Sidewalk program begins third round of assessments

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney’s 14-year sidewalk assessment program will continue.

Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary R. Clough led a discussion recommending the continuation of the third round of the program that inspects and repairs sidewalks within the city limits. He told Sidney City Council during its meeting Monday night that the program is “vital to the city’s defense in the case of any claims.”

He said although MVRMA, the city’s liability insurance carrier does not offer any discounts for having a sidewalk program in place, the program is included in Miami Valley Risk Management Association’s (MVRMA) annual Risk Management Best Practices (RMBP) evaluation. Clough said the evaluation surveys each member city’s compliance with the industry best practices.

It is similar to the best practice for “regular inspection, preventive maintenance and emergency response” for our sanitary sewer system, he said. These “best practices” serve to reduce or usually eliminate claims for sidewalk injuries such as trip and falls, he explained.

Clough said the sidewalk program was initiated in 1987 and over the last 14 years, individual areas were predetermined and divided up. Each year a designated area was reviewed for compliance, he said, and necessary repairs or replacements were completed. Property owners either completed their own repairs or were assessed for the work if completed under a city awarded contract.

In other business, during a presentation of an ordinance to authorize supplemental appropriations for 2018, a discussion ensued about potentially severing the Sidney Water Park Fund appropriation in the amount of $37,000 from the rest of the appropriations in the ordinance.

The water park appropriation, Finance Officer Ginger Adams said, was necessary to pay for water usage due to a leak in the city pool during the summer. The water bills were higher than originally anticipated, she said.

Council member Joe Ratermann asked if the repairs were completed, and if so, how long it took and how much it cost. Duane Gaier, parks and recreation director, said the repairs took about two months to complete. Repairs cost about $9,500, Gaier said.

Ratermann summarized the situation regarding the pool leak and costs associated from the water loss over the summer. He said Sidney residents expects council to be “good stewards of the city’s money” and called for a “serious study” on the cost efficiency of the pool. He noted 280,000 gallons of water went down the drain and that the city spent $250,000 to subsidize the pool. Ratermann said other cities across the county are shutting down their pools and questioned if the city of Sidney should continue to subsidize its pool.

Ratermann moved to separate the water park appropriation from the rest of the ordinance and then vote on the two appropriations separately. He said he wanted to vote for the other appropriations listed, but not the water park appropriation.

His motion to separate the appropriations was seconded, but failed due to a tie. Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst was absent and therefore was unable to vote. Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan ran Monday’s meeting in Barhorst’s absence.

Council member Darryl Thurber asked Gaier if they were certain such a break in the plumbing for the pool would not happen again. Gaier said they have changed their method of flushing out the pipes and don’t anticipate a repeat of the incident.

Upon a role call of the original ordinance, which had been amended due to an error in the wording at the second reading on Oct. 8, it was passed with a 5 to 1 vote.

City Manager Mark Cundiff said, “The decision to keep the pool open was my decision. I had recommendations from staff and therefore if there is blame to be laid, you can lay it at my feet. There wasn’t time to come to council and say do you want us to close the pool or shouldn’t we close the pool, and we made a call. Again, this (leak) was underground — not unlike when you have a water line break. And when they do, it causes us extra costs, sometimes.”

Council also adopted an ordinance that modified a chapter of utility ordinance relating to water. The changes are as follows:

• Internal leaks within the building that requires the city to shut the water off at the curb stop or meter pit, shall require the repairs to be made and shall include the installation of a whole house shut off valve where the water service enters the building before water is turned back on. This will eliminate the city having to turn the water of at the curb every time there is an internal leak.

• A change of time from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. to be consistent with city employee schedules regarding overtime hours for calls that come in after hours.

• Starting Jan. 1, 2019, all utility accounts established for tenant-occupied properties on the monthly payment program must first be secured by a deposit, which is proposed to be increased from $125 to $175.

A previous recommendation to prohibit all yard hydrants due to lack of maintenance and leaks, after Jan. 1, 2019, was withdrawn. Some members of council were resistant to the modification during the previous readings.

Other than repealing the “panhandling” law, council also adopted the following resolutions:

• To reappoint Terry Bateman to a three-year term on the Citizens Peer Review Committee. Bateman has served on the committee since Jan. 12, 1998. The new term will expire Dec. 31, 2021.

• To authorize payment to The Floor Store to replace portions of carpet and flooring throughout City Hall. The purchase order is in the amount of $30,000 for the project. The actual bill hasn’t been received, Adams said.

Ratermann asked Clough about a call he received asking about a repair to an edge portion of Sidney Freyburg Road which drops off. Clough said the area he spoke of is not located within the city and he would notify the county about the issue.

Thurber promoted the Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation (SCARF)’s third annual Lip Sync Battle of which he will be participating in as a city representative this year. The event, he said, will be on Nov. 10, at 8 p.m., in the American Legion hall. The live competition is being held to raise money to fund a new animal shelter on Gearhart Road.

Council member Steve Wagner asked Police Chief Will Balling if officers would be handing out candy again on Halloween. Balling said they will have several volunteers and officers handing out candy.

Cundiff reminded there is still time to participate in the United Way fundraiser campaign as it is ongoing.

In final business, council went into an executive session for pending or imminent court action and for the discipline of a public employee. No action was taken after council members came out of the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.