City Council gets a new member

    The Monticello City Council is back to full force.
After nearly two months of operating with a reduced number of board members because of the resignation of Councilman Tom Vogelgesang, the council last week approved the appointment of a replacement for the Group 2 seat.
He is Steve Rissman, a longtime Jefferson County resident and former mayor of Monticello.
The council approved Rissman’s appointment by a 4-0 vote on Tuesday evening, June 6, following Mayor Troy Avera’s recommendation and assurance that the position had been advertised.
Rissman next engaged in a bit of history telling.
Calling himself an “ideas guy”, he recalled his time as Monticello’s mayor in the 1980s, when the mayor was only able to cast tie breaking votes and functioned
more as a magistrate on traffic citations. Until the court eliminated that function of mayors, he said.
“I initiated a lot of ideas,” continued Rissman, who most recently served as a volunteer on the Monticello Local Planning Agency.
Among the ideas that he said he generated in the 1980s were eliminating the office of elected mayor plus two positions from what was then an eight-member council. Rissman said his proposal to eliminate the mayorship got him written up in many national papers at the time, as it was unheard of that a politician would propose eliminating his own position.
In the end, he said, the elimination of the elected mayor and two council positions “saved the city a lot of money without costing taxpayers.”
He also, Rissman said, came up with the necessary $1,200 to bring city water to the Apron Factory on US 19 after the council had refused to approve the expenditure. His action, he said, had saved 75 jobs at the Apron Factory that would have otherwise gone elsewhere.
Rissman noted that at his earlier time on the council then, members had been paid  $1,200 annually for serving, versus the $5,000 annually nowadays.
He asked that his council salary be $1,200 annually going forth and that the balance of $3,800 be used to help reduce property taxes. His announcement elicited laughs from the other council members, but no takers.
Vogelgesang, who served several terms as Monticello mayor, resigned on April 14 to accept a new job in Tallahassee.
Last month, Avera proposed another candidate for the Group 2 seat. The council, however, rejected that recommendation, one of the issues being that the position had not been advertised.
Because Rissman was leaving the city for about a month on the day following the meeting and a judge couldn’t be gotten on such short notice, City Attorney Bruce Leinback administered the oath of office.