Council considers appropriations

By Michael Seffrin -

SIDNEY — With the end of the year approaching, Sidney City Council acted on some annual issues Monday night.

Council introduced an ordinance that would authorize appropriations totaling $73.64 million for 2016. Total appropriations, excluding interfund transactions and agency funds, are 42.5 percent less than 2015, Finance Officer Ginger Adams said, due to the timing of capital outlay appropriations associated with the wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system improvements and water source construction.

The operating portion of this budget is 0.1 percent less than the current 2015 budget. This budget is based on staffing of approximately 218 full-time equivalents, which while adding back selected staffing, still represents a 10 percent decline in staffing since 2008, Adams said.

Also introduced was an ordinance that would authorize supplemental appropriations for various funds for the 2015 budget. The net effect of these changes would be to decrease 2015 appropriations by $27.3 million, Adams said.

Two other ordinances introduced would amend personnel policies, procedures and regulations and would amend the nonunion pay tables effective with the first pay in 2016.The pay tables cover management employees, confidential employees, Municipal Court employees (except the judge), and part-time employees. This ordinance would increase nonbargaining pay scales by 1 percent. The exceptions are the pay scales of the city manager, law director and city clerk, which are set by council.

The final ordinance introduced Monday night would assess certain property owners the cost of weed mowing or junk removal. Each property owner was notified that their property was not in compliance with the city code and was given an opportunity to mow the weeds or remove the junk. When the owners failed to comply, the city paid to have the work performed. The property owners were then invoiced. For weed-mowing violations, the invoiced amount is the actual cost of the mowing plus $50 for the first weed cutting, $75 for the second cutting, and $100 for each cutting thereafter. For junk-removal violations, the invoiced amount is the actual cost of the junk removal plus 20 percent. A total of 54 properties would be assessed a total of $9,563.03 for weed cutting and another 10 properties would be assessed a total of $1,178.21 for junk removal.

Council adopted ordinances:

• Setting rules of operation and governance for electrical and natural gas aggregation programs. Council also passed resolutions authorizing the city manager to complete, sign and submit a certification application for electric and natural governmental aggregators to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. In addition, the resolutions authorize the city manager to execute contracts for, and take such other steps as necessary, for the purchase of electricity and natural gas for city use from a retail supplier for at least 12 months upon the recommendation of the city’s aggregation consultant, Affordable Gas and Electric. This legislation is a result of voters’ passage of aggregation issues on the ballot Nov. 3.

• Establishing utility and sanitation rates with increases of approximately 3 percent for water-flow rate, 3 percent for sewer-flow rate, 1 percent for stormwater fee, and 3.5 percent for refuse. The Environmental Protection Agency compliance fee will be reduced by 30 percent as a result of successful negotiations with the Ohio EPA, construction bids within engineer’s estimates, and lower-cost debt. The rate changes will decrease the low-volume user’s bill by $5.72 per month. The average family of four should see a reduction of $4.17 per month. The change in water and sewer rates will become effective Jan. 1, 2016. The change in refuse and stormwater rates will become effective April 1, 2016.

• To allow the city to dispose of low-value items with the city manager’s approval instead of council’s OK. This deals with items of nominal value that have been seized, or found and forfeited to the city. With the amended ordinance, donation to a nonprofit organization of items valued at $250 or less will be allowed with the city manager’s approval. Donation of more valuable items will require council approval.

In other business, Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough updated council on the Port Jefferson Road reconstruction project. He said driveway approaches were to be completed this week; landscaping will be completed next spring. He also reported that digging had begun on the wastewater treatment plant project and that the city would pursue legal action on 24 properties in the first phase of the inflow and infiltration project that had not complied with city requirements.

By Michael Seffrin

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823.