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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, Jody Croley Jones, Web Manager, Carolee Noonan, Planning Commissioner, and William P. Charles, Street Commissioner. Guests of Council were Marc Benevento, Greg Ross, and Dennis Schwallie. At 7:07 pm the Mayor called the meeting to order.
Eric MacGilvray Absence
Colwell moved and Jones seconded the motion that Eric MacGilvray’s absence be excused for the month due to his sabbatical. The motion carried (5-0).
Dennis Schwallie, Bond Counsel for Dinsmore & Shohl, was in attendance to discuss the village’s options for funding any infrastructure improvement projects. He mentioned that in addition to paying for these from the general fund, the village had four primary options, which are as follows:
Impose a special assessment against properties that would benefit from improvements. With street projects, this is primarily done by front footage. A potential problem with this option would be that the village is responsible for the cost of intersections and at least 2% of the cost of the work.
A voted tax levy. This is done in terms of mills, which as of the most recent valuation of village real estate, comes out to be about $23,500 per mill. This levy could be in place for as long as the village would like and could be reduced at any point during the life of the levy.
A voted bond issue. Voters would vote on the principal amounts plus interest. The levy would be tied to the length of the bond issued.
An income tax. Any amount up to 1% could be passed without a vote, though any amount would be possible with a vote. The main challenge of this option would be the unknown amount of revenue.
Gordon questioned whether a bond issue could be reduced like the levy, and the answer to this questions was yes. The Planning Commissioner questioned how any reciprocity with an income tax would be handled and Mr. Schwallie replied that it would need to be addressed in the wording of the ordinance as to whether this would be in place and to what degree.
Colwell inquired as to the timing of the steps involved in a bond issue. The first step in this process would be to propose an ordinance stating the amount to be borrowed as well as the interest rate and number of years for repayment. This would then be sent to the County Auditor, who would calculate the amount needed per year to service the debt. A second ordinance would then be needed in order to place this on the ballot. This would then need to be sent to the Board of Elections no later than 90 days before the election. If the bond is approved by the voters, lenders would need to be found to purchase the bond(s). These bonds could be issued in stages along with the work performed on the streets. The taxes would then be collected from the voters to repay the loan over the life of the bond.
Blanchard asked when the construction could begin on such a project, assuming passage by the voters. Mr. Schwallie replied that construction could begin once the Clerk-Treasurer certifies that the funds from the levy are available and buyers for the bond are found.
Jones questioned whether an assessment would be tax deductible. Mr. Schwallie answered that while a tax would be deductible, a special assessment would not be. It could, however, be added to the basis on the home in the event of a capital gains calculation.
Colwell questioned what the timing would be for a tax levy vs. a bond issue. The tricky part of this would be timing the approach to the voters as well as the potential lenders. Colwell stated that because of the difficulty of this timing, he felt that a bond issue may be more appropriate in order to get the project started. Gordon mentioned that typically, bond issues are used for construction and levies are used for operations.
The Solicitor read an email from MacGilvray, who was wondering what would happen if a funding option brings in more money than planned. Mr. Schwallie replied that the first step would be to ensure that the tax stopped being collected. Any excess funds would then need to be used for street improvements at some point. Another option would be to ask the Tax Commissioner for permission to move this money to the general fund. With a bond issue, any extra money collected would need to be used to retire the bonds.
The Mayor questioned whether any bonds could be repaid early if funding was received from MORPC, and Mr. Schwallie affirmed that this was the case.
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 February 2015 as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The motion was approved unanimously (5-0).
Report of the Mayor
The Mayor reported that MORPC had requested a review of their community and employment projections. MORPC’s count of 433 residents and 176 houses in the village both seemed low.
Report of the Solicitor
The Solicitor reported that she had drafted three different resolutions to request verification from the County Auditor on funds to be raised on levies of various millages. The first was for a 5.0% levy, the second was for a 4.5% levy, and the third was blank.
Report of the Street Commissioner
The Street Commissioner reported that there was a fire hydrant that had been knocked over on Falmouth. It is unknown how this hydrant was knocked over. The Commissioner had asked Central Ohio Hydrant to give an estimate for repair.
