Newton Falls council debates committee appointments

NEWTON FALLS — Village council on Thursday may or may not have approved council committee appointments, depending on whom you ask.

Village council by a 3-2 vote acted on the 2021 council representative appointments to various boards and commissions.

While Law Director Joseph Fritz said the motion had passed, Mayor Ken Kline said based on council committee appointment approval in 2019, a vote of 4-1 was needed. That’s based on a decision Fritz and former Mayor Lyle Waddell had given to council that year.

Voting in favor Thursday of the appointments were council members Tarry Alberini, Sandra Breymaier and Adam Zimmerman while voting against were John Baryak and Tesa Spletzer.

Spletzer said she should fill the seats of former 3rd Ward councilman Lyle Waddell and also recommended serving on finance and audit committees.

Baryak also supported Spletzer for the finance committee noting she holds a master’s degree in education.

“We need to see changes on these committees. Some people stay on the same committee for years,” said Baryak, who indicated he should be on economic development.

Fritz said Alberini was appointed to finance when he began a new term on council and can remain on finance until his term expires at the end of 2021.

Kline said many of the committees stayed the same but noted Spletzer, who came onto council late last year, was filling Waddell’s spots; and Zimmerman, who was appointed last summer to council, filled former 1st Ward Councilman Zachary Svette’s positions. Svette resigned last year.

Kline said because the vote was not 4-1 as it was in 2019 when the committee appointments were passed, there are no new committee appointments. He said he reviewed meeting minutes from 2019, when committee appointments were being made.

“This same situation was handled in 2019 and we were all told by the mayor and law director we needed a 4-1 vote. I looked at the minutes and it is exactly what is going on now,” said Kline, who indicated he was a council member in 2019 and Waddell was the mayor.

Fritz said the 3-2 vote is enough to pass the committee appointments and said he will look at the 4-1 vote in 2019 and the circumstances that occurred then.

Alberini said he supports Fritz’s legal opinion on the matter.

Kline said he will get another legal opinion and recommended the appointments motion be placed back on the agenda for the Feb. 1 council meeting.

“No matter what, we are on council to serve the residents. Sometimes the road is bumpy and not easy. There is a false narrative that we are incompetent, which is not the case,” Alberini said.

In other business, council by a 2-0-3 vote approved a resolution to show appreciation to organizations and individuals who volunteered and organized events to make the holiday season merrier for residents.

Baryak and Spletzer, who sponsored the resolution, voted in favor while Alberini, Breymaier, and Zimmerman all abstained.

Village Manager David Lynch said whenever there is “a feel-good resolution” to recognize someone or some group then all council members’ names are on the resolution.

“The people we are honoring are volunteers who organized the events at the holidays to make the holidays better for the community,” he said.

Groups who helped at the holidays took part in tree lighting, food distribution, and Christmas gifts for children and senior citizens.

“We thank all of them. This is what makes Newton Falls great,” Kline said.

Also, Spletzer said when she went door-to-door recently in the 3rd Ward, many residents complained about the Zoom council meetings.

“There are people who are not happy with the Zoom meetings and how they can’t hear or have problems getting on the meetings,” she said.

Kline said the Zoom meetings were to continue through February.

“We have that large building we paid all that money for where we can social distance that we are not even using. We need to do what is best for citizens of Newton Falls and be in the new building,” he said, referring to a former church purchased last year.


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