City council fixes appropriations timing issue, hears committee reports
By Sarah Einselen
Just one piece of legislation came before Galion city council at the regular meeting Tuesday night, March 13. The ordinance, reducing 2012 appropriations in several funds, was discussed briefly before unanimous passage.
The $934,000 reductions, almost all from the electric improvement fund, were a timing issue, according to city manager Gene Toy. “Nothing is being added to or taken away from,” he said. It’s just the difference between paying an invoice in 2011 and paying it this year.
At-large council member Cathy George said two citizens had approached her on different topics. One asked whether it would be possible to remove the stoplight at South Boston Street and Harding Way West, which George agreed to look into. The other, a property owner on Galion’s north side, had had a window hit twice by the mystery BB-gun wielder or wielders. Council members informed the public that the police are gathering information to stop the BB gun incidents.
George also said several low-interest loans and outright grants were available to fund a city energy audit or install more energy-efficient or “green” equipment like solar heating and wind power.
Under committee reports, finance committee chairman Roberta Wade reported that the data on city departmental electric usage had been compiled and encouraged Toy to submit it to Sawvel, the city’s electric consultant, for further review.
Council president Gail Baldinger said it would behoove the city to also determine the water and sewer usage of each city department before changing electric rates based on the analysis. He also thought Sawvel would probably not be any more help than it already has been.
Toy agreed and suggested that he and city finance director Karen Walters could take electric, water and sewer data, combined with information from Sawvel, and effectively present it to the finance committee without having to pay Sawvel further consulting fees.
Wade agreed that the committee would consider the electric data and possibilities at a meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 19.
The planning, zoning and utilities committee will discuss a zoning ordinance regarding tattoo parlors at an upcoming committee meeting. The alley vacation on Atwood Street will proceed to public hearing next. Committee chairman Tom Fellner will meet with Julie Fogle, pastor at First Presbyterian Church, on March 14 to discuss farmers market regulations that would affect a summer farmers market held on that church’s property.
The parks and recreation committee discussed how to continue managing the East Park shelter cost-effectively. A local church is currently using it free of charge each week to provide free meals to residents around the park, but with the cost of utilities and maintenance, the city can’t afford to do so indefinitely. Vandalism and broken lights at the shelter add to the maintenance costs.
Normal rental fees are $30 per use with a $25 deposit, refundable after an event is over and the shelter has been left in satisfactory condition.
“It’s kind of hard to let people use it for nothing if it costs so much to run it,” said committee chairman Ken Bodkins. He will be meeting with the church to negotiate a compromise.
The laws and ordinances committee met immediately after the council meeting to further discuss an ordinance regarding contractor licensing and to take up two previously tabled ordinances. One of those possible ordinances addressed how to track scrap metal when it’s turned in to local recycling vendors and the other addressed distracted driving.
During city manager’s comments, Toy said the Taylor Road composting facility will return to its normal seasonal operating hours: every third Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and same hours on the day before. The facility runs on a March through November seasonal schedule.
The city has a letter of intent from MedFlight regarding the lease of the house at the municipal airport and will be negotiating the lease terms. Arrangements are also being made with the airport’s fuel vendor. City law director Reese Mills informed council that the airport house annexation passed last month by council had been approved by the Richland County Commissioners this past Thursday.
All council members were present for the meeting. They will meet next on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public is encouraged to attend.