LEIPSIC — Ordinarily, the purchase of a vehicle by a municipality for the use of the municipality is of little consequence; an event receiving passing notice, space permitting, in small community newspapers such as this. Just such an occurence became the occasion for palpable tension during Monday’s meeting of the Leipsic Village Council; not the purchase itself, but the manner of its procurement.

The details of the purchase are inconsequential. In keeping with good fiscal policy, Village Administrator Justin Barnhart sought quotes from rival retailers Chevrolet of Ottawa and Reineke Ford. Quotes provided last month from both lots showed a $3,000 difference in price for comparable vehicles, with the Ford truck coming in lower.

“It came down that Reineke Ford had a truck we’re going to end up paying $28,000 for, total,” Barnhart told council. “I’ve made no bones about it, I’ve been trying to make our fleet match with the silver vehicles. They just look good. We have an F250 sitting at Kalida Truck right now that we’ve already purchased.”

Barnhart’s final statement, that the truck was “already purchased,” raised questions and eyebrows.

“Did you know about this?” Mayor Kevin Benton asked Councilor Al Pingle.

“Was I aware that we were looking to buy a new pickup truck?” Pingle responded. “Yes.”

Councilor Brian Reynolds then asked Barnhart if the vehicle was paid for.

“Yes,” Barnhart replied. “My spending authority is $50,000 and it’s in the budget.”

The ensuing silence was broken by Pingle.

“We’re going to have to pay much closer attention to the budget,” he said. “Your $50,000 allowance is for emergencies only.”

“No,” Barnhart replied. “Since when?”

“That’s the only reason why it was ever presented,” Pingle said. “If you couldn’t get hold of council, you could spend that much money.”

“It’s Ohio Revised Code, Al,” Barnhart stated. “This is why you have an administator. So that decisions are made and won’t become political.”

“You just made it political,” Pingle replied, shortly after which the conversation uncomfortably ended.

In other business, council approved two levies for placement on the November ballot, a 2 mill renewal levy for the fire department and a 1.6 mill renewal levy for street lights. Both resolutions were passed as emergencies as there was no quorum at council’s last meeting in July. Emergency passage permitted Barnhart to deliver the levies to the Putnam County Board of Elections by an established deadline.

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Utilities Operator Russ Teders informed council of a three-day lift station failure at the Iams plant at the end of July. According to Teders, the failure occured on July 27, but wasn’t discovered until July 29. Clean-up of the resulting spill was overseen by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the cost for clean-up — $7,500 — is the responsibility of the village, according to Barnhart.

Council then briefly discussed the purchase of an F550 one-and-a-half ton dump truck, a purchase put forward by Barnhart. After reviewing the particulars of the vehicle and the purchase, council voted to table the proposal for future discussion.

Finally, the first reading of a resolution that could open the door for an alternative energy source employed by the village was heard by council. The resolution outlines the use of solar panels, provided by Ameresco, Inc., to facilitate a micro-grid at the pump station for the village’s new waterline from the Blanchard River to its reservoir. While Barnhart negotiated a rate scale with the village’s electric provider precluding the need to establish the micro-grid as the primary energy source, council is considering the use of solar panels as both a back-up and supplemental power source.

The next regular meeting of the Leipsic Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the village offices.