Report of the Planning Commissioner
The Planning Commissioner was not in attendance for this part of the meeting. In her place, the Mayor reported that Janet Brown had agreed to serve on the Planning Commission for a three year term, which completed the Commission.
The Planning Commissioner would like to hold meetings at the High School, but the village would need to pay for this space if they were held here.
Report of the Marshal
There was no report from the Marshal as the Police did not deliver a report.
Colwell reported that he had seen a trailer parked on the street at the end of Beverly. Gordon reported that some residents had just moved in and used the trailer for this move. The Mayor said that he would keep an eye on this and would inform the residents if it was not moved.
Report of the Web Manager
The Web Manager reported that the website had recently crashed due to problems with the service.
The Web Manager reported that she had received several emails requesting to share links on the website. She had turned these requests down as not to create a precedent.
Comments from Residents on Agenda Items
There were no comments on agenda items.
Committee on Infrastructure
After hearing from Mr. Schwallie earlier in the meeting, Council reopened the discussion on funding the infrastructure project. Gordon stated that his initial thought was that a bond issue would be the proper method to fund the construction, with possible a 1 mill levy in addition to fund ongoing maintenance on the streets. This would be in addition to any levy issue for the general fund. The Clerk-Treasurer distributed a list of street maintenance expenses since 2009. This did not indicate that there were a great deal of expenses that could be moved from the general fund with any infrastructure improvements.
The Street Commissioner stated that he felt it was important that everyone think of any improvements as infrastructure improvements and not just street improvements, as the water and sewer lines are also in great need of repair. The Mayor mentioned that many of the lines were made of lead. The Street Commissioner said that these lead lines run from the main lines in the street to the curb box of the individual houses. The Mayor suggested that the replacement of these lead lines could be another selling point for the infrastructure project.
Gordon questioned what the timeline of the decision would be, given that any ballot issue would need to be submitted to the county no later than August 1. Colwell mentioned that the Council would need to first submit a resolution to the county asking them to verify the funds to be received before it passed a resolution declaring this millage. The Solicitor mentioned the three versions of the resolutions that she had prepared to request this information from the county. Colwell suggested that instead of asking the county what money could be collected given a certain millage, Council should ask the county to verify what the millage would need to be in order to raise a certain dollar amount that would stop the continuing annual deficits that the general fund had been running. Council decided that an additional $100K per year should stop the annual deficits and allow the village to build a surplus. The Solicitor volunteered to ask the county what the millage would need to be to raise these funds. The Mayor stated that in response to Gordon’s timeline questions, Council should have a decision on the type of funding and amount to be requested by the May meeting.
Gordon questioned whether Council had decided which of the options given by the Infrastructure Committee would be the official plan chosen by the village. Council reviewed the options for streets and water/sewer lines and decided that the best plan would be to choose the option that replaced the entire street structure along with the sewer and water lines. This plan would be the most comprehensive and would last the longest for the village. The Street Commissioner agreed to ask Burgess & Niple for updated cost estimates on the construction project.
Committee on Communications
The Chair of the Committee reported that there had been no volunteers to serve on the committee. This agenda item will be stricken from future agendas.
Lawn Care Contract
Jones reported that she had sent a request to two lawn companies to submit estimates for lawn care for the village based on the planned services in the Community Green proposal. Only one company, Down to Earth Lawncare, responded to this request. Their request came in about $400 cheaper. Jones agreed to do a cross reference of the two proposals and send this to Council members so they could make a decision on this matter at the April meeting.
Slemmer moved and Jones seconded the motion to authorize the following expenditures:
$2,866.00 – Ohio Municipal Joint Self Insurance Pool – 2015 insurance policy
$121.68 – Fireproof Storage – Storage
$764.00 – Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security – 2015 proportionate share
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 April 20 at 7:00 at the Thomas Worthington High School.
There being no further business, Jones moved and Blanchard seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion was approved unanimously (5-0). The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.