On Dec. 2, the Gambier Village Council held the final monthly meeting of Kachen Kimmell’s term as mayor. In the next meeting in January of 2020, Councilman and mayor-elect Leeman Kessler ’04 will step into office. This meeting involved the resolution of a number of measures as the Village Council prepares for the end of the year.
The first official item of business was an ordinance to amend the salaries of elected officials. As proposed, the ordinance would raise the mayor’s salary by 78 percent, from $9,000 per year to $16,000 per year. This was a hotly contested issue—during the previous meeting in November, the Council spent nearly an hour debating the value of the raise, and whether one was necessary to begin with. Several councilmembers had argued that $12,000 was a more reasonable salary, given the extent of the mayor’s duties, while others maintained that a salary of $16,000 would better reflect the mayor’s importance to the Village.
At this meeting, Councilwoman Betsy Heer opened the discussion by restating the proposed change to the ordinance. “In the spirit of trying to be cooperative but not going for the full 78 percent increase over the salary, I would once again move that we amend the salary line from $16,000 to $12,000,” Heer said.
Phil Brooks proposed a compromise at $14,000, halfway between Heer’s suggestion of $12,000 and the original plan of $16,000. Heer reminded him that the $12,000 sum was already a compromise.
“But surely you realize [$9,000] is a little low?” Brooks asked.
“To be honest with you, based on what other mayors make in the area, no, I do not,” Heer said. She amended her statement: “Yes, I agree with you that nine is low. But I still move [for] $12,000.”
The movement passed and the Council adopted the new mayoral salary of $12,000, with only Liz Forman voting against the motion, and the mayor-elect abstaining.
There were several other items on the ballot, but none of them provoked as much disagreement. The Council voted unanimously to declare a fiscal “state of emergency” so that the Village could allocate the funds to pay its bills by January. They also unanimously agreed to declare the Community Center a “warming and cooling center” — a structure for public use when outside temperatures become dangerous. It had already fulfilled this purpose for the Village, albeit unofficially.
One item not discussed was the soon-to-be-vacant Council seat currently occupied by Mayor-elect Kessler. In the January 2020 Council meeting, Kessler will step into his new role as mayor, leaving a seat on the Council open. Under Village procedures, this means that the Council will elect a new council member during the meeting, and anyone who has lived in the Village for at least one year is eligible.
No Kenyon student has ever been elected to the Village Council, though several have put their names forth in the past. Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman encourages any student interested in Village politics to attend the Jan. 13 meeting and consider entering their name for election.