City’s snow plan shared at council meeting

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Information about the city’s snow plan and further discussion about some requests for lodging tax dollars were topics before Sidney City Council Monday evening.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in council’s chambers at City Hall, got off to a slow start after about a 20 minute delay due to a power surge. The PowerPoint presentations to be displayed during the meeting were unable to be loaded as the chambers’s audio and video technology was not working. In order for presentations to be displayed, the meeting was relocated across the street to the Nancy Adams Training Center at the Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services Station 1.

Street Manager Brian Green provided council members information on the city’s snow removal policy. He said due to the mild winters over the last four years, the city has used less than average amounts of salt. Prices have come down each year from its peak price in 2015, Green noted. This year, however, prices have increased even though salt supplies are available for purchase.

This year salt costs $99.58 per ton to be delivered, Green said. The price was $64.93 per ton in 2018.

Sidney’s new salt dome, which was filled and used for the first time last year, has a capacity of approximately 2,000 tons. Currently the city has approximately 1,700 tons of salt on site. The city of Sidney is under contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for 2,000 tons of salt this year. Green said the dome will be filled with the remaining funds from this year and next year’s budget.

He noted Sidney has about 18 winter events per season of which the salt/grit mixture is needed to be applied to city streets. The city’s average annual salt usage is 1,048 tons over the last 10 years, Green said. Snow plows go out to plow when there is 4-inches of snow on the main roadways, hills, hill alleys, curves and bridges. The snow policy is to minimally apply salt to parking lots, except hills; residential and alley areas; some sidewalks and in the cemetery.

The street department currently has 10, 5-ton dump trucks with snowplows; five, 1-ton dump trucks with snowplows; nine, three-fourth-ton pickup trucks with snowplows; two front-end loaders; three backhoes; a skid-steer tractor; and two sidewalk tractors with snowplows or snow-blowers with salt spreaders. Green said they are about to replace two inoperable 1-ton dump trucks with snowplows.

All snow trucks are equipped with automated vehicle locators (AVL), Green said, which gives city staff the ability to accurately locate and identify where trucks are, and if they have been plowing or spreading salt at a location. The 5-ton trucks have toggle sensors that also gives the plow position and whether the trucks are spreading salt.

He told council the city’s annual Snow Plow and Transit Roadeo, which helps give drivers a refresher before the winter season begins, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 8:15 a.m.

In other business, council discussed a few of the higher dollar requests the Lodging Tax Committee discussed on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Committee members felt city council members should be involved in these requests, as there is about $140,000 more in requests than the lodging tax committee has available to give out.

During the Oct. 1 meeting, the committee tabled $30,000 of the Sidney Bicentennial Celebration’s $40,000 request until more information is provided about the fly-in, tree planting and charter day events planned for the celebration. Also tabled was a $50,000 request to purchase the Sidney Big Four Passenger Station. And, of Sidney’s Shultz’s Battery Park sculpture grouping request for $30,000, only $15,000 was approved at the lodging tax meeting. The remaining amount will be raised privately. City council discussed all of these requests Monday.

Mayor Mike Barhorst, who serves as co-chair for the Sidney Bicentennial Celebration, detailed the Bicentennial Celebration events in question. After his explanation, council members felt they better understood how the money will be spent, and the consensus among those members was to fund the full request.

Council members talked about obtaining Sidney Big Four Passenger Station to preserve its history in Sidney. They also discussed the long-term implications of owning the station, including its maintenance. It was noted CSX has destroyed other similar types of properties it owns without notice in other cities in the past, so the consensus was to delegate a certain amount of lodging tax dollars, to be determined by the committee. The remaining unfunded portion will be raised through private donations, City Clerk Kari Egbert said.

Council members decided to not fund the Shultz’s Battery Park sculpture with lodging tax funds, and instead use the project’s encumbered money to have a smaller prototype of the sculpture created to fundraise with.

Council members/lodging tax board members Darryl Thurber, Ed Hamaker and Steve Wagner, and city staff will reconvene soon to further discuss lodging tax funds available to make a recommendation for city council to consider.

A review of the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Oct. 21, was shared. City Manager Mark Cundiff also reviewed the prospective city council agenda items for the next 30 days.

Council also went into an executive session to consider the appointment of a public official. No action was taking by council when members emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.