SIDNEY — Sidney City Council passed resolutions Monday to allow the consumption of alcohol on public property at the upcoming summer outdoor concerts and for the first steps to require repairs to certain property owners’ sidewalks.
Following the success of Raise the Roof for the Arts’ “Backstage Block Party” last year, the non-profit organization plans to again hold three “open air live concerts” this summer in the Ohio Building parking lot owned by the city. Council granted authorization for alcohol to be consumed and possessed during concerts to be held on June 23, July 28 and Aug. 25.
Council member Janet Born asked if there would be a limit to the number of drinks served. She was told there will be no limit, but the police department had no issues at last year’s concerts. It was noted that an officer will be again placed at each gate to ensure alcohol will not be carried in.
The “resolution of necessity” is the first step for the construction/repair of certain sidewalks in Sidney’s 2018 sidewalk program that will require abutting property owners to make the repairs. The city sent out letters to property owners informing them the city will do the work if not corrected within 90 days.
There was an introduction and adoption of an ordinance to amend the city’s income tax code for the adoption of certain sections of the Ohio Revised Code and to declare an emergency so that it would become effective upon passage of the ordinance.
Finance Officer Ginger Adams told council last year the Ohio State legislature approved a bill requiring municipalities to adopt certain provisions by the end of February or risk losing its authority to collect income taxes at all.
These provisions will result in higher costs, lower collections and inconsistent enforcement for the city, Adams said.
As a result, Sidney joined a coalition of municipalities in a lawsuit against the state to overturn these provisions, as they are contradictory to the idea of smaller government and home rule powers granted by the Ohio Constitution, she said. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Although the city does not concede the legality of the provisions within the House Bill passed last year, Adams said, the city acknowledges the need to preserve its taxing authority if the provisions are not declared unconstitutional.
Council was introduced to an ordinance to authorize and direct Law Director Jeffery Amick to prosecute and defend the city or initiate the usual and customary litigation operations of the city.
There was questions about what usual and customary litigation means, to which Amick replied that it would be debts collected that would not have a long term impact. He noted that he could not give an exact definition, except these would be debts he knows council would tell him to pursue that is owed to the city.
Amick said he thought it would save the city and council time and money, but has no problem bringing each debtor, case by case, before council for permission to pursue the debt owed.
The ordinance will return for further consideration at the Feb. 26 meeting.
In other business, A discussion on succession and key staff planning was led by City Manager Mark Cundiff during the Monday meeting. He said within the next five years, up to 50 percent of the local government workers are eligible to retire.
Furthermore, Cundiff said over 50 percent of the current charter positions, senior director staff and those who report directly to him will be eligible to retire within five years. Among senior positions eligible for retirement include the city manager, law director, finance officer, assistant city manager, public works director, fire chief and human resources manager.
“Creating awareness of the issue within senior management staff and council to minimize he impact to the organization as a whole,” Cundiff said.
Department heads has been directed to identify and prepare existing personnel to be “groomed for promotion.” However, an external search to find the best person for the job will still be conducted, Cundiff said. The city intends to conduct cross-training and have employees pass on their institutional knowledge, as well.
Council praised Cundiff for his forward planning and expressed a desire to revisit the issue sooner rather than later. Further discussion will be held in June, after department heads have had time to consider Cundiff’s suggestions.
Also on Monday, council voted to cancel its July workshop session, as no business is on the agenda.
Mayor Mike Barhorst told Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan he was still waiting to receive information from several semi-truck manufacturers after she asked when council will consider the previously introduced no “jake braking” ordinance tabled last month. The ordinance was tabled until further information was available about trucks that have the engine braking feature built-in after some council members heard the feature can be switched off on some trucks, but not all.
Barhorst congratulated Council member Joe Ratermann “on taking the first steps toward becoming the next (congressman)” for 85th District of the Ohio House of Representatives to compete in the May primary.
Barhorst also asked if the scheduled repair of certain sidewalks in industrial areas could be reconsidered in order to ensure that the number of people he has seen walking in the middle of the slippery street this winter could get to work safely. Cundiff said they can look into it.
During the city manager comments, Mark Cundiff announced:
• There will be a vacancy on the Sidney Tree Board, as Brandi Thompson will be moving out of Sidney and had issued her resignation.
• The First Annual Great Miami Riverway Summit will be held on March 23 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Dayton Art Institute, which overlooks the Great Miami River. Among other things, the summit’s agenda includes guest panels on tourism, recreation and economic development.
• He is recusing himself from any bidding, signing of contracts, etc., for curb/gutter or other city road construction projects along his residential street this year to avoid a conflict of interest. Cundiff said Assistant City Manager/Public Work Director Gary Clough will be handling and signing off on all related issues on this roadway.
Finally, council went into an executive session to consider the possible investment or expenditure of public funds to be made in connection with an economic development project. No action was taken when they emerged from the session.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.