Lack of quorum keeps Portage chief on short hours


PORTAGE — The lack of a quorum at Monday’s council meeting delayed reinstating the police chief’s hours.

Councilmembers Marcia Wolford, John Jividen and Floyd Wilson were prepared to make a motion giving Chief
Bob Bartz 40 hours a week. His hours were cut to 20 a week last month.
However, council couldn’t take any action — not even approving the minutes — because it lacked a quorum.

Tamara Sharp, Jay Sockman and Doug Maas were absent. Mayor Mark Wolford said Sockman was taking a planned
vacation; Maas and Sharp called the village office this afternoon and said they were ill. Sharp’s
husband, Ron, who is the village administrator, was also not at the meeting.
At the June 15 meeting, Sharp, Sockman and Maas voted to cut Bartz’s hours from 40 to 20 a week, saying
the police department was losing thousands of dollars a month. Bartz is not considered full time, since
the village doesn’t pay him benefits. There are six part-time officers who work another 42 hours a week.

Wolford and Jividen disagreed, saying they wanted the finance committee to look at making other cuts and
that the numbers they were given didn’t add up. Wilson was not at that meeting.
After Monday’s meeting, Wilson said he did not support cutting Bartz’s hours.
“The chief would have kept his hours, if it would have been up to me,” Wilson said. “We were going to
bring it up and try to get a reversal of his hours.”
Marcia Wolford said it doesn’t make sense to cut any hours in police, which is the only village
department capable of generating revenue. Portage was put into fiscal emergency by the state auditor in
“Of course it costs us to provide services. Fortunately we have a mayor’s court to recoup some of those
costs,” she said.
Mayor Wolford has said if a tie vote comes to him, he would keep the chief working 40 hours.
“Sooner or later we are going to have to have a quorum,” he said.
Residents at Monday’s meeting were furious about the lack of a quorum and by the exit of Clerk-Treasurer
Bruce Shepherd who left after the roll was called.
John Foos said his leaving was unprofessional. “I don’t think it’s asking to much for him to give a
Gary Deutschman said Shepherd’s pay should be cut in half. Solicitor Paul Skaff said changes could be
made to the clerk’s salary by council — but they wouldn’t take effect until the next election.
Lisa King said council’s action last month to cut Bartz’s hours were like a homeowner coming up short on
the cable bill for the month, and deciding to sell his house.
“There could have been so many things looked at and there weren’t,” King said, suggesting a part-time
employee who mows be eliminated.
Bartz said he was going to go against the council vote from last month, which limits him to
administrative work, and patrol the village when he is working his 20 hours.
His remarks were met with a round of applause.
“I do know one thing. We have an election in November and there are a lot of seats up,” Mayor Wolford
The seats of Jividen, Sharp, Sockman and Maas are up; it’s not clear if they are running for re-election
as they were appointed to their positions when other council members quit. The filing deadline is Aug.
20 with the Wood County Board of Elections.
Photo caption: Portage Village Hall on Walnut Street (Sentinel-Tribune photo)

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