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, Scott K. Gordon, Jenny D. Jones, and Jacalyn Slemmer. Also present were Joshua C. Mehling, Clerk-Treasurer and L. Leah Reibel, Solicitor. At 7:07 pm the Mayor called the meeting to order.
Eric MacGilvray Absence
Jones moved and Slemmer seconded the motion that Eric MacGilvray’s absence be excused for the month due to his sabbatical. The motion carried (3-0).
Jeffery Colwell submitted his resignation from the Council effective May 9. Josh Schoenberger had expressed interest in this position and submitted his CV to Council members prior to the meeting. He discussed these qualifications with the present Council members. Gordon moved and Slemmer seconded the motion to approve Josh Schoenberger as a member of the Village Council. The motion was approved unanimously (3-0). The Mayor then swore Schoenberger in for a term that is due to expire in December 2017.
The minutes of the regular Council meeting of April 20, 2015 were not read since each member had received a copy. Gordon moved and Slemmer seconded the motion that the minutes be approved as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yes: 2, Gordon and Slemmer, No: None, Abstain: Jones and Schoenberger. As the motion did not pass, the April minutes will need to be approved at the June Council meeting.
Report of the Clerk-Treasurer
Gordon moved and Slemmer seconded the motion to approve the payment of bills and to accept the financial reports for April 2015 as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yes: 3, Gordon, Jones, and Slemmer, No: None, Abstain: Schoenberger. The motion was approved (3-0-1).
Report of the Mayor
The Mayor reported that MORPC had approved his request to consider the broken storm drain along Olentangy Blvd as an emergency. With this designation, MORPC will cover 90% of the cost of repairs. When the grant is actually received, the village will work with Burgess & Niple to decide which of the options discussed at the April Council meeting would be the final decision. While the option to install a manhole may be the best, the extra costs vs. the benefits would need to be weighed. Gordon added that he wished that congratulations to the Mayor for seeking and receiving this funding be placed on the record.
The Mayor stated that he had met with with MORPC to discuss their small village programs. One topic that he mentioned was the possibility of adding a playground to the village. The Mayor has wanted to install a playground, most likely at the end of the ravine, in the grass along Olentangy. MORPC mentioned that there were several programs by which grants could be offered to help fund such a project. One such program is through Nationwide, which has a grant program to fund playgrounds such as this.
Slemmer mentioned the possibility of using space in the village circle rather than the ravine. The Mayor stated that the village uses the green as its location for the Easter egg hunt and picnic and was not sure if residents would want to lose part of this space. Another issue he had with the circle was the circular traffic pattern that surrounded it. Gordon stated that he felt traffic was more of an issue along Olentangy, but that there is not a perfect location in which to do this.
The Solicitor asked about liability issues, and the Mayor stated that the previous Solicitor had assured Council that liability would not be an issue. The Solicitor also asked about the timing of such a project, given that Council will be asking voters to approve a tax increase for the general fund as well as a bond levy. The Mayor stated that if this project were to happen, it would be primarily funded through grants and other programs and would use a minimum of taxpayer money. He mentioned that MORPC had funds set aside for villages and that the number of villages in Ohio are decreasing, raising the probability of receiving such funding.
The Mayor reported that there has been an increase in drug activity at Rush Run Park, which is at the end of Olentangy. He spoke with the Worthington Police and will speak with the Franklin County Parks Department about this issue. He would like them to post a sign with park hours stating that the park is closed after dark, which would allow Police to enforce this against anyone in the park after this time. Gordon agreed to speak with the Worthington Police to be more vigilant about this and to enquire about what the village could do to help with this. The Solicitor agreed to check with the City of Columbus Parks Department about requesting such a sign.
Report of the Street Commissioner
The Street Commissioner was not in attendance. In his place, the Mayor updated Council on a couple of previous issues. The first was that the broken hydrant along Falmouth was taken and its location was unknown. The second issue was that it was time to schedule a lift station cleaning and that this would be done by the next Council meeting. The third issue was that there had been no progress on the stormwater management plan since the last meeting.
Report of the Solicitor
The Solicitor reported that she had distributed an email concerning answers to several questions on the possibility of a bond issue to Council members. She had spoken to Dennis Schwallie, the Bond Counsel at Dinsmore & Shohl, who had stated that fees associated with such an issue are generally about 2%. She stated that Schwallie also felt that the village would be able to find a buyer for such a bond, though this can prove a problem for smaller cities and villages, and in this case, may need to be a bank. The Mayor updated Schoenberger on the issues facing the village, including the need to increase property taxes to bolster the general fund, as well as the infrastructure project.
Report of the Planning Commissioner
The Planning Commissioner was not in attendance. She had submitted a report stating that the Commission had a special meeting on April 27 to complete approval on a COA application on which there had been unanswered questions on lot coverage at the regular April meeting. There was no Planning Commission meeting in May.
Report of the Marshal
There was no report from the Marshal, as there was no Police report.
Report of the Web Manager
The Web Manager was not in attendance and there was no update.
Comments from Residents on Agenda Items
There were no comments on agenda items.
Committee on Infrastructure
The Clerk Treasurer distributed a 5 year projection of village finances and included several scenarios, which are listed below:
Renewal of the current 5 mill levy. This would not update the tax revenue for the increase in home valuations.
Replacement of the current 5 mill levy. This would update the tax revenue for the increase in home valuations.
Replacement of the current 5 mill levy and the addition of a 2.5 mill levy, for a total of 7.5 mills.
Replacement of the current 5 mill levy and the addition of a 5 mill levy, for a total of 10 mills.
The projection showed that under scenario A, the village would continue to lose about $20-$30K over the next 5 years, further decreasing the village’s reserves. Under scenario B, the village would break even over the 5 years. Under scenario C, the village would show net income of $60K per year and under scenario D, the village would show net income of $130K per year.
Slemmer felt that since the village would be putting the infrastructure funding issue on the ballot as well, Council should ask for the lowest possible amount for the general fund. Because scenario B only showed minimal losses and gains, she felt that this was the best option. The Mayor stated that there may be additional gains from this scenario if the infrastructure project were approved, as this would likely mean that the village would spend less than planned for repairs & maintenance of the streets. Slemmer pointed out that if the infrastructure issