Sidney Council completes 2021 budget review

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council completed its review of the 2021 budget Monday night, including a look at the Sidney Police Department and the goals of the parks and recreation and the community development.

Police Chief Will Balling outlined the police department’s numerous goals and objectives for 2021, which includes providing administrative service to support the department, continued long-term leadership training and development of supervisors, continued policy and procedure development for all staff, to maintain compliance standards, continued community relations programs and continued work to reduce drug use in the community.

Balling said the department’s community resources officer is currently developing a program for area children to learn to cook with a cop as a method to develop a relationship and teach them police officers are your friends.

Next year the police department intends to continue with the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), youth RAD and Safety Town programs and the Sidney Addict Assistance Team (SAAT).

The department had a record year in 2020 finding criminal activity on the dark web with juvenile sex crimes, he said. They plan to continue investigations in 2021 on the dark web. Also, the department dealt with far more crashes than expected during a pandemic and a record number of pursuits this year.

Balling said they intend to continue information sharing with all law enforcement in Shelby County, from the Sheriff’s Office to police departments in area villages. The department will also provide drug education, execute search warrants, review investigator performance, audit the property room and assist the property room manager.

He said they plan to continue the analysis of towing issues, increase traffic and parking enforcement. They also intend to try to reduce OVI-related crashes and support drug investigations, among other goals.

The department’s budget for next year is about $6.26 million.

In light of the six additional states that voted to make recreational marijuana legal, Council member Ed Hamaker asked Balling about his thoughts on how to deal with it, as it may eventually become legal in Ohio. Balling said it will effect society and the health care system in general. Officers are seeing very little medical marijuana, Balling said, because the black market is cheaper and still the main source of drugs. He noted states are dealing with marijuana in different ways, but suspects it could become legal in Ohio within the next 5 to 7 years, and they should plan to get ahead of it.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Duane Gaier said his department’s goals and objectives include improving the trail system by adding 0.9 miles to the existing system to Lockington. From there Miami County will work to continue to connect to the previously paved 350 miles of trail.

Gaier intends to seek grants to further develop the park system; work to increase the number of parks adopted in the Adopt-a-Park program, which helps improve city parks’ appearance and safety; and to provide community recreation services. He also outlined improvements at Graceland Cemetery and the Senior Center of Sidney-Shelby County, as well as goals for the city’s summer programs, the concession stand fund and the Sidney Water Park.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked if he had considered whether the pool would open next summer as social distancing and COVID regulations will still be recommend in May. Gaier said they are planning for success, with the intention of opening the water park, but will make the call about closing, if necessary, at a later time.

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 2021 includes to review building components for potential energy efficient cost reductions; maintain enhanced custodial cleaning, as needed for COVID-19; participate in the planning and analysis of whether to renovate or replace the City Hall Building.

Legislation on the appropriations ordinance will be up for adoption Nov. 23.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.