Council considers Shelby Public Transit’s contract rates

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council considered the Shelby Public Transit System’s contract rates during the Monday evening meeting, which was held via teleconference.

Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough presented council with the proposed Shelby Public Transit 2020-21 contract rates for July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. The proposed rates would increase to $65 from $63 per hour, to $24.75 from $24 per trip, and to $5.30 from $5.15 per mile.

No increase of rates for non-contract fares, which is service for the general public, was recommended. A second reading of the ordinance will return to council for further consideration on May 26.

Other than the ordinance transit rates ordinance, City Council was also introduced to an ordinance to amend the traffic control map to reduce the speed from 55 mph to 50 mph to 40 mph on state Route 47 from Stolle Avenue to Lester Avenue. The change of speed is an attempt to reduce crashes.

Clough said the city’s engineering department completed a speed study along the corridor and determined a speed reduction is appropriate and warranted per the state of Ohio Traffic Engineering Manual. If approved, new signs will be erected alerting drivers of the new speed limit along the corridor.

Some brief discussion ensued as to whether the speed change should be extended further west to Madison Court. Clough reiterated city staff has worked with ODOT on the change over the last year, and after a study was conducted, ODOT determined the speed in the described area is appropriate.

In other business, City Council also adopted an ordinance for the vacation of a portion of the first north-south alley, west of Highland Avenue and south of Campbell Road. Shelby County Commissioners requested the vacation on behalf of adjacent property owners. Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth said the affected portion of the alley is from the southern terminus of the alley, north, approximately 180 feet. This portion of the alley is not improved, does not contain any city utilities, and is not useful as an alley, so it is recommended to be vacated. As standard practice, she said, the city includes a utility easement on the vacated alley, prohibiting the placement of any structure.

Council also adopted six resolutions Monday, and they are:

• To authorize the submission of proposals to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for 2021 Rural Transit operating and capital grant funds, and the execution of the grant upon proposal acceptance. A federal operating grant of $368,235, and a state operating grant $101,500 is being requested. In capital spending, the total grant request is $247,500. This is for vehicle maintenance and replacement and for a oil-water separator replacement.

• To authorize City Manager Mark Cundiff to enter into a contract with Ohio ODOT for the elderly and disabled fare assistance program. The program reimburses the city for half of the $2.50 general public rate for non-contract trips provided to passengers over the age of 65 and those with a disability who have certifications on file in transit office. ODOT will award Shelby Public Transit $47,898 to offset the 2019 fare loss and the reduced fare of elderly and disabled passengers.

Clough told Mayor Mike Barhorst, when asked, ridership is down by 65 to 70% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He predicts the transit will rebound once non-essential trips resume.

• To authorize Cundiff to enter into a state of Ohio Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (Ohio WARN) mutual aid agreement. This mutual aid is for water and wastewater agencies to share resources in the form of personnel, equipment, materials and supplies in the event of emergencies. There is no cost for the city to part of this network. Costs are paid by the community requesting the aid. This mutual aid agreement is very similar to mutual aid agreements for fire and police services.

• To confirm the appointment of Beth Ann Hull to the Shelby County Metropolitan Housing Agency, to expire June 10, 2022. Hull will fulfill the unexpired term of Ernie Williams. This is her first board appointment.

• To confirm the appointment of Jocele Fahnestock to the Sidney Public Records Commission. Fahnestock will replace long-time member Louise Humphrey, who recently passed away. Fahnestock will serve as the citizen appointment for an indefinite term.

• To authorize Cundiff to enter into a sidewalk use agreement with Frank Cantanzarite, doing business as Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen, LLC for the consumption and possession of beer and liquor on public property.

Dulworth said Catanzarite is requesting approval to use of the city sidewalk to open a dining area on May 15, adjacent to 110 E. Poplar St. His request comes after Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent order to allow restaurants to open outside starting on May 15.

The plan is to have tables and chairs for 15-20 people, surrounded by a temporary barrier. City staff is working with Catanzarite on a site plan to ensure the required spacing as well as the minimum clear sidewalk area is maintained, Dulworth said. If the open air dining is approved, adjacent businesses must approve the extended dining area in front of their buildings. City staff recommended approving the request for 30 days, with an additional 30 day extension with Cundiff’s approval.

There was some initial confusion among some council members about what they were voting on. Law Director Jeff Amick clarified members were only voting whether or not to approve the consumption of alcohol on public property, not on the actual location (potentially in front of neighbors’ properties.) He reiterated that city staff would ensure all requirements are met before allowing the business to offer the open air dining.

During council member comments, Ed Hamaker thanked Dulworth for handling the dumpster issue on Spruce Street. When asked for an update on the Ohio Building, Dulworth told Barhorst a contractor was removing trash and working to remedy the mold in the building. The next step, she said, is to have a structural engineer conduct an evaluation of the building.

Cundiff said city staff is working on a plan to reopen city hall. Nothing has been set, he said, but they don’t think City Hall will open until July 16, other than by appointment. This date is being considered as an effort to maintain social distance amid the extended tax season.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.