Official: City uses ‘good judgment’ in water treatment

Comments on Flint, Mich.’s problems

By Michael Seffrin - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The city’s utilities director told Sidney City Council Monday night there’s no danger of Sidney having the water problems seen in Flint, Michigan.

“We’ve used good judgment in treatment,” Utilities Director Larry Broughton said.

Broughton addressed the issue after Councilman Ed Hamaker asked about Sidney’s water-treatment procedures in light of problems in Flint and elsewhere.

Flint switched from Detroit’s municipal water system while under emergency state financial management and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money, but the water was not properly treated, resulting in it becoming tainted with lead.

Broughton explained Flint’s problems occurred because of the way the water was treated and the pipes it flowed through. Calcium carbonate is used here in the treatment process to keep pipes from breaking down and allowing lead to get into the water, he said.

Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough added that lead water lines formerly were used in construction, but nowadays plastic lines are used.

“We have a very good track record in corrosion control,” Broughton said. He said the city issues an annual Consumer Confidence Report detailing its water operations. The report is available on the city’s website,

In other business, council introduced an ordinance that would amend license applications and requirements for peddlers, solicitors or vendors operating in Sidney.

The changes, proposed by Police Chief Will Balling, would standardize the size of the photo to be a recent color passport-size photo and would increase the time the staff has to do background checks. Currently, applications must be made at least 48 hours before the license is issued. This would be changed to 14 days.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked if a valid government ID also should be required in addition to the photo and Councilman Darryl Thurber asked what police would do if an applicant shows no history on a background check. Balling said an applicant’s ID is scanned into the system and cross-referenced with the application. He said “99.9 percent” of applicants show a history through previous employers and other sources.

Mayor Mike Barhorst referred to a case in New Jersey where police prevented some youths from offering snow-shoveling services. Balling said local police use a “common sense” approach and wouldn’t interfere in such an instance.

Council adopted an ordinance to assess the cost of the 2015 sidewalk construction and repair program. For property owners who did not complete their own sidewalk repair and/or construction during 2015, a city contractor completed the work, Engineering Manager Randy Magoto said. The city Engineering Department itemized these assessments and gave a list of property owners to the clerk of council on Nov. 6.

At the same time, the department sent courtesy letters to the property owners who had sidewalk repairs completed by the city contractor, noting their estimated sidewalk replacement costs as well as their option to object to the amount of the proposed assessment. For three weeks in November, the list was published in the Sidney Daily News. During the two following weeks, property owners were given time to object to the amount of their assessment.

The city staff received one written objection concerning ability to pay for the sidewalk work. Responding to questions from council, Magoto said he has had no further contact with the objecting residents. He said they would be assessed over five years.

Council adopted an ordinance to assess the cost of demolition of a dangerous building. The building demolition stems from a fire in March 2015 that heavily damaged the residence at 899 Hayes St. In the aftermath of the fire, the owners, Annette and Ralph Chadwell, did not remove debris, secure the structure, make repairs, or raze the residence as required by the city’s codified ordinances, despite multiple contacts via phone and letter, Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth said.

On Sept. 1, an administrative search warrant was issued to allow the building inspector to evaluate the structure. The inspector determined that the structure was dangerous due to the potential for collapse. The owners were notified of the dangerous building and were given 30 days to raze or repair the structure. The time period for abating the dangerous situation expired Oct. 3. At that time, the city solicited bids from demolition contractors to raze the building and awarded the contract to Spearman Brothers Inc. at a cost of $6,800. The demolition was completed in November. An invoice for that amount was sent to the owners, but no payment has been made, Dulworth said. This ordinance will assess the city’s cost to the real estate.

Council also:

• Adopted was an ordinance amending the rules for Tree Board members. It expands eligible members to include nonresidents who may have expertise or interest in urban forestry.

• Passed a resolution confirming the reappointment of Karl Bemus to the Civil Service Commission for an additional six-year term that will expire Jan. 31, 2022. Bemus has served on the commission since 1974.

• Passed a resolution authorizing the city manager to enter into a housing revolving loan fund administration agreement with the Ohio Development Services Agency. The agreement covers the Community Housing Improvement & Preservation (CHIP) grants the city has been administering since 1992. When ownership of a CHIP-assisted home is transferred, the city is paid the balance of the mortgage and those funds are placed in a separate program income fund. This agreement will regulate the use of those funds. The city currently has about $67,595 in program income, $42,000 of which is reserved for use with the program year 2015 CHIP grant.

• Went into an executive session to discuss discipline of a public employee, preparing for negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees, pending or imminent court action, and the purchase of property for public purposes.

Comments on Flint, Mich.’s problems

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

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

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