Talk continues on Sidney housing incentives

Council to vote on revisions at next meeting

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Continued conversation on incentives available for housing development in Sidney and city staff succession planning were discussed during Monday evening’s Sidney City Council meeting.

During the Oct. 1 City Council meeting, Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth and Glenn T. Grisdale, principal of the consulting firm Reveille, gave a presentation on revisions to the downtown Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) property abatement program and an overview of other housing development incentives available in Sidney. Council members felt they needed additional time to “digest” the information. The topic was scheduled for further discussion.

Dulworth had no additional information to present but offered to answer any further questions for council members.

Council Member Steve Wagner said he noticed the downtown CRA incentives are for low to moderate housing. He asked what is available to get people to renovate downtown apartments that is upscale and not low to moderate housing. Dulworth responded that the requested downtown CRA revision is not low to moderate dependent.

“Household income does not matter for that at all. All of the state and federal incentives are for low to moderate incomes, with the downtown CRA as the exception,” she noted.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked how quickly the revisions would be available after council approved them? Dulworth said after they are submitted to the state of Ohio to be certified and is sent back to the city it usually takes between 30 to 60 days to become effective.

Council Member Darryl Thurber asked why the revised zones are not larger or including other areas that could benefit from the incentives presented. Dulworth said Sidney currently has four CRAs and state law requires there to be deteriorating housing in the areas identified. She said there could be more areas included, but the point of CRAs are to target certain areas the city want to see developed.

Mayor Mike Barhorst learned boundaries and policy can always change. He suggested to go from the proposed starting point and then see what happens.

Milligan also noted the proposed CRA’s boundary “is quite extended from what it currently is.“

Council Member Joe Ratermann asked if the CRA included apartment buildings to be renovated downtown. Dulworth said they would qualify under the commercial CRA.

Milligan also asked if a land bank owned building, for example, was to be tore down would a newly erected building qualify. Dulworth said that if the zoning and codes requirements are correct, then a new building would also qualify for abatements.

Legislation on the incentives will be presented at the Oct. 22 council meeting.

In other business, council also received a refresher about city staff succession planning by City Manager Mark Cundiff. He said over 50 percent of current charter positions, which include his position and the law director’s; and senior director staff, including the assistant city manager/public works director, finance officer, fire chief and HR manager; and other extended staff members that directly report to him, will be eligible to retire in five years.

Department heads have been directed to identify and prepare existing personnel to be “groomed for promotion,” he noted. The city intends to conduct cross-training and have employees pass on their institutional knowledge, as well.

The next steps, Cundiff said, are to keep looking at key positions, such as a split assistant for the city manager and public works director positions, planner I, economic development director, facilities maintenance foreman and equipment operator I. He noted they will be bring the topic back in a few months after they can determine a time frame of when people are considering retirement.

Ratermann asked for staff to share, at a future meeting, who could be tapped, and the methods for determining current staff members who could fill the positions to be vacant in the next five years. He also wondered after individuals are identified, could educational opportunities become available with a potential contract to fill the position. Barhorst noted that council could not tie a future city council’s hands with a promise of a position not yet open with a contract.

Council also resolved to cancel the Dec. 3 workshop session and Dec. 24 regular meeting, which are traditionally cancelled.

Thurber asked for staff to check out a report he received about brush being thrown on the creek side of Harmon Park.

In Chief Brad Jones’ absence, who had to leave the meeting due to a structure fire on Miami Avenue, Dulworth announced Jones was proud of the two trophies that will be “residing” at the fire department for the next year. The first mentioned was when Lt. Rod Dyer brought home the top prize in the 2018 Bad Art by Good People for his art which brought in over $5,000 for the Gateway Arts Council. Also mentioned were fire department members who won the softball championship for the Battle of the Badges. They collected enough funds to provide 150 toiletry kits for the Miami, Shelby and Darke County Board of Development Disabilities.

Council also went into an executive session for pending or imminent court action and for the employment of a public employee. No action was taken after council members came out of the session.

However, before adjournment, Cundiff passed along to council information he learned after a discussion on water during the Oct. 1 workshop session. He said city staff estimated additional printing and mailing costs to provide utility disconnection notices sent to landlords with tenants subject to disconnection would cost about $10,500. He noted the cost would be lower if landlords opt to receive the notice by email, versus a paper copy.

Council to vote on revisions at next meeting

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.