Council deals with street lights, parking

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council dealt with diverse topics Monday night, including street lights, parking, a street project, and the waiver of taxes and assessments on a property.

Council adopted an ordinance authorizing the Miami Valley Communications Council (MVCC) to jointly negotiate street light contracts on behalf of the city of Sidney.

The city’s current contract, which MVCC jointly negotiated in 2010, expires on Dec. 31. MVCC estimates the city of Sidney saved $179,100 during this contract timeframe, City Manager Mark Cundiff said in his report to council. He said it is anticipated the new contact will again be for five years. Once the contract is negotiated with DPL Energy, council will be asked to pass a resolution that will authorize the city manager to sign the contract. This action would likely occur in November or December.

Council introduced an ordinance that would remove no-parking zones on the north and south sides of Michigan Street, between the CSX Railroad and Oak Avenue. This action is appropriate as a result of previous changes to the layout of the Ring Can facility and the elimination of a truck loading dock on Michigan Street, city Engineering Manager Randy Magoto told council. Additional parking would help the parking needs of the residential area along the south side of Michigan Street, he said.

Councilman Steve Wagner wondered if, with cars parked on both sides of the street, there would be enough clearance for large fire trucks to move through the area.

Fire Chief Brad Jones said he would not be able to make an educated guess without looking at the area. Magoto added that standard clearance regulations would apply.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked Magoto to provide a visual layout of the area when council considers the matter again at its July 27 meeting.

Council passed a resolution requesting that the Ohio Department of Transportation proceed with a project for access management and intersection realignment along the Michigan Street/West Court Street corridor. The city enacted preliminary legislation in 2013 to cooperate with ODOT on the project.

Magoto said ODOT’s cost estimate for the project is $700,280. ODOT will pay 90 percent; the city’s share will be $104,720. However, this may be revised once bids are received. ODOT’s planned date for bid opening is July 30, with a project completion date of May 15, 2016.

Council passed a resolution waiving collection of taxes and assessment on the Willis Kah property on Wilkinson Avenue. The purpose of the action is to facilitate the sale of the property so that maintenance of it will no longer be a burden to the city and the new owner will pay future real estate taxes.

City Law Director Jeff Amick said the structure situated at 118, 120 and 122 N. Wilkinson Ave. was demolished around 2010. Since then the property has remained unoccupied and unattended, as its owner, Willis Kah, is deceased. The city of Sidney has been responsible for mowing the lawn, and no real estate taxes have been paid in many years. Someone is interested in purchasing this property, but only if it can be conveyed free from all unpaid taxes, assessments and other liens. The city is owed $2,336.34, composed of unpaid mowing assessments, utility bills and real property taxes and associated fees.

The proposed purchase price of $200 is insufficient to pay anything but the cost of the deed preparation and recording fees, Amick said. If this conveyance occurs, no money will be paid to the city for its expenses associated with the property.

“While this request, if honored, would result in a loss of financial recovery to the city, it would shift the burden of maintenance to the proposed purchaser, who would also be responsible for the payment of real estate taxes from this point forward,” Amick said.

To further facilitate this proposed transaction, the Miami County Board of Commissioners has agreed to waive reimbursement of the grant funds of $17,790 it provided to the city for the demolition of the structure. Also, the Shelby County Auditor has agreed to waive collection of unpaid real estate taxes. Finally, it is anticipated that the state of Ohio will release the premises from its claim for Medicaid reimbursement of $113,455.20.

Council heard from Irvin Bowman, of Wayne Truck and Trailer, who complained that the city staff would not allow him to post a sign at the former site of his business informing customers that the business had moved from Fair Road to Vandemark Road.

Barhorst told Bowman that council would have to discuss the matter with the staff and get back to him.”There’s nothing council can do this evening,” Barhorst said

Cundiff said the sign Bowman had erected was in the right of way. He said the process to obtain a variance would take two to three weeks.

Amick added that Bowman could put a small sign on the building. But Bowman responded such a sign would not be effective.

“I’d like to help you, but we first have to see what we can and cannot do,” Wagner told Bowman.

In other business:

• Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, said the city had been approved for a municipal bridge grant of $1.2 million. The grant will pay 95 percent of the cost of a project planned on Park Street in 2019. He said the city had been turned down for a grant it sought for a project on Russell Road.

• Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth said soil samples taken at the site where a fuel tank was removed adjacent to the Municipal Building came back “clean.” This means the city won’t have to take any remediation action related to the project.

• Cundiff said recent rains have been slowing street projects and affecting operation of the municipal swimming pool.

• Barhorst said a citizen has questions about a project to put drain tile through Harmon Field. He said Clough will discuss the project at a future council meeting.

• Several Sidney High School students attended the meeting for an assignment for an advanced-placement government class. Barhorst asked them to introduce themselves and tell what they had learned by attending the meeting.

• Council went into executive session to prepare for negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees; to consider the purchase of property for public purposes; and to consider the appointment of a public official.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.