter54

Donald Trump would have fired her by now.

OSUBuckeye59

Agree 100% with the SR Viewpoint. There are simply too many questions the Commissioners and City Manager seem not willing to address. If according to what I've researched concerning the City Budget process, where the City Manager is required to submit a Budget in November, with said Budget crafted from City Department Manager individual budgets, it would seem that Ms. Ard is in fact responsible for all matters relating to the Budget.

Again from what I've researched, I would expect the City Manager to manage & track the City's spending, to the point where the Manager would be clearly detailing via easy-to-use MSOffice Excel the "Original Budget" vs. "Actuals" numbers, to then present via equally easy-to-use MSOffice PowerPoint the summary details. Managing the City Budget seems to be one of the main responsibilities for anyone holding the City Manager position. Ms. Ard's failure to do so, coupled with the City Commissioners failure to hold her accountable for same indicates a total lack of leadership and a clear concern for the city of Sandusky moving forward...sentiments already shared by the donutshopguy.

gramafun

Why is the SR so concerned with this particular story and not so much with the EC commissioners? While I agree that Ms Ard has some reponsibilities to which she does not seem to adhere, I don't believe she has to answer to the SR for her job. They are not the people to which she must answer. She is, however, responsible to the people of Sandusky. It seems to me that the commissioners are responsible to what she does and does not do. If they aren't that upset enough to question her, then why should the SR care? I would think THEY would be the people that the SR questions, not Ms Ard personally. Why is there such a breakdown between the City Commissioners doing their jobs and Ms Ard doing hers? I would like to see the city commissioners answer to the people of Sandusky for not doing THEIR jobs by questioning Ms Ard and getting answers to their questions. Put the blame where it belongs.

donutshopguy

gramafun,

It is the responsibility of the media to bring questionable actions of public officials to the attention of the public so the public can make their own informed decisions of their own.

Ms. Ard didn't do her job and the city commissioners were just as culpable in approving a budget without the approval of the finance committee.

Julie R.

I'm still waiting for Luvada Wilson ~ the former baliff to the common pleas court of Judge Tygh Tone and before that the former administrative assistant for Judge Ann Maschari ~ to get the Clerk of Court records online.

Darwin's choice

Reincarnated Barbra Johnson?

donutshopguy

Julie,

Ya gotta give hear a few years. Barb Johnson did nothing for over twenty. That's a lot of catching up.

Julie R.

So how do you know she did nothing for over 20 years? Did you get your information from the moderator of the removejohnson blog who was probably working in cahoots with the county public officials? Didn't the county also say that nobody knew about the 3 million dollar unclaimed funds account at Citizens Bank but Barb Johnson? If so, I know for a fact that's a lie. I know it because a certain employee in that office deposited money from that scam court-ordered sheriff sale of my deceased mother and stepfather's property into that account ...... and it was Johnson, when she returned from a medical over 2 years later, who questioned why it was still there only to discover there was never a court order to deposit it into the clerk of court's account to begin with and she transferred it back to the sheriff's department.

The point I'm trying to get across is ---- don't be so quick to believe what the snakes in the county say.

Julie R.

So why isn't Luvada Wilson doing the same thing with the $3 million of unclaimed funds in Erie County that the new Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts is doing with the $23 million they found in an audit?

donutshopguy

Oh, I understand your mistrust in local bureaucrats.

Julie R.

I mistrust local bureaucrats?

Gee, I don't know why. Just because a former auditor authorized a fraudulent transfer of my mother's half to property seven months before her death causing serious defects in the title ........ a former recorder, who is required by law to make sure all filings on property are true and accurate, knowingly filed a fraud document that falsely stated a forged power of attorney hidden in Lorain County was on file in Erie County ..... a probate court that allowed their Huron attorney friends to file a forged Will two years after my mother's death ........ and the former sheriff worked in collusion with the joke common pleas to knowingly sell fraudulently transferred property at an illegal scam sheriff sale through a scam partition action and a fraud preliminary judicial report because they knew it couldn't be sold through normal channels unless the property was put back into the correct probate estate.......

Duh.

And just don't forget ---- what the unethical snakes in the county do unto others, they can do unto you, too.

OSUBuckeye59

I learned the following from a publishing of the March 29th, 2012 minutes of the City’s Human Relations Commission about how the City’s Budget process works, when during the Commission meeting Mr. Hank Solowiej, Finance Director, “made a presentation of the budget process the city follows each year. Budget process starts in the fall and a first draft of the budget is made available by November 1st. The finance committee projects the revenue for the year and the budget is actually prepared by the City Manager. The City Commission cannot pass the budget until after the second Monday of January. Ohio Revised Code says you must have something passed no later than April 1st. The budget must be posted in the newspaper five days prior to the public hearing. Then the City Commission will shall pass the budget.”

If Ms. Ard is responsible for creating the Budget, it would seem entirely plausible she’s also responsible for tracking and possibly modifying the budget should spending exceed allocated Budget for any/all Departments, and/or actual Revenues lag the original forecast, with the periodic finance committee meeting review the forum in which to have the City Manager and Finance Committee members in full attendance.

With the Finance Committee not approving the current year Budget, having Ms. Ard & all Commissioners at the most recent-scheduled Finance Committee review meeting would seem to carry even greater importance than in past meetings. Having a strong, independent and vibrant local press to question the actions and inactions of local government is, IMHO, a bedrock journalistic function of newspapers across the country. I fully expect newspaper like the Sandusky Register to probe and question and report, even if I may not necessarily agree with all that’s eventually printed.

Ms. Ard’s actions, and her apparent disregard in fulfilling the responsibilities of her position are extremely serious and place the city of Sandusky at great risk, both financially and otherwise. And given the City Commissioners seem not willing to assuage the fears and worries of citizens by showing very publicly their concern as well, the same questions and concerns surrounding Ms. Ard raised in the SR editorial should also be targeted directly at the Commissioners.