Minster Council deals with COVID concerns

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman - For the Sidney Daily News

MINSTER – The financial reverberations of the ongoing COVID pandemic dominated the agenda of the Minster Council meeting Tuesday night. Due to the governor’s stay at home order, the council meeting was held via Zoom software so that council members could attend from their homes.

Council agreed to begin selecting 2020 projects that could be delayed if the COVID pandemic negatively affects income tax receipts coming into village coffers.

One major project that will be delayed is the 2020 Minor Street Resurfacing project. Village Administrator Don Harrod said that since bids for the approximately $230,000 project were set to be opened April 21, they needed to let contractors know very soon that the village is not going to go ahead with a project that would resurface four village streets.

Harrod said they could use cold patch this year to treat the street surfaces.

Council’s Financial committee, which includes Tom Herkenoff, Rick Schwartz and Nicole Clune will meet with Village administrators on April 14 to decide what other projects can wait, which might include work on one of the village’s water towers.

Council agreed that once they had a better idea of how the COVID pandemic would affect the economy, perhaps they could still implement some projects later in the summer.

Council’s personnel committee also plan to meet soon to discuss how possible falling income may make it hard to stay within budgets at current spending levels. Those committee members are Curt Alberts, Craig Oldiges and Nicole Clune.

In the monthly report to council, February income tax totaled $371,131.83. The total for the year stands at $661,432.33. Council members hoped the income levels would not drop in the coming months.

In other action, council voted to terminate the Power to Purchase contract with Empower Solar that would have them build Phase 2 of the village’s solar field. The decision was made because the power company had failed to begin the project in time for its planned completion date in May 2020. Harrod said he would like to talk to another company about moving the project forward.

In an action of goodwill, council agreed to donate their retired 1980’s fire engine to the non-profit group Midwest Mission Distribution Center. Harrod said that the village had no takers for the old fire engine which had been offered for sale of the state of Ohio public equipment website for several weeks. The asking price had been $3000 but he said demand was low and there were quite a few similar pieces also for sale .

Harrod said the group would transport the truck to somewhere in Central or South America, where it could be used by communities that had next to nothing in the way of equipment. He added that the fire department’s expired self-contained breathing apparatus were also being donated to Midwest Mission. The group’s website says they “distribute education, health, micro-business, and disaster relief supplies, meeting basic human needs around the world and around the corner.”

In his report to council, Harrod said that Helms and Sons had returned to work on Second Street for the last part of the sewer reconstruction project. He said they were installing the water lines on Garfield Street and then would set down curbs and gutters. Harrod said they expected to be entirely done with the project by the end of May.

Harrod also said that their cooperative project with Ohio’s Attorney General’s office to collect delinquent taxes had begun to reap some rewards. He said he was told that village would receive a payment of $18,600.

He also said that Shinn Brothers had begun work on the new pickleball courts and Rensys is in the process of removing the old swimming pool liner. He said it was planned to have the pool open in time for summer, should restrictions due to the pandemic be ended.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.