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In Dayton, Current Council Meets for Final Time

The current members sitting on Dayton’s City Council convened for the final time Tuesday night, but it was not quite the group dynamic officials and residents have come to expect over the last two years. A council that has become known for internal contention, conflicted interests, and strained decision­making was replaced Tuesday night with a courteous and efficient group that got right to business.
 
Tuesday marked the final meeting for a number of those who sit on the board: Councilwoman Penny Hurtt, Councilman Ron Gunning, who was appointed after Bobby Allen stepped down from Council earlier this year, and Mayor Ken Rankle, the 12-year incumbent who was voted out of office last month, defeated by current council member Virgil Boruske.
 
Councilwoman Cathy Volter, who was also defeated in November’s elections, was out of town and could not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
 
Hurtt took the opportunity before the close of Tuesday’s meeting to thank the council, city staff, and city residents, but also to make a point about the cost of taking on public office.
 
“As a member of council, you open yourself to public scrutiny,” Hurtt said, pointing to social media as a tool many have used, in her opinion, to manipulate facts and spin issues. “There are people who take great pleasure in twisting words and actions."
 
After reiterating her gratitude to her peers and constituents, Hurtt concluded, “I’m looking forward to just being a plain citizen again."
 
Hurtt announced she would not be running for re­election before the city’s primary elections were held in May.
 
Councilman­-elect Joe Neary also voiced his gratitude to those who will not be returning to the bench. “I’ve been coming to these meetings for eight years, and I’ve seen some doozies,” he said, “but tonight we’re losing a lot of experience in this city."
 
Neary applauded the current council for the progress the city has made over the last two years, including the launch of the Manhattan Harbour project and keeping the city free of long-­term debt.
 
“You’re going to be a tough act to follow,” Neary concluded, “but you’ve got Dayton on the right path."
 
During Tuesday’s meeting, Rankle led council through an agenda quickly that included the following orders of business:
 
­ James Read and Brendan Sullivan, of James Read and Associates, offered preliminary glimpse into what the newest piece of the Manhattan Harbour development might look like, including positioning and design elements of the buildings, as well as what they might be equipped to house.
 
­ At City Administrator Michael Giffen’s recommendation, council voted to approve the city’s traditional year­end bonus for city employees. Giffen mentioned the bonuses usually come in the amount of $100 per employee, making sure to note that these bonuses are already accounted for in the city budget.
 
­ Council also approved releasing payment to Bluegrass Paving, who has been doing roadway repair in the city throughout the fall. The cost of the paving work done came to roughly $225,000, which was a little more than $13,000 over budget. The work came in over budget, Giffen said, because a portion of upper Sixth Ave. gave way during construction and required additional repairs.
 
­ Council voted to approve incoming council member Ben Baker as the city’s representative on the regional OKI Regional Council of Governments for 2015.
 
­ Police Chief Scott O’Brien and Fire Chief Mike Auteri offered holiday safety reminders for residents.
 
­ Dayton Main Street Manager Anthony Cadle reminded council and residents about LightUp Dayton, the city’s holiday celebration scheduled for Sunday Dec. 7.
 
­ Council heard the second reading, and voted to approve, an ordinance that would allow certain residences within the central business district (CBD). Per the ordinance, such residences will be restricted to second and third floor and rear units on a CBD property.
 
The next Dayton City Council will convene for the first time on Jan. 6th.
 
Story & photo by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor