Council Addresses Grant Writer’s Moral Claim

by Kelly Choate on March 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

The Zanesville City Council is discussing a moral claim for almost $75,000 filed against the city by a grant writer.

Rob Guentter of RFG Associates is requesting payment for completing a federal grant application to help pay for the purchase of a new ladder truck for the Zanesville Fire Department.  Former Mayor Howard Zwelling signed a contract with Guentter in January 2011, but Councilman David Tarbert said Zwelling never asked for council’s formal approval before signing the contract.

"It allows for publication, it allows for public participation, it allows for question and answer discussion," said Tarbert.  "That was completely bypassed in this case.  We had one person sign a contract and attempt to bind the entire city, and it just short-circuited the entire process."

Tarbert said the problem now is that neither the current mayor or current treasurer has the legal authority to approve the contract.  He said the firm was successful in securing the grant, but the application could’ve likely been completed by city employees.

"We have our own in-house grant writers that would’ve done this for no charge to the city, so do we now have an obligation to at least discuss whether or not we should pay $75,000 for something that we may not have approved previously?" said Tarbert.

Council will address the claim again at the next meeting.  In other news, council passed two ordinances declaring outdoor areas at City Hall and Secrest Auditorium to be non-smoking places.