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Belle Center gets new fiscal officer but strife lingers

Belle Center Council nearly made it through a meeting without a loud argument Thursday evening.




Despite a special session that ended with Village Administrator Gerald Houchin yelling at Mayor Rhonda Fulmer, and the mayor raising her voice in response, the council and mayor did iron out the pressing matter of who will handle the village’s financial affairs after Cindy Longbrake resigned her fiscal officer post as of Wednesday.

Following a 45-minute executive session that included an interview with the mayor’s appointee, they hired Chris Dinovo, a Bellefontaine resident who previously ran for city auditor and has 17 years of experience working in the state auditor’s office. He has most recently been working in the photo department of the Walgreens store in Bellefontaine.

The appointment was done on a temporary basis and council approved pay of $15 per hour up to 30 hours per week. They said they will consider returning the job to a salaried position once training is complete, a background check is conducted and other details are worked out.

“We need to function as a village and conduct business,” Council President Rick Bednarki said. “This is a temporary appointment and it’s just that — temporary.”

There was some discussion of training, and council approved up to 30 hours per week at $15 per hour.

But as Mayor Fulmer was about to call it an evening, Mr. Houchin broached the subject of hiring an additional full-time employee, which council approved at a previous meeting.

Mr. Houchin said he has a recommendation, but the mayor won’t present that person for council consideration.

“Do you want to keep the employees you’ve got? Because they’re not going to stay long,” he said loudly. “We’ve got to have this other man!”

The village administrator then stormed out of the room as Mayor Fulmer began offering her response in a loud voice.

The environment calmed as the mayor explained to council that she and Mr. Houchin do not agree on which of the three candidates who applied are of equal experience.Read the full story in Friday's Bellefontaine Examiner.


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