A former member of Walbridge Village Council continues to contest the legality of an administrative appointment made last May.
Cecil Adkins said last week an attorney he’s retained has sent a letter to Brian Ballenger, village solicitor, which questions whether Police Chief Ken Frost can also hold the position of village administrator.
Acting upon the recommendation of former mayor, Dan Wilczynski, village council in May unanimously approved the appointment of Frost to also assume the duties of administrator – a part-time position that had been vacant since February.
The position of police chief is full-time.
Adkins’ attorney, Albin Bauer, II, addressed a meeting of village council last month to challenge the appointment.
And in an earlier letter to Adkins, the attorney states he views the positions of police chief and village administrator as “…incompatible and therefore cannot legally be held simultaneously by one person.”
The appointment, Bauer argues, violates the intent of a village ordinance.
“Under Walbridge Codified Ordinance 123.03, the Village Administrator is authorized to approve invoices, contracts, and other expenditures up to $5,000 without council approval,” the letter to Adkins says. “Obviously, if the police chief is also the village administrator, it removes an important check on the chief’s ability to spend village funds on items for the police department. In other words, the mayor has basically given the police chief the power to spend up to $5,000 per invoice or contract without authority of council. There may be other reasons why the positions are incompatible based on duties that have been assigned to the administrator and the chief, but the one specifically referenced above is sufficient to disqualify the police chief from holding both positions.”
Adkins Thursday said the letter sent to Ballenger raises additional questions about the appointment.
Ballenger, who is also the prosecutor for the City of Northwood, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko - a member of village council when Chief Frost was appointed to the administrator’s post - said last week he was comfortable with the legality of the appointment, citing Ballenger’s research on the matter before council voted.
In neighboring Lake Township, Police Chief Mark Hummer also has the title of administrator.
Richard Welling, a township trustee, said the board of trustees consulted the Ohio Revised Code and the Wood County prosecutor’s office before approving the additional duties for the chief.
In Northwood, Police Chief Tom Cairl was named acting administrator last year while Mayor Mark Stoner conducted a search to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Dennis Recker, the former administrator.