WARREN - The city's effort to get a council vote on the purchase of the Gibson Building passed as an emergency - which would have required a single reading - was denied Wednesday when Councilman James Valesky, D-at large, voted against pushing it through.
Valesky said there was no reason for City Council to pass legislation that would place the city in a $2.5 million debt without going through the full three readings.
To allow legislation to pass as an emergency, at least eight members of council must approve a suspension of the rules. There were eight members of council at Wednesday's special meeting. Councilman Fiore Dippolito and Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold did not attend. They could not be reached for comment.
Valesky told the administration that he believes each council member should receive copies of whatever surveys that were done on the building.
"My vote does not mean I may not eventually support the purchase," Valesky said. "I still believe this is the right thing to do, but I want make sure there are no surprises. I want to be fiscally responsible to the people we serve."
Mayor Doug Franklin said the administration was advised by its bond counsel to have the council vote on the purchase of the Gibson Building itself, not just the authorization to sell bonds for the purchase of a building.
Council during its last meeting voted to approve selling up to $3 million in bonds for the purchase of a building. The building was not identified in that legislation.
However, council, during executive sessions, discussed several locations that could have been updated, leased or purchased, including the Gibson Building.
"There is nothing in this authorization than what was already agreed to by council," Franklin said. "We had discussions about this building in executive session. We've had more discussion on this building than any other legislation I have been involved with."
Franklin says the administration will provide any information at its disposal to council regarding the acquisition of the building.
Councilman Greg Bartholomew, D-4th Ward, said he knew some council members had concerns about the building, but he believed they would vote for the suspension of rules and then have a discussion before a vote.
"I believe people should vote their conscience," Bartholomew said. "I did not talk to Mr. Valesky before the vote, so I don't know his reasoning for the vote."
Bartholomew said he attempted to call the city's building inspector to ask what he found out about the building, but did not get a call back.
"I figured if there was anything to be concerned about, like a bad foundation, we would have been informed by the administration," he said.
Franklin said although the legislation provides the city 90 days to complete the purchase agreement, beginning Oct. 1, the city would like to complete it as quickly as possible so employees in the income tax, community development and health departments can begin moving from their current location at 418 S. Main St. S.W.
"We're just going to have more discussion," Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-7th Ward, said after the meeting.