• 50°

Mayor has plans for village

COAL GROVE – Tom McKnight has begun putting ideas to paper now that he’s slated to become the next village mayor Jan.

Friday, November 19, 1999

COAL GROVE – Tom McKnight has begun putting ideas to paper now that he’s slated to become the next village mayor Jan. 1.

"I’m getting thoughts together, really, seeing how I’m going to go into this and how to handle things," McKnight said.

McKnight, 62, was village mayor from 1976 to 1990 and is retired from Ashland Oil. He won election again Nov. 2, outpacing two other candidates with 65 percent of the vote.

Taking a close look at village spending, improving sewer system maintenance and urging public involvement top the next mayor’s to-do list.

Prior to the election, financial statements showed several areas where costs could be cut, McKnight said.

"There’s needless overtime, and vehicles that village employees use can be used better, like we don’t need to provide them a vehicle for lunch or to and from home," he said, but added that some utility superintendents and staff do need a vehicle around the clock.

"Basically, I’m not going to be harsh on anyone but we all have a job to do," he said. "We will have safety meetings. We had them when I was mayor and we will have them again, and I want to get the union involved."

McKnight also wants to limit village employee overtime to emergencies only.

Until the administration looks at the finances, which might take two months or two weeks, using overtime as a last resort would be prudent, he said.

There are enough employees right now to handle the work load, McKnight said.

"And I don’t forsee any layoffs, although I haven’t had a chance to analyze the entire appropriations and expenditures (of the village)," he said. "That will be a determination council and myself will have to make, but we have to operate the village like a business – as efficiently as we possibly can."

Also, the new administration likely will make sure that employee wages are not linked to village tax revenue.

"You can never base salaries on taxes," McKnight said.

If they are linked to taxes, then when businesses shut down and tax revenue decreases, layoffs almost always follow, he said.

McKnight wants to place an emphasis next year on utility maintenance, like on the village sewer system.

"Frequent, standard maintenance is cheaper," he said.

The sewer system was designed for use with about 750 holding tanks that require scheduled pumping on sewer lines off the main, McKnight said.

"We probably need to pick up in the area of servicing those tanks and the lift stations may need a look," he said.

McKnight also wants more village residents to attend monthly council meetings, or just stop by village hall frequently.

"This will be my first look at things and I want to go in to evaluate things and see how they go and then take action as necessary," he said. "And we have to let the public in on it.

"They’re either going to say Tom McKnight you’re wrong or Tom McKnight you’re right, but you just need to let the people know."

Meanwhile, the current village administration has at least three regular meetings left this year, which causes McKnight some concern, he said.

"I’ll just have to sit back and see what they’re going to do," he said. "If they continue to do things that might possibly foul up the new administration that’s one thing, but if it’s normal business until they leave office, well, that’s the way it should be."

But the administration will work with what’s on the village books Jan. 1, he said.

"I’m a stubborn old cuss," he said. "We’ll be all right as long as we know who we’re doing it for. We’re doing it for the people and that’s it – that’s not politics."