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Council OKs temp budget; still at odds

Ironton's City Council added some extra sand to the hourglass Monday but came no closer to bridging the ocean-sized rift between the two factions.

Following a weekend full of meetings that produced little progress, the group unanimously adopted a 1-month temporary budget to allow another 30 days to continue to come up with a 2005 budget. The group remains split 5-2 over whether to focus on cuts or to adopt some type of municipal fee - most recently $15 - now rather than waiting to put the issue in front of the voters.

Council Chairman Jim Tordiff begged the group to pass the $15 fee that has been defeated at least twice before, saying that fellow councilman Chuck O'Leary said it best last week.

"If we are wrong, we will only be wrong for 8 months," Tordiff said to quote O'Leary.

"I beg you. I downright beg you to pass (the fee) for a few months. Give these people what they need," Tordiff said. "Then I will go door to door, I will do whatever it takes to get the people to support it on the ballot."

Once again the fee was defeated 5-2. Plans for a budget workshop at 6 p.m. tonight are in question after several members said they would not be able to attend. At least four members must be present for it to be a legal meeting.

While Tordiff and O'Leary stand firm on one side of the line in the sand, councilmen Brent Pyles, Jesse Roberts, Bill Nenni, Bob Isaac and Richard Price remain on the other side on most issues. Several of the group has said they have become increasingly irritated by Tordiff's refusal to move on.

"I am worn out. We have talked about the same issues time and time again," Pyles said after the meeting, adding that the group does not believe that the fee is the answer and take exception to Tordiff's insistence on not letting the issue drop.

"There hasn't been any new ground plowed here, other than maybe the video (of poor equipment.) Council has taken these issues and other ideas into consideration and we will come up with a plan."

Audience members continue to get more and more frustrated at the lack of action and constant bickering. Because they were not on the special meeting agenda, neither the audience nor the mayor was allowed to address council.

That didn't stop them from expressing their opinions, though.

"We'll see you on the recall ballot, Jesse," one woman yelled out after the meeting. Several citizens have indicated that plans for an attempted recall are in motion but nothing concrete has been announced.

Tordiff has talked about the fee for the better part of the year and has been warning of upcoming financial doom for far longer.

Despite the fact that the municipal fees have been voted down in various forms at least six times, he said he continues to believe that it is the only answer to solve the city's $500,000 spending deficit, address the shortage in workforce and replace dangerously old equipment.

"The things we are trying to do now, put on a municipal fee, have much farther ramifications that just 2005," he said. "We all know the Local Government Funds will be cut by 20 percent in 2006. That is another $100,000 we will lose."

The opposing faction has said they have suggested other options but that Tordiff refuses to look elsewhere. Roberts questioned the need for so many meetings if Tordiff refuses to compromise on the fee.

"What are we going to discuss at the budget meeting that we haven't already discussed?" Roberts said.

The entire meeting will be aired on Ohio University Southern's channel 25 at 2, 4 and 8 p.m. today.