Council ponders path for future city development

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council heard a presentation from Buxton, an analytic service business, about ways to potentially improve Sidney’s future economic growth on Monday evening.

During the workshop session, Dennis Maher, a representative for the customer analytic service, presented council with information on how the company could help Sidney increase tourism, recruit and retain businesses and redevelop and revitalize the downtown districts.

Maher touted Buxton as a “retail expert” that works with customers of “emerging concepts to Fortune 400 companies.” He said they work as a “partnership” with their customers by doing the “homework” in compiling valuable, pertinent information on the household-level data purchasing habits and lifestyle trends for businesses. Buxton would help identify which businesses would be the most lucrative, best match to bring to Sidney.

If the city hired Buxton, it would be required to enter into a three-year contract. This would include unlimited access to information best matched for Sidney, account manager customer service and use of their marketing tools and strategies for a fee of $50,000 per year.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked Mayer if many of their customers resigned-up for additional time beyond the contract. Mayer said yes, they have several return customers for even just a couple of years. Buxton is currently working with three other Ohio communities.

No action was taken about the proposal. Future discussion is planned.

There was also a presentation given by Utilities Director Larry Broughton on the annual updates on the Inflow and Infiltration (I & I) program. Broughton explained that the I & I division aims to reduce the amount of infiltration and inflow into the sewer collection system, therefore reducing treatment for the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Broughton pointed out the city has only conducted a percentage of property laterals inspections, which are the underground pipes that carry water to the sanitary sewer main, and their and connectors throughout the city.

Community properties were split into sections, with inspections conducted in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Broughton’s presentation showed details about Sections 1, 2 and 3. Approximately 97 percent of homes in Section 1 were inspected and only 64 percent of laterals are compliant. Properties in Section 1 has until April 17, 2017, to make repairs. Properties within the 2015 Section 2 inspections showed only 55 percent of homes have been inspected, but have until April 30, 2018, to complete repairs. Properties in the 2016 Section 3 have until April 30, 2017 to submit inspection results, and have until April 30, 2019, to make repairs.

Broughton said homeowners have several programs available to help financially with inspections and repairs costs such as with I & I Low Income Assistance Loans and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. He recommends applying early and to provide proper documentation.

In other business, council discussed the city’s snow removal policy.The city plans to continue using a salt/grit mixture to conserve salt reserves during the daytime when temperatures are around 30 degrees and to apply less salt to alleys, parks (except Tawawa Park) and residential areas. Main roadways, hill roadways and hill alleys will be addressed at 2 or more inches, but there will be no plowing of residential areas and alleys unless there is 4 or more inches of snowfall.

Currently the city has approximately 800 tons of salt on site, with an additional 200 tons at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) filed yard. Sidney is under contract for 800 tons of salt this year, at $58 per ton delivered. Over the last 10 years, the city has averaged about 1,400 tons of salt annually.

Plans about construction of a future salt storage dome was also discussed; is in the budget for 2017.

There was discussion about annual contracts between the city and surrounding area townships for fire and ambulance services. Council directed for legislation to be drafted for consideration at the Oct. 10 meeting.

The Canal Place parking lot was discussed as potentially going back to a public parking lot. More research is being conducted on the matter for further consideration.

Councilmember Steve Wagner reported that 31 cats were neutered as a part of the Trap-Neuter-Release program.

City Manager Mark Cundiff shared that three replat cases are scheduled for the upcoming Planning Commission meeting and two cases are scheduled for Zoning Board meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.

In addition, council went into an executive session to consider the purchase of property for public purposes, a pending or imminent court action and the employment of a public official. There was no action taken when they emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.