Sidney Council completes 2020 budget review

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council completed its review of the 2020 budget Monday night, including a look at the Sidney Municipal Court, and the community development and public works departments.

Clerk Tony Kremer outlined projects planned for the Sidney Municipal Court next year including ensuring compliance with Supreme Court of Ohio guidelines for case disposition; cases to be resolved in a timely and efficient manner. Kremer said they review security protocols and safety procedures on a regular basis and train staff. Another goal is to continue working to implement electronic filing with the Civil Division and E-ticket with state and local law enforcement agencies.

Within the court’s special projects fund, Kremer said the additional court fees levied acquire and pay for special court projects. The fees are used to pay for the project coordinator, who began in 2019, assists with coordinating information systems and technology projects including: case management updates and releases; works with vendors on setup for new projects including eCitation, eFiling, etc.; and to expand court programs to offer additional services such as after hours probation check-ins, mediation and text notifications.

The Justice Reinvestment Incentive Grant (JRIG) fund, estimated at $240,000, works to reduce recidivism and change probationers’ cognizant behavior. He said the goals of the fund are:

• Commit 110 or fewer probation violators to jail;

• Refer at least 20 opiate addicted offenders to the STAR House located at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office;

• Maintain an 80 percent success rate in medically assisted treatment/intensive outpatient programs;

• Have 110 or fewer incarcerations on bond and pretrial status over the review period.

The probation grant fund’s goals were also discussed. Kremer said the fund, estimated at $78,000, assists probationers, their victims and their families as they proceed through the judicial system. The fund provides case management for offenders in CCA and JRIG programs, improves and expands programs offered by community providers for offenders and pays program costs of the full-time chief probation officer.

When asked, Kremer said he would be meeting soon with Judge-elect Gary Carter about the plans for his administration and any impact those plans would have on the proposed budget.

Mayor Mike Barhorst commended court staff on work being done to reduce recidivism. He also noted his service on the Supreme Court Bail Reform Task Force and that this type of work was a statewide priority.

Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth discussed her department’s goals, which includes planning and zoning, building inspection, code enforcement and city hall. Among goals and objectives for 2020 includes a major rewrite of the zoning code, to administer the vacant property registration program, to explore ways to reduce code violations and encourage voluntary compliance with property management compliance.

Barhorst asked Dulworth about other communities her staff looked to for examples when considering the property maintenance code. Dulworth said they do look to other communities similar to Sidney, but also larger communities such as Cincinnati to see what they are doing that works.

The final budget review was given by Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough on the goals and objectives for the many divisions that fall under public works; street lighting, engineering, urban forestry, streets, winter maintenance, water, underground utilities, sewer, stormwater, public transit, airport, service center, garage/fleet, and solid waste.

Doorley Road resident Nicholas Inman had questions about the city’s Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) program and shared a scenario he was aware of that involved a sewer lateral in an alley, according to City Clerk Kari Egbert. Clough explained the sewer line from the residence to the sewer main was private property and was the responsibility of the property owner to correct. Clough added if the alley was extremely narrow, in some cases the inspection chamber could not be installed and the homeowner would be responsible for costs to connect all the way to the sewer main.

Legislation on the appropriations ordinance will be up for adoption Dec. 9.

During the public comments part of the meeting, Inman also told council he wanted to bring awareness to the local homeless issue. He expressed concern for the lack of a shelter in Sidney for those who need emergency housing. He said he felt Sidney has an image problem. He also said he wished there were more activities available for local children. He also praised Police Chief Will Balling for his work in Sidney and his transparency in releasing information regarding the 2017 use of force incident involving former Sidney Officer Warren Melerine.

Barhorst thanked Inman for attending and explained about 80 people have regularly met since January 2015 to discuss the local homeless issue. He noted at least one person in the room Monday, who had run a homeless shelter, had a very difficult time getting volunteers to help run the shelter. He has also referred Inman to the Shelby County United Way as a resource for programs for local youth.

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

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.