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The Council of the Village of Riverlea met on the above date at the Thomas Worthington High School, Worthington. The following Council members were present: Mayor Kirk M. McHugh, Michael A. Blanchard, Jeffery A. Colwell, Scott K. Gordon, Jenny D. Jones, and Jacalyn Slemmer. Also present were Joshua C. Mehling, Clerk-Treasurer, L. Leah Reibel, Solicitor, and William P. Charles, Street Commissioner. Guest of Council was Pamela Colwell. At 7:02 pm the Mayor called the meeting to order.
Eric MacGilvray Absence
Colwell moved and Blanchard seconded the motion that Eric MacGilvray’s absence be excused for the month due to his sabbatical. The motion carried (4-0). Slemmer was not yet in attendance at the time of this vote.
The minutes of the regular Council meeting of January 26, 2015 were not read since each member had received a copy. Blanchard moved and Colwell seconded the motion that the minutes be approved as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The motion carried (4-0). Slemmer was not yet in attendance at the
time of this vote.
Report of the Clerk-Treasurer
Colwell moved and Gordon seconded the motion to approve the payment of bills and to accept the financial reports for January 2015 as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The motion was approved unanimously (4-0). Slemmer was not yet in attendance at the time of this vote.
Report of the Mayor
The Mayor reported that the MORPC small village forum that had previously been cancelled would be held on Friday, February 20 and inquired whether any Council members would like to attend in his absence. No one on the Council was able to commit to attending this meeting.
Report of the Solicitor
The Solicitor reported that she had received an estimate of about $1,000 for the replacement of the damaged street signs from the Street Commissioner.
The Solicitor reported that she had done some research as to what would happen if the village were to have extremely expensive street repairs and were not able to afford the cost. She offered to email any members who were interested, but the summary is that the state would come in and put the village in a state of fiscal emergency, similar to a receivership until the debt were repaid.
Report of the Street Commissioner
The Street Commissioner reported that he had put together the estimate of about $1,000 for the repair of the damaged street signs in the village. This estimate was based on an entirely new street sign and new supports for the damaged kiosk. The kiosk itself was able to be reused.
The Street Commissioner reported that he had received an email from the Ohio Utilities Protection Service. He reported that the village needs to change several pieces of information related to its account with OUPS. He reported that he has received a lot of contact from them regarding work to be done in the village, usually with buried utilities.
The Street Commissioner reported that the Storm Water report would be due on April 1. In preparation for this, he would need to spend some time updating the Storm Water plan. One area that the village needs to improve on is public education. Due to this, he reported that he would like to schedule a public forum to educate the residents on the program. He asked if he could schedule this meeting before the next Village Council meeting in March and the Mayor agreed. This meeting would be for anyone who is interested.
The Street Commissioner reported that the SSO report was due and would be submitted to the EPA for the lift station. He inquired whether there had been any issues with sewage backing up into basements in the village.
The Street Commissioner reported that the lift station had been working fine this month, with only a few minor issues.
Report of the Planning Commissioner
The Planning Commissioner was not in attendance. In her place, the Mayor reported that there were no applications that month.
The Planning Commissioner would like to appoint Taylor Surface to the Planning Commission to fill one of the two vacant slots. This resolution would be addressed later in the meeting.
The Planning Commissioner would like to hold future Planning Commission meetings at the High School. Gordon mentioned that that was possible, but the village would most likely have to pay for this additional use. The Mayor suggested other possible venues, such as the library, for these meetings.
Report of the Marshal
There was no report from the Marshal as the Police did not deliver a report.
Report of the Web Manager
There was no report from the Web Manager.
Report of the Newsletter Editor
There was no report from the Newsletter Editor
Comments from Residents on Agenda Items
There were no comments on agenda items.
Committee on Infrastructure
Council discussed the options on funding the infrastructure project in order to bring a recommendation to residents. Jones brought up the fact that Council had discussed whether or not to put any funding decision on the ballot and the Mayor confirmed that this had not yet been decided. Slemmer mentioned that when Dennis Schwallie, the Bond Counsel for Dinsmore & Shohl, had come to the Infrastructure Committee meeting to discuss this, he did not recommend implementing a tax increase without putting it in front of voters. The Solicitor suggested bringing the Schwallie in to a Council meeting to discuss this with Council members. The Mayor agreed and recommended bringing him to the next meeting in March.
The Mayor stated that regardless of any infrastructure funding tax issue on the ballot, the village would need to ask the residents to approve an increase in an operating levy, given losses for the village in the past several years. The Mayor stated that Council could bring this to the ballot together with the infrastructure funding or wait to place the infrastructure funding on the ballot at a later date.
