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Council must redo trustee reduction

by CJ Carnacchio

April 25, 2012

The Leonard Village Council recently made a boo-boo, but it's working to rectify the matter.

At its April 9 meeting, council voted to reduce its number of trustees from six to four, making it a body of five members, including the village president.

However, council later learned it needed to conduct a public hearing and discuss the matter at two meetings before taking any action.

"The village attorney brought it to our attention," explained village President Mike McDonald. "We did not observe the strict notification requirements. At this point, (the reduction) hasn't been legally adopted."

McDonald made no excuses for the error.

"I take full responsibility for that," he said. "My understanding was we adopted (the reduction) that night. I was incorrect. I'm not proud of it."

To correct its mistake, the village council has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed reduction for 7 p.m. Monday, May 14 at Rowland Hall (23 E. Elmwood St.).

Following the hearing, McDonald expects council to discuss the proposed reduction and act on it at its June meeting.

If adopted, the reduction wouldn't formally take effect until 45 days after a public notice announcing it was published in the Oxford Leader, the village's official newspaper of record.

That is, unless some Leonard resident files a petition opposing it. Such a petition must contain valid signatures from at least 10 percent of the village's registered voters.

"If a petition is filed, the village council could either repeal the ordinance or just let it go to a vote at the next election," McDonald said.

Council's interest in downsizing itself was precipitated by the fact that it currently has two open seats, but absolutely no public interest in filling them.

In light of this, officials felt the 403-resident village could be effectively governed by a five-member council as opposed to a seven-member one.

On the financial side, the proposed reduction would result in a small savings for the municipality.

Trustees are paid $30 for each council meeting they attend. Having two less would save the village $60 per month or $720 annually.