Council tackles lengthy agenda

By Michael Seffrin -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council tackled a lengthy agenda Monday night during its only December meeting as it wrapped up business before the end of the year.

Members of the Downtown Revitalization Task Force updated council on that group’s activities. Amy Zorn, the task force chairwoman, and Downtown Sidney Director Amy Breinich presented a revised map of the proposed downtown district. It includes Julia Lamb Park, with the Great Miami River as a border.

Zorn also reviewed the task force’s work to establish the new Sidney Alive organization and its board of trustees.

Mayor Mike Barhorst said council will study the revised map and provide input after the first of the year.

Among several resolutions council passed Monday night was one to authorize a 10-year street-lighting contract with Miami Valley Lighting (MVLt). It will replace a five-year contract that expires Dec. 31. Miami Valley Communications Council negotiated the contract on behalf of 23 cities.

Provisions of the new contract include changing all existing mercury vapor (MV) lights to LED lights at MVLt’s cost by the end of 2020. There are 42 MV lights left in Sidney. Also, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights will be changed out to LED lights at MVLt’s cost but with an installation fee that varies based on the size of the light. Cities will have until June 30, 2016, to decide if they want to participate in whole or in part with the HPS change-out.

MVLt will visually inspect every steel pole in the city by May 31 next year and prepare a replacement plan which will be approved by the city. Steel poles will be replaced, at the city’s discretion, with either spun aluminum or wood poles. Spun aluminum poles replacing steel poles will have a $5.75 monthly service charge, which is currently $2.58/month (only new poles will have new, higher fee). There is no monthly service charge for wood poles.

“The fiscal impact of this new contract depends greatly on if and when we change out our existing HPS lights to LED,” City Manager Mark Cundiff said in his report to council. “If the city only changed out the MV lights with LED during this contract, this contract would increase our street lighting costs by 2.58 percent over the length of the contract. If we changed out all the MV lights and the HPS lights (except for the 27,000 luminaire) in 2016, the street-lighting costs would decrease by 2.42 percent over the life of the contract. These calculations assume that steel poles will be replaced with spun aluminum. Additional cost savings could be realized if the steel poles were replaced with wood poles.”

Responding to questions from Councilman Darryl Thurber, Cundiff and Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, discussed the pros and cons of LED lights. LEDs use less electricity, but may not be suitable for intersections because of the glare that could hamper motorists’ vision.

Thurber also noted the large price increase with spun aluminum poles. Cundiff said the city actually is renting the poles with the monthly service charge.

Council passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with Turtle Creek Township for maintenance of Wright Road, between Kuther Road and the CSX Railroad tracks, west of the city limits. The eastern portion of Wright Road is within the city limits and the western portion is within the township limits.

Clough said the township has limited snowplowing equipment and proposes that the city plow this section of Wright Road and that the township maintain the side ditches along its portion and also within the city limits to Kuther Road. The township has one truck for snowplowing, so this agreement would benefit it greatly, and the city has no other side ditches anywhere near Wright Road to maintain, so it would also be a benefit and cost savings to the city.

Council passed a resolution authorizing litigation against homeowners who have not completed sanitary sewer inspections that are required under the city’s inflow and infiltration (I&I) program. The I&I program is designed to remove clear water from the sanitary sewer to reduce flows to the wastewater treatment plant. The properties affected are those in the first year of the I&I program. The program covers a different section of the city each year.

City Law Director Jeff Amick said several property owners have contacted him to say they intend to comply with the inspection requirement. If they do, they will be removed from the list of owners that will be part of the litigation. Amick said the city has sent communications 10 times to each of the owners during the past couple of years. Some owners have ignored the messages, and in some cases, the properties may be vacant, he said, but the inspections still need to be done.

Council also passed resolutions to:

• Reappoint Anthony Schroeder to the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership Board; reappoint Terry Bateman and Kris Berlekamp to the Citizens Peer Review Committee; and to reappoint Deb Windsor to the Personnel Board of Appeals.

• Authorize an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to remove a bridge on Michigan Street, west of Oak Avenue, and to replace it. ODOT has awarded the city a grant to fund 80 percent of the project. The city’s share will be $261,322. This amount could be revised once bids are opened Jan. 14. The project is anticipated to be completed by July 31, 2016.

• Re-authorize a cash advance, if needed, up to a maximum of $229,200, from the Capital Improvement Fund to the Airport Improvement Fund. The advance is necessary until the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes the close-out documents on the airport runway expansion project and the city receives the 90 percent grant reimbursement. Cundiff said city staff will talk to the FAA soon “to stress the urgency that we get the money” before the end of the year.

• Add 2.797 acres to Robert O. New Park. The lot was platted for, and intended to be an addition to, the park, but until required infrastructure had been constructed, the land remained in the ownership of the developers, ETT Investments. At this time, the infrastructure construction is complete, with a few remaining punch-list items that the developer must address. Those items will be completed in the spring of 2016 by the developer’s contractor.

By Michael Seffrin

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

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