Reduced Bridgeport Council Finally Meets

BRIDGEPORT – Village Council achieved a quorum Tuesday for the first time since Belmont County Probate Judge J. Mark Costine suspended Councilmen Ben Lenz and David Smith from their elected positions last month.

Costine’s temporary restraining order came after 10 residents filed a lawsuit alleging the pair – both members of the Bridgeport Fire and Emergency Squad – repeatedly voted, as members of council, on matters pertaining to the squad, including voting to hire themselves as EMTs.

Village Solicitor Mark Thomas started the meeting Tuesday by urging council members not to discuss the suspended councilmen or the lawsuit.

The reduced council hired a new fiscal officer, who later questioned the village’s intent to take on $700,000 in debt for a project to clear contaminants from one of its water wells.

The four council members present – Richard Riley, Marvin Husarik, Howard “Jim” Porter and Carole Lyle – unanimously voted to hire Fred Brunstetter to fill the position left vacant when the past fiscal officer, Judy Oberdick, resigned earlier this summer. Brunstetter will be paid $12,000 annually, retroactive to Aug. 5 – the date he started training for the job with interim fiscal officer John Morgan.

Riley said Morgan also should be compensated for his time training Brunstetter. But Thomas told council it could not pay two people with the title “fiscal officer.” He suggested members instead retain Morgan as a part-time consultant to work with Brunstetter as needed.

Council voted 4-0 to hire Morgan as a part-time consultant.