Council discusses cat problem

By Michael Seffrin -

SIDNEY — Discussion ranged from feral cats to utility bills at Monday night’s Sidney City Council meeting.

“One resident is being overrun with feral cats,” said Councilman Steve Wagner, who brought up the topic in response to questions from residents about what the city could do to deal with the problem.

Mayor Mike Barhorst said Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann contacted him to propose a joint city/county program in which cats would be captured and neutered and then released. “It would at least stop the population explosion,” he said.

City Law Director Jeff Amick said the city does not have a law covering cats. There can be an issue of when a cat is “feral”; if people feed such an animal, it could be considered a pet, he said.

The city’s upcoming switch to new garbage containers should help control cats if residents put all their garbage in the enclosed containers, Amick said. Barhorst added that residents who set garbage out a week in advance of their pickup date are more likely to attract cats.

Also concerning garbage, Wagner earlier had asked how firm the Aug. 21 deadline was that residents were supposed to meet if they wanted to change the size of their new containers.

Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, said the trash hauler, Republic Services, set the deadline so it would have time to order the containers. Republic needs to have a general idea of how many containers and of what size to obtain, but the company will be flexible. “They’re going to try to accommodate as many residents as possible,” he said. Residents can change their size later, too, he said.

In other business, Karen Berning, revenue collection manager, provided an an overview of the city’s Revenue Collections Department. The report included payment options: AutoPay (customer provides bank account number), customer’s online banking, online via the city’s website, and payment by cash, check or money order in person, in the drop box or by mail.

According to 2015 statistics, the last payment method (cash, check, money order) is the most used; the average monthly usage is 3,340 out of a total of 5,650 for all the methods combined.

Customers also have the option to receive bills by email. This cuts the city’s costs for postage, paper bills and envelopes. It also offers advantages to the customer, including immediate access to the bill and a 13-month history of their bills.

Council introduced an ordinance that would make supplemental appropriations for the 2015 budget year. The net effect of these changes would increase 2015 appropriations by $54,600.

The largest single change would be an increase of $33,600 in the general fund. This would reflect money to pay for 2015 classroom updates that will be reimbursed by the Nancy Adams Training Center Fund, held in trust by the Community Foundation of Shelby County. Earlier this year, Dick Adams donated $100,000 to establish this fund in memory of his daughter, Nancy Adams. The goal of the trust is to provide a state-of-the-art training center for local first responders.

Also introduced was an ordinance that would codify ordinances passed over the past year by council. Codification means placing the ordinances in proper sequence in the city code book.

Council passed a resolution approving a replat of two lots to create one new lot at the southwest intersection of Michigan Street and Stolle Avenue. The purpose of this replat to combine the existing lots and dedicate a small portion of right of way at the intersection to provide adequate room for installation of a sidewalk in the right of way. The replat would result in an L-shaped lot of 1.932 acres. The city staff is currently reviewing a site plan for the development of a financial institution. Mutual Federal Savings Bank plans to build a branch office on the site.

Council also passed a resolution to replat one lot and vacate street right of way to create one new lot at 501 E. Monroe St. This property is located at the western terminus of Monroe Street. The replat was requested by Philip and Mary Wethington.

Also at the meeting:

• City Manager Mark Cundiff commented on a recent letter to the editor in which the writer complained about chlorine in the city’s drinking water. Cundiff said the city operates under strict standards for treatment of water. “We’re not overchlorinating the water,” he said.

• Council went into an executive session to review negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees and to consider the purchase of property for public purposes.

By Michael Seffrin

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

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