City budget items questioned

By David J. Coehrs -

Mike Prior, INTV station manager, requested additional funding for equipment during Monday’s Wauseon City Council meeting.

Mike Prior, INTV station manager, requested additional funding for equipment during Monday’s Wauseon City Council meeting.

Wauseon City Council on Monday approved the city’s nearly $13.4 million 2016 budget, but not before Councilor Shane Chamberlin questioned several line item appropriations that increased from last year.

The largest jump he mentioned was in the Parks and Recreation Department wage appropriation, from $88,000 in 2013 to a 2016 request for $161,000. Public Service Director Dennis Richardson explained the department is returning to a system of two full-time staff members.

Chamberlin also asked for the reason behind the fire department’s request for $13,500 in its “miscellaneous” line item, a significant boost from $8,000 last year. Fire Chief Rick Sluder said the department is implementing a program that will provide annual physicals for all staff members. Sluder said the program is being initiated out of concern for high instances of cancer in the fire services due to exposure to burning materials.

Another item catching Chamberlin’s eye was a $37,000 request within the city’s water revenue fund. Finance Director Jamie Giguere told him the money would be used for upgrades in software used for billing purposes.

The councilor gave kudos to Giguere’s and Code Administrator Tom Hall’s departments for submitting budget proposals decreased from last year’s amounts.

In other budget news, the city’s Finance Committee will meet Dec. 17 to approve a recommendation to raise the 2016 INTV line item appropriation from $40,000 back to last year’s total of $54,000. Mike Prior, INTV station manager, told the council Monday the station’s cameras are about 15 years old and need replacements to offer better service.

Councilor Jon Schamp reported that last year, in addition to the city’s contribution, the station received $9,000 in sponsorship income, $2,000 in video sales, and $500 in donations, for a total of $65,500.

Mayor Kathy Huner said she supports INTV updates, since revenue provided to the station from Wauseon schools, where it is based, and from donations has decreased.

The line item will likely be amended at the council’s Jan. 4 meeting.

Council members suspended the rule of three readings and passed the $13,383,559 budget on emergency.

In department reports:

• Regional Planning Director David Wright said two downtown business owners, Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home and Sunshine Communities, have gone through the final contract stage with the Fulton County Commissioners for improvements through the Wauseon Downtown Revitalization Project.

“We may be seeing some work progress there in the coming weeks, months,” Wright said.

He said he has met with Huner and members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Ohio History Connection to discuss tax incentives up to 10 percent that are available for businesses located in the city’s Pride and Preservation district downtown.

Wright also reported that project bids will likely be taken this spring for American with Disabilities Act-compliant downtown ramps provided through Community Development Block Grant funding.

• Fire Chief Rick Sluder cautioned citizens not to overload Christmas light circuits. “Don’t be fooled by the word LED. That doesn’t mean you can plug multiple strings of lights together,” he said.

• Police Chief Keith Torbet said, pending test results, he may be able to introduce the department’s new dispatcher at the Dec. 21 council meeting.

He told council members the department has received conditional approval to be issued a federal Violence Against Women Stop Grant issued through Ohio’s Criminal Justice Services. It would be the 21st time Wauseon police have received the grant, which is used to maintain a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act advocate and to counsel victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

• Code Administrator Tom Hall said there are currently two new housing starts in the city. He said a house on Potter Street will be razed and another home built on the property.

• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson reported that bids to paint the east clarifier at the city’s water treatment plant came in substantially higher than the city engineer’s estimate. He said the bid will be redrafted.

Bids for treatment chemicals for the water and wastewater treatment plants have opened.

Richardson said trihalomethane (TTHM) levels in city water have improved enough “to get us out of public notification.” TTHMs are chemical by-products of using chlorine to disinfect water.

He said the sanitary sewer mainline portion of the Linfoot Street reconstruction project is generally completed. Work on a storm sewer mainline will begin soon.

Citizens who aren’t visiting a business in the construction area and don’t live or work in the area should not go there, he said, adding, “If you’re through traffic, please stay away.”

And City Council also suspended three readings and passed 6-0 on emergency an ordinance to levy special assessments for a project by Rupp Unlimited Property Partnership LLC, and a resolution accepting the partnership for assessments for special energy improvement projects.

The legislation allows the Rupp partnership to take advantage of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The process permits a commercial property owner or government entity in Ohio to borrow money to initiate energy efficiency or renewable energy updates to a facility, then pay back the loan through a tax assessment against the property.

“The benefit for them is, they have massive improvements to their property, zero money out of pocket upfront, and it also runs with property should they sell it prior to the loan expiring, said Todd Williams, a Toledo attorney who attended the council session.

Fulton County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Matt Gilroy, who also attended, said, “Any business, government entity or non-profit organization that is looking at doing any kind of large energy improvement plan could take advantage of this program.”

The Rupp partnership is the first Fulton County and Wauseon entity involved with PACE.

The city council also approved:

• The second reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to contract with Fulton County and its political subdivisions for emergency medical and ambulance services.

• Emergency passage of resolutions to authorize the mayor to: contract with the Fulton County commissioners for dog services; enter into an amendment to an agreement with the commissioners for indigent defense services in Fulton County court; contract with the Fulton County for a bail bondsman in Western District Court.

• The third reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to contract with Peterman & Associates for the Wauseon Downtown Revitalization ADA ramp project.

The council entered into executive session to discuss employment of personnel. No action was taken.

Mike Prior, INTV station manager, requested additional funding for equipment during Monday’s Wauseon City Council meeting. Prior, INTV station manager, requested additional funding for equipment during Monday’s Wauseon City Council meeting.

By David J. Coehrs

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.