The City of Wauseon will ask voters to give themselves a tax break beginning next year by reducing the millage of the ongoing community pool levy.
The proposed decrease from 2.6 mills to 2.0 mills was approved Monday during a City Council meeting held by teleconference on the city’s Facebook page. Scheduled for the November ballot, the five-year levy renewal would drop annual revenue for the city pool from about $310,000 to an estimated $215,000.
Public Service Director Keith Torbet said Tuesday the majority of the levy’s original millage was used for constructing the pool, so not as much future revenue is needed. “We felt we should reduce it to give our citizens a little bit of a tax break,” he said.
The reduced amount would be used to cover operation of the pool and the city’s parks and recreation. The reduced millage would begin January of 2021.
The meeting Monday started with a brief joint meeting between Council and the Clinton Township trustees. Both panels approved the reappointment of Trustee Rick Frey to the Wauseon Union Cemetery Board from Jan. 2, 2021, to Jan. 1, 2024.
Council members also approved a plan by the city Finance Committee to offer two options to visiting sports teams requesting rental of ball fields at Dorothy B. Biddle Park for tournament play. Committee member Steve Schneider said the first option offers a fee of $150 per field per day, with the city collecting both $10 car gate fees and concession revenue. The second option calls for a $250 fee per field per day, with the event organizer receiving gate fees and the city collecting concession revenue.
The motion for the options was amended to include a $20 fee per field per day for the use of electricity.
At the committee’s May 26 meeting, Torbet reported that expenses, which include wages, benefits, utilities and supplies, total $335 per field per day. He said lights cost $20 per hour to operate.
Council members briefly considered charging teams the hourly $20 electricity rate, but Councilor Shane Chamberlin expressed concern that that rate would price the city out of the market.
Schneider said the field rental costs may change as time progresses.
“This is a first year trial run at this, and we would probably have to make adjustments in it next year based on, are we turning people away, are we getting a lot of requests,” he said.
Also at one of two meetings the committee held in May, Finance Director Jamie Giguere gave a presentation on projected city expenses over the next 20 to 30 years.
In department reports:
• Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said Officer Madelyn Griffin resigned May 31 to accept a position with Sylvania Township police.
He said the department has completed applications for a federal Justice Assistance Grant to help purchase portable radios, a Violence Against Women Act Grant to aid crime victims, and a grant through the Bureau of Workers Compensation to replace four aging bullet proof vests.
• Public Service Director Keith Torbet said the city pool has opened and welcomed 85 guests Friday, 111 guests Saturday, and 103 guests Sunday.
He said he received notice from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that warning lights at the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing on Fulton Street will be replaced with LED lights.
Torbet also advised citizens that the city will flush fire hydrants over the next two weeks. “If they see a slight discoloration in the water, that is why that’s happening,” he said.
He reported that a Small Cities Grant he applied for through the Ohio Department of Transportation to resurface West Chestnut and South Brunell streets was rejected because the streets are considered local routes. Torbet said he’ll reapply for the grant to resurface Oak Street between Fulton Street and Shoop Avenue, which does qualify for the funding.
Finally, he said the city will try to make adjustments for sports teams to practice in Biddle Park during the COVID-19 pandemic. State restrictions currently limit gatherings of people to 10 or less.
In response to questions from Chamberlin, Torbet said the city’s tennis courts have reopened but with signage advising players of coronavirus restrictions. He said city basketball courts are still off-limits, and their hoops have been removed.
“I would love to put them up but the governor still considers that a contact sport, and that is not allowed at this point in time,” he said.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere said city income tax revenue in May was down 15% from the same time last year. She noted, however, that the revenue increased 2% over April totals.
• Law Director Tom McWatters III said the Wauseon Rotary Club is working to improve the north portion of Indian Hill Trail.
Council members approved the second reading of an ordinance amending Codified Ordinance Chapter 1117 – the establishment of districts and maps and amending the official zoning map.
In new business, Council approved an approximately $17,100 payment to Erhsam Excavating in Delta for clearing the remains of a house on Shoop Avenue destroyed by fire.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.