Romine reflects positively on his role with the Columbia City Council
Romine resigns from city council due to state law prohibiting him from voting on city budget
(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Ben Romine, shown above at left speaking with a constituent during a council meeting in 2015, announced last week that he was resigning from the council because his role as a city firefighter prevented him from voting as a council member on the city budget this fall.
By Jennifer Zartman Romano
Rather than bide his time and collect a paycheck without fully participating in the business of the city, Columbia City Councilman Ben Romine decided it was time to resign.
Effective last Friday, Romine resigned as the Southwest District representative on the Columbia City Council. Due to a state law that went into effect on July 1, 2015, Romine, a volunteer firefighter with the Columbia City Fire Department, would have been unable to vote on matters pertaining to the city budget. Romine learned in the first year of his term that his role as a firefighter would prevent him from seeking re-election, but the legislation preventing him from voting during this last half of his term came as something of a surprise.
"This is something I've been looking at for about 60 days," Romine said, researching the angles of the law and seeking advice from the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns as well as city attorney Marcia McNagny.
"I would have showed up every two weeks and abstained from voting and I didn't feel good about that," said Romine. "I knew I couldn't run again or I'd have to resign from the fire department."
Romine has been a firefighter with the Columbia City Fire Department for the past 10 years and prior to that, served as a firefighter on the Thorncreek Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Romine is an accountant and for the past 3 and a half years, he's brought his skill as a financial analyst to the city council -- a skillset that will be missed.
"I've enjoyed (serving on the council)," Romine said. "I'm someone that believes that you should have another occupation (outside of politics). You bring your skillset to the council and when it's time to move on, you move on."
Romine describes his experience on the city council as a positive one.
"I don't think people realize how long it takes to get things done because the process takes time," he said. Romine particularly enjoyed working to revise city ordinances. "I spent a lot of time re-writing ordinances with the city attorney. Many of them were out of date and chopped up."
"We have some really good department heads that make council's job easy," said Romine. Romine was particularly appreciative of city community development director Jeff Walker, calling him a great resource.
Looking over his accomplishments during his term, Romine took pride in his role with the Columbia City Redevelopment Commission.
"I'm most satisfied with the buildings that were addressed," he said. "History will show if the way we addressed them was the best way, but when I came into office there were six properties we needed to deal with. We addressed four and we're in the process of addressing the other two."
Romine's last day as a city council member was last Friday, July 24. He will continue to serve on the Redevelopment Commission through the end of December 2015.
A caucus to fill the remaining months of Romine's term is being planned by Whitley County GOP chairman Matt Boyd and will be held in the month of August per state law.