Guentter Moral Claim Defeated by Council

by Josh Overholser on July 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

An ordinance allowing a moral claim for Rob Guentter was defeated by the Zanesville City Council Monday night.

The final vote was four in favor, three against, and two abstained. The ordinance needed five yes votes for passage. If passed, the amended ordinance would have given $50,700 to Guentter as payment for a grant he wrote resulting in the City of Zanesville’s acquisition of a ladder truck for the fire department. Despite the fact that Guentter entered into an invalid contract with former Mayor Butch Zwelling that should have come before council, Councilwoman Ann Gildow, who voted yes for the claim, said the rate requested was fair and that payment shouldn’t have been held up over a technicality.

"I still feel bad that the people who worked on writing the grant aren’t compensated," Gildow said. "It’s just my opinion, and clearly, we went through a legal process, so we all have to get on with life."

Councilman David Tarbert had been against the moral claim from the start and said the issue wasn’t really a "moral" claim at all.

"This is a legal claim, not a moral claim," Tarbert said. "This has always been a legal claim. There was an illegal contract–an illegal agreement–between the former administration and Mr. Guentter’s firm. When that didn’t get paid without council’s approval, that put it into a legal status. So what should happen here is that Mr. Guentter should get the value of the services that he performed. That value, in my opinion, should be determined by an arbitrator or a judge after listening to other grant writers and determine whether or not this amount that he’s charging us is a fair and valid amount to charge a city for this type of work."

Guentter declined WHIZ’s request for an interview following Monday night’s meeting.