By BRIAN LESTER
BLUFFTON — Council President Mitch Kingsley announced his resignation from office Monday, the second departure of a top village official this month.
Kingsley’s resignation as council president is effective immediately, but he plans to remain on council for a few more months.
Kingsley was set to assume the office of mayor this summer from Mayor Dennis Gallant, who announced earlier this month he would step down this summer to take a job in Sandusky.
Kingsley said his decision was based on changes that are on the horizon for the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System.
Currently, the system requires that a public employee only have 10 years of service to be eligible. Starting in 2015, that number will rise to 20 years.
Kingsley, who was first appointed to council in 2000, said he has been a public employee for a little over 13 years.
He said he decided to resign as council president now so that he will not be in line to become mayor. He has not decided on when he will resign from council.
“I felt like this was the best for everyone involved in order to allow for a smooth transition,” Kingsley said.
Judy Augsburger, elected to council last November, was named council president Monday and will become the mayor of Bluffton once Gallant resigns. She will serve out the term, which lasts through 2015.
Most council members supported Kingsley’s decision to stay on as a council member for the time being, but Councilman Roger Warren did not think it was in the best interest of the village.
However, Councilman Joe Selhorst said, “His experience and knowledge are valuable, especially if something were to come up where we could use it. Mitch has done a great job and he’s a valuable resource.”
Once Augsburger becomes mayor, council will have 30 days to fill her council seat. Council can allow Augsburger to pick her replacement, or council can interview candidates before making a decision.
Kingsley suggested that former Councilman Dave Steiner be appointed to fill the seat.
Separately, the damage from last Tuesday’s major water leak at the town hall, caused by a broken sprinkler head on the third floor, is not as bad as first believed, according to village officials.
Council met Monday in the community room on the third floor, although the wood floor has been torn out of the room. The building is expected to be open today for business as usual.
Village Administrator James Mehaffie said the amount of damage is still being assessed, especially in regard to computers and servers, and electrical service inside the building. Another big concern is with future corrosion of fixtures.
The broken sprinkler head sent a signal to the building’s fire pumping system that water was needed. Mehaffie on Monday said it was estimated about 2,000 gallons of water poured into the building before the Fire Department arrived and shut off the water.
Separately, an amendment to the sidewalk ordinance passed after a third reading. Under the amendment, the village will pay for the cost of installing sidewalks in areas where they are needed. Originally, residents were to be required to pay for installation.
However, residents who receive a notice to repair or replace their sidewalks will still have to pay for those costs.