New energy special improvement district is established in Sidney

District to allow help finance efficient building improvements

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — An energy special improvement district (ESID) has been established within the city of Sidney. The district stretches city-wide.

A resolution was passed by Sidney City Council Monday to approve the establishment of the ESID and the necessity of the project to replace existing lighting with LED lighting.

The purpose for establishing an ESID is so buildings within the district, or in Sidney, in this case, would be eligible for the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. PACE is a flexible financing tool to help commercial building owners pay for energy efficient building improvements with no money out of pocket. PACE allows the building owner to pay for improvements as they reap the benefits of lower energy and maintenance bills. Payments for the improvements are collected through a voluntary municipal special assessment attached to the building, not the owner, and are paid back through the annual property tax bill for up to 30 years.

The resolution also approves the establishment of the ESID board. The board consists of Mayor Mike Barhorst and four other members who will be appointed in coming weeks.

Council members had several questions about the board for attorney Michael Katz of Bricker & Eckler. Katz outlined the duties, composition and function of the board and provided examples of PACE projects. He also shared the current district would apply to commercial, industrial and multi-family properties. A residential PACE program could soon be available in Ohio, he noted.

Along with the resolution, council was also introduced to two ordinances related to the creation of the ESID district. The first ordinance allows the city to proceed with the acquisition, construction and improvement of public improvements in conjunction with a project to replace some existing lighting in City Hall with more energy efficient LED lighting. The second ordinance will levy a special assessment for the project replacing existing lighting with LED lighting.

The ordinances related to the ESID will return for further consideration at council’s Sept. 9 regular meeting.

In other business, council members also received Sidney-Shelby County Senior Center’s annual update.

Rachel Hale, director of the Senior Center, gave her first presentation since becoming director in March, upon former Director Eileen Wiseman’s retirement. Hale provided visuals and information about the various ongoing programs and events held at the Senior Center.

The Senior Center’s focus, Hale said, is on health, education, recreation and socialization for citizens 50 and over, with the goal to become a household name. She noted the Center has grown to over 900 members since opening in 1997.

The Senior Center is funded through grants, membership dues, fundraising events and donations/sponsorships.

Membership for Shelby County residents is only $30 per year; $35 per year for those who live out of the county. Guests receive two free visits to check the Center out before joining, she said.

Membership numbers were slightly down at the end of 2018, at 929 members, compared to 1,026 members in 2015, she said when reviewing the last four years. The goal for 2019, Hale said, is to get 950 members signed up by the end of the year; the Center currently has 766 members. She noted membership numbers may seem low so far this year because people renew their membership at various times of the year, or others may have aged out or passed away. She told council they do follow-up with members to remind them their membership has not been renewed yet. The Senior Center staff also plans to send surveys out to those who did not renew to understand why.

A summer membership drive is currently underway at the Senior Center, from which two people will learn in October they will receive free membership in 2020.

Hale challenged the public to come check out the Senior Center. And with applications on hand, she also encouraged each member of City Council to join.

Also on Monday, City Council was also introduced to an ordinance to approve the vacation of a portion of Montrose Avenue. The vacation is for a 36-foot-portion of a right of way at the southern terminus on Montrose Avenue, that will eliminate a pinch-point adjacent to the Shelby County Fairgrounds.

Barbara Dulworth, community development director, said this section of street right of way extends into the Shelby County Fairgrounds, and includes a small cul-de-sac. In order to ensure a turn-around is available for residents and city services on Montrose Avenue, Dulworth said, a new hammerhead turnaround will be constructed to replace the current circular turnaround with an adequate size for large vehicles, such as garbage trucks, snow plows and fire apparatus to use.

Along with the vacation ordinance, council also passed a resolution to authorize City Manager Mark Cundiff to enter into a right of way vacation agreement with Board of County Commissioners of Shelby County. The county is responsible to install the hammerhead turn-around; to install a 20-foot gate to provide emergency access; fencing to accommodate the changes; and materials necessary to move the existing hydrant from the vacated area.

County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst said the county wanted the vacation to provide a little extra space to get around in the parking lot area and improve the fairgrounds entity.

The vacation ordinance will return for further consideration on Sept. 9.

There was also a discussion to transfer a C1 and C2 liquor permit at 2190 Fair Road from Northtowne Sunoco Inc. DBA Sidney Marathon to S&G Stores, LLC DBA S&G 75.

Cundiff noted the police department conducted a background report for the ownership change and it indicated there was no known reason to oppose the change. Council members voiced no opposition to the permit transfer.

District to allow help finance efficient building improvements

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.