BELMONT – 2016 got off to a rough start in the village of Belmont. At the Tuesday, Jan. 5 meeting, newly-elected Mayor Stan Sobel announced that no action could be taken because the village had only one council member and no fiscal officer after the recent resignation of Paula Fankhauser.
Sobel and councilman Dan Scott were sworn in at the meeting, and Sobel made a plea for anyone interested in the fiscal officer position or a council seat to contact the village. The positions will be advertised, as required by law, and the village must wait 30 days before appointing anyone to those positions.
In the  meantime,  Village Solicitor Lindsey Ralston will contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Auditor’s Office to seek advice. Ralston was to also ask state officials if Belmont could receive assistance from Bethesda’s fiscal officer Rick Burkhead.
Sobel said he had already sought advice from Bethesda and the Belmont County Auditor’s office.
In addressing the large crowd, Sobel said he had reached out to the council members and the fiscal officer after being elected as mayor in November, telling them he looked forward to working with them. He said not everyone responded to his letter and he did not know what to expect going into Tuesday’s meeting.
In response to a question from a resident, Sobel said he was not sure what could be done between now and the next council meeting to get the village back to where payroll, paying bills, and other village business could resume.
Sobel said the February meeting (usually the first Tuesday of each month) may be delayed due to the state requirement to advertise the fiscal officer position for 30 days and wait 30 days before appointing council members.
Ralston noted that potential council members are required to have resided within the village limits for at least one year. She said renters can serve on council, however, those who own property in the village must also reside within the village. Those interested in serving on council are asked to submit a letter of interest.
Sobel said that the fiscal officer is no longer required to live within the community, so applications for that position will be accepted from those residing outside Belmont.
Sobel stressed transparency and encouraged the public to attend meetings so that they could express their concerns and be informed of council decisions.
Sobel also thanked former mayor Richard Thompson for his excellent guidance over the previous 15 years.