Meeting nixed because no-shows

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 2004

The majority of Ironton's City Council was a no-show, so the special meeting was a no-go.

More than 30 city employees, union members and concerned citizens gathered in the Ironton City Center Wednesday for a special workshop called by Chairman Jim Tordiff to discuss city finances. One problem - Tordiff and Councilman Chuck O'Leary were the only members who showed up, meaning that there were not enough members present to hold a legal meeting. The audience went home disappointed.

"As a taxpayer in the city of Ironton, as a voter, I think it is a crying shame that we have all these people come down here to sit down and talk about the problems and then nobody shows up," Rick McKnight said to a round of applause.

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Tordiff urged everyone to come to tonight's 6 p.m. regular meeting, adding that he hopes council will go beyond just audience participation and allow for the free flow of ideas in the workshop-type of environment as he originally wanted.

After the meeting, the chairman said he believes the residents and employees understand the city's financial problems that include spending nearly $500,000 more than it brings in each year, dwindling funds and other financial burdens that may be on the horizon.

"I have spent quite a bit of time talking to the employees and the citizens and the overwhelming number of those people say, 'What is our plan?' 'What are we going to do?' Tordiff said. "Š We have to be proactive instead of reactive. This is a community issue not just a council issue."

Tordiff compared the city's financial state with River Valley Hospital as it neared collapse.

"More than frustration, I feel danger," he said. "I feel the city is in a very dangerous financial situation."

Willing to give the other councilmen the benefit of the doubt in regards to their attendance, Tordiff said he hopes that the citizens get some of the answers they seek tonight.

When contacted by phone late Wednesday, Councilman Jesse Roberts said he was unable to attend the special session but that residents should not confuse his absence with apathy.

"I had prior commitments," he said, adding that he knew several other councilmen were working and unable to adjust schedules for yet another meeting this week. "Since there is a regular meeting (tonight) and there was a finance meeting Monday, we are all aware of the financial situation. There was no reason to call a special meeting except that the chairman felt he had to call it to fit his schedule.

"There is nothing that could have transpired (Wednesday) that cannot transpire (tonight). Don't think this means council does not care, do not think this means council takes its responsibilities lightly."

So, everyone will try again tonight to consider an agenda that includes the final 2004 budget adjustments and a one-month temporary 2005 plan.