Council considers land bank concerns, expiring tax levy

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council discussed the expiring income tax levy for street repairs, Shelby County Land Bank concerns and extending the Canal Feeder Trail among other items, on Monday.

During the discussion to continue revenue after the 0.25 percent income tax street repairs levy expires at the end of 2019, council reviewed the three methods presented at a meeting in November, which were:

• A permanent income tax levy of 0.25 percent, with 0.10 percent dedicated to street maintenance and 0.15 percent dedicated to north end fire station operations.

• Two levies: 1) a five-year income tax levy of 0.10 percent for street maintenance and 2) a permanent income tax levy of 0.15 percent for north end fire station operations.

• Two levies: 1) a permanent income tax levy of 0.10 percent for street maintenance and 2) a permanent income tax levy of 0.15 percent for north end fire station operations.

After a debate about which method would be most successful at the polls, City Manager Mark Cundiff said he will research a consulting firm to survey the community for citizen feedback. The topic will be further discussed at a future meeting.

Concerns of the Shelby County Land bank was another discussion council considered Monday. Cundiff said the land bank asked if they could get any financial relief from the city for houses acquired within Sidney for unpaid utility bills, including associated Inflow & Infiltration (I&I) program fees, demolition permit fees and costs in excess of $25,000. The land bank’s maximum reimbursement per house is $25,000, and occassionally house are found to be a “vertical landfill” of trash that must be removed prior to demolition. In the past, the cost for trash removal for certain homes was about $10,000 in addition to demolition costs.

More discussion about associated I&I fees will come forth in the future after Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, and Law Director Jeffery Amick develop a plan to present to council. It was determined by council, however, that Cundiff may utilize money budgeted annually for the city’s revitalization to help with other costs. The land bank would need to contact Cundiff after a site inspection is conducted with a request for the money.

In other business, council adopted two ordinances to amend sections of the codified ordinances regarding the organizational chart and salary increments, and an ordinance making supplemental appropriations for 2018.

Council also adopted six resolutions, and they are:

• To authorize and approve the placement of a refurbished Zenas King Arch Bridge in Tawawa Park;

• To confirm the reappointment of John D. Schmitt to a six-year term to the Civil Service Commission. His new term will expire on Jan. 31, 2024. Schmitt was appointed to the commission on July 27, 2015, to fill Bill Lang’s remaining unexpired term.

• To reappoint Stan Frye to the Stormwater Appeals Board for a new five-year term that will expire on Jan. 28, 2023. He has served on the board since 2002.

• To authorize Cundiff to file one or more applications with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for grant funding through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and/or the Clean Ohio Trails Fund (COTF).

Duane Gaier, parks and recreation director, said the grant money will help fund the next phase of the Canal Feeder Trail, also known as the Great Miami River Trail. It is estimated to cost $789,167 to construct roughly 1400 feet of a 10-foot-wide multi-use asphalt trail from the path’s current terminus at the east side of Interstate 75 bridge at the Great Miami River to the west side limited access right of way.

The COFT grant will cover 75 percent, with a 25 percent local match. RTP is an 80 percent grant with a 20 percent local match. Cargill has committed to donate $300,000 toward developing the trail, Gaier said, which will cover the required local matching funds. If the grant is funded, it would be awarded in this fall. The design and bidding would be completed in the winter of 2018-2019, and construction would begin next year in 2019.

• To appoint Robert Baird and Ralph F. Keister III for two-year terms and to confirm the appointment of Barbara Dulworth for a continuous term on the new Local Board of Tax Review. This board will replace the Income Tax Board of Appeals, which existed for tax years prior to 2016. Ohio state legislature made several changes to the board that reviews tax appeals in December 2014; they took effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

• To authorize and direct to Amick to initiate litigation against Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio and USIC, LLC to collect a debt. Amick told council that as the city becomes more aggressive in its attempt to collect debts, and debtors regularly changes, he intends to draw-up a “blanket” form of legislation in the future that will authorize him to pursue money owed to Sidney without needing to bring a specific resolution for each debt in default to council for approval. He said he will certainly keep council informed, but after he prepares legislation for council’s approval, it is already inaccurate and not update by the time council convenes.

Council also went into an executive session to consider the dismissal of a public employee, possible investment or expenditure of public funds to be made in connection with an economic development project, the purchase of property for public purposes and pending or imminent court action. There was no action taken when council emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.