At a special meeting Feb. 21, Paden City Council held the second reading of an ordinance regarding the temporary absence or extended leave of council members. Should a council member be absent from meetings for more than 90 days, the ordinance permits the rest of the council to appoint temporary representation for that member's position until the former council member returns.
The ordinance was drafted following concerns voiced at the Jan. 7 meeting, in which citizens from the first ward of Paden City expressed a need for representation due to the extended leave of their ward's representative for health reasons.
Several councilmen raised questions about the clarity of the ordinance as well as certain legal aspects that may be involved with temporary appointments, such as possible back pay, the use of the word "compensations", and the determination of an individual's health status.
Councilman Tom Trader said that, even after contacting the Secretary of State's office, the Election Division, the Auditor's office, and lawyers, he could not find any prerequisite cases.
"It's pretty sad that our state representatives don't know the answer to that question," said Trader. "With state and federally elected officials, that question should have come up a long time ago."
He said that the Secretary of State's office did, however, explain that there was nothing stating the council could not draft and implement such an ordinance.
Mayor John Hopkins referred to the ordinance as "uncharted territory," and said, "If it's disputed later, we can deal with it later."
After much discussion on legal aspects and options for the role of temporary representation, the council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of the Temporary Absence Ordinance, which went into effect immediately.
March 25 is the date set for a public hearing on an ordinance that would end the residency requirement for Paden City's chief of police. The ordinance cites the importance of that position being filled by someone with the right knowledge, skills, and training for the job and states how those qualifications may not always be found within city limits. There will be no voting actions taken at that meeting, but the public will be free to voice their opinion.
A resolution was made authorizing the deposit of investments into a consolidated water fund in a West Virginia Money Market account, which should go toward painting water tanks every couple years. "If we put $5,000 in there a month for a year, we're going to have $60,000 by the end of the year," said City Recorder Tami Billiter. "Last time we had a tank painted, it cost right around $80,000."