COLUMBIANA - Ten-year councilman Tom Ferguson is glad to be part of the "Good Old Boy" network.
Ferguson made the statement Tuesday during his last council meeting before retirement. He did not run for re-election this year and his seat will be filled in January by one of the newly elected councilmen, Ted Souder, Dan Bekar or Dick Simpson.
Ferguson said that during his time on council he has been targeted as part of the "Good Old Boy" network by people, whom he did not publicly identify.
The term has been used on Councilman Bryan Blakeman's personal website and in his campaign literature, and he has even used the term during council meetings.
Blakeman will take over as mayor in January.
"I thank the parties who have identified me as a Good Old Boy ... I'm going to accept that as an honor," Ferguson said.
In Ferguson eyes, the good old boys of the community built the city into what it is today. They are the ones who have stayed in the community or have returned after being away, he explained.
"I hope the good old boys will continue to serve this community because otherwise there will continue to be stalemates," he said.
One stalemate in particular had to do with the storm water system, which he believes needs to be addressed.
"Neither side could come to an agreement and it fell into the abyss," he said.
According to previous reports, in late December of 2010 council members voted 3-3 on legislation that moved roughly $23,000 set aside for renovations of the stormwater drainage system to the fire department for its expenses in 2011.
The move was proposed by Councilman Lowell Schloneger, and included as an amendment to the legislation setting the 2011 budget.
Mayor Dave Spatholt broke the tie in favor of the amendment.
According to the reports, Fire Chief Rick Garrity had approached council expressing concern about the lack of general fund money for his department in the 2011 budget.
He had reportedly told council that without help from the general fund the department would be operating completely off funds generated by a fire levy approved by voters in 2009.
The levy generated about $260,000 a year.
Prior to the December 2010 meeting council had passed an ordinance to put $67,000 aside for the stormwater improvement in 2011, but then-Finance Director Kevin Smith said that wouldn't be possible with a portion of the money going back to the fire department.
In May of 2011 Smith had said the city had about $167,000 set aside for the multi-million dollar project. Since then the city has not set aside much else.
"We can't seem to get a grip on taking care of that project," Ferguson said. "We owe it to the citizens of the community who are living in this flood zone."
According to the 2011 preliminary engineering report for the estimated $18 million project, the city has had storm sewer issues the last several years mostly in areas developed before the 1970s.
With that said, Ferguson thanked those who supported him on council and said he plans to continue attending the meetings.
"I enjoyed it ... this is the community I grew up in," he said.
He also said he enjoyed working with former city manager Keith Chamberlin and that he has "all the confidence in the world" in his replacement, Lance Willard.