NEW HAVEN — It was another blow for members of the New Haven Town Council at their most recent meeting, when they found the town might owe as much as $40,000 to the state.
Present were Mayor Phil Serevicz, Recorder Becky Benson, and council members Steve Carpenter, Colton McKinney, Jessica Rickard, Stephen Ohlinger, Jr., and Roy Dale Grimm.
Sarah Stover, who has been assisting the town with work as temporary municipal court clerk, appeared before the council alleging the town court has not been done correctly. She said from fines collected by the town, a portion of that money goes to the state treasurer’s office.
According to Rickard, the last time a record can be found of the town making a payment to the state for fines is in 2015. Police Chief Dave Hardwick told council that between 2,000 and 3,000 tickets have been written since that time.
Town officials now estimate around $40,000 is reportedly owed to the state. The mayor said he and Hardwick will set up a meeting in Charleston with the treasurer’s office to discuss the situation.
In the meantime, Stover, who serves as municipal court clerk for both Mason and Hartford, advised New Haven to put municipal court on hold. She said tickets could still be written by officers, but would go through magistrate court.
“You are conducting a court with no foundation,” Stover stated.
Council members voted to suspend the local court until the matter can be resolved. Stover offered to train a new court clerk but said she was not able to take the job on a permanent basis. She added the position only requires a part-time worker.
The alleged court problem is one of many the council has faced since taking office in August. The brown water plaguing many of the residents, an existing fine from the Department of Environmental Protection for wastewater violations, and an alleged amount of over $237,000 owed to the town from overdue water and sewer bills are among other issues.
On the water bill issue, office employee Molly Fisher asked the council to adopt the Public Service Commission format of collecting past due utility payments. She showed examples of the forms used by the Town of Mason. The council agreed to place it on the next meeting agenda.
Fisher also said under the CARES Act, any resident qualifying can receive assistance on past due amounts between March 1 and July 31. Applications are available at the town hall.
December 5 at 11 a.m. was announced as the day and time of the annual Christmas parade. Line-up will take place at the community center at 10:30 a.m. and those wishing to participate should call the town hall at 304-882-3203.
Also discussed for Christmas was decorating the roadside park, and the possibility of new decorations through the town. No action was taken.
In other action, the council:
Approved building permits for Paul Madill for a carport on Main Street, Stephen Duncan for a roof repair on Fourth Street, and Curry Russell for roof solar panels on Midway Drive;
Heard a report from the mayor that all building permit applications with jobs over $2,500 must include a copy of the contractor’s license, if a contractor is used;
Heard from resident Michelle Dolin that she is willing to volunteer time to scan town ordinances for placement on the internet;
Agreed to hire a part-time CDL licensed driver for the garbage truck;
Hired Adam Grimm as a full-time maintenance worker; and,
Agreed to give a pay increase to Supervisor Buzzy Duncan.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.