At this point, Colwell distributed some information that he had collected on salaries in the village based on the 2009 census. This data suggested that total household income in the village was in the range of $20.8M to $24.9M and gave various ranges for estimated collections from income taxes at several rates, both including and excluding reciprocity with other area municipalities. He mentioned that the data showed that if reciprocity were in place, the income tax would probably not earn enough to cover the funding. It also suggested that the rate would need to be about 1% to cover these costs. The Clerk-Treasurer mentioned that he had spoken with a representative from the Regional Income Tax Agency on their fees and that RITA withholds 3% of payments and then trues up to the actual cost of collections.
In regards to the operating levy, the Mayor reiterated that after cuts in the funding from the state, the village had been operating at a deficit for several years and that an increase in the operating levy would be needed to stem these losses and eliminate future erosion of the village’s reserves. Jones questioned whether there was room to cut expenses as well and the Mayor stated that the cuts that could have been made had been made.
Gordon inquired as to whether residents would be more willing to opt for an assessment if it were not for the encumbrance on the property. Other Council members agreed that this was the primary drawback of this option among residents with whom they had spoken. Gordon questioned whether there was any way of implementing the assessment without incurring an encumbrance. The Solicitor mentioned that these assessments often end in litigation. Gordon suggested taking the assessment off of the table as one of the three options for funding. He also mentioned that the option of being annexed by Worthington, as was attempted in the past, would also bring an assessment, possibly larger than the option proposed by the village. This should be stated to residents who may want to raise the annexation as an issue again. The Solicitor mentioned that the City of Worthington might not want to put the annexation on the ballot again. Pam Colwell mentioned that with an assessment, the village itself would be responsible for paying for intersections on top of the amounts raised from residents.
Gordon mentioned that of the other options, being an income tax or a property tax, the revenue from an income tax would be much more unstable and fluid than that from a property tax. Colwell stated that on the current five mill valuation, the village is bringing in about $180K in revenue, so a new levy with updated property valuations may bring in just over $200K, meaning that keeping the same millage would help with the shortfall and an additional five mills should bring in the amount needed to fund the infrastructure project. The Mayor stated that as a response to people who may question such an increase in their taxes, he felt that since he had taken office, the village had been run in a very fiscally sound manner and many options for increasing revenue or decreasing expenses had been explored. The Mayor stated that this would be a significant increase in taxes, but that all money raised would go directly back into improving the community and property values. He suggested reminding residents that they voted for home rule, and this is a result of that decision. Gordon stated that property taxes appeared to be the way to go, as this would tie the decision to the property values.
The Clerk-Treasurer will explore the term for an infrastructure bond vs. an operating bond, which is limited to five years. The Solicitor will contact Dennis Schwallie, the Bond Counsel who had spoken with the Infrastructure Committee, about appearing at the March Council meeting to discuss this. Council voted to authorize up to $1,000 in expenses for this appearance. The Mayor suggested drafting an addendum to the letter that was sent to residents, giving them clearer estimates along with Council’s recommendation. Colwell questioned whether Council would be discussing the operating levy as well at the next meeting, fearing that the village is running out of time to get a decision made and placed on the ballot. He confirmed that a replacement levy would be the way to go, as a renewal levy would not lead to any additional revenue. In addition, he suggested a new five mill levy to cover infrastructure costs. Colwell asked the Clerk-Treasurer to explore which expenses for infrastructure maintenance and improvements could be removed or shifted to the infrastructure levy in the future.
Committee on Communications
There was no report from the Chair of the Committee.
Resolution 2015-07 Resolution 2015-07, A Resolution to Appoint Taylor Surface as a Member of the Planning Commission was introduced by Colwell. Jones moved and Blanchard seconded the motion to waive the three readings of this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (5-0). Jones moved and Colwell seconded the motion to adopt this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (5-0).
Social Chair Budget
The Social Chair submitted a budget of $1,500 for the 2015 activities. This is no change from the 2014 budget. Blanchard moved and Colwell seconded the motion to approve the budget for the year. The motion passed unanimously (5-0).
Slemmer moved and Jones seconded the motion to authorize the following expenditures:
$58.32 – Fireproof – Annual storage
$50.00 – Ohio Utilities Protection Service – 2015 assessment
$175.00 – Ohio Treasurer of State – Annual Government Officials Meeting (Clerk Treasurer)
The motion was approved unanimously (5-0).
Comments from Residents on Non-Agenda Items
There were no comments from residents on non-agenda items.
Next Meeting Announcement
The next regular meeting will be March 16 at 7:00 at the Thomas Worthington High School.
There being no further business, Colwell moved and Jones seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion was approved unanimously (5-0). The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 pm.