Sunbury mayor's challenge coins purchase disputed by city resident

This dual photo shows each side of a new Sunbury City challenge coin.

SUNBURY — Sunbury Mayor Kurt Karlovich is using his budgeted marketing money to promote the city and he started by purchasing challenge coins to pass out to individuals who are out doing their part in the community.

However, the $507 purchase was questioned by city resident Victoria Rosancrans at Monday's City Council meeting, sparking other council members to ask why Karlovich's name appears on the marketing tool.

A challenge coin is a tool traditionally used in the military to honor a person for a special achievement, according to various military websites.

"Why is your name on it and why would it be on it?" Rosancrans asked. "Why wouldn't it just be about the city of Sunbury."

Karlovich explained that he is using the coins to help promote the city and that it's well within his rights to use his $4,500 line item anyway he chooses to promote Sunbury.

"I am the elected representative for the city," Karlovich said. "I am always out and about in the community and challenge coins are an extremely special symbol that promotes morale and togetherness. It is a special recognition from the mayor to the individual who is out doing their part for our community."

Karlovich said the coins are not going to just be given out to anyone but instead they are given to those who are going above and beyond for the city.

Karlovich said he already gave a coin to a new business about to open and to a resident he saw picking up trash on a city street. Karlovich who served in the Army said he received challenge coins from high ranking military officials and all of them had that representative's name and rank on the coin.

"Can any of us council members get coins with our names on it and walk around and hand them out?" Councilman Jim Eister asked.

Rosancrans asked solicitor Joel Wiest if Karlovich having his name on the coin was legal. Wiest said anyone can put their name on anything but he would have to research marketing tools.

Jody Ocker said she was unaware of the coins, but when she became aware they were purchased she thought it was a good idea.

"When I was in the military, these challenge coins were special to receive," Ocker said. "I think it is a good idea and will help promote the city."

City resident Josh Brosious said he understands what the mayor is trying to do but would have rather seen just the city symbol on the coin.

"I just believe it needs to represent the city rather than an individual or body of people," he said.

City Treasurer Kevin Troup said Karlovich has a budget line for marketing and he can spend the money the way he sees fit.

Karlovich said he requested quotes from various challenge coin makers and he went with the cheapest bid with the best design. Karlovich said he purchased 100 of them.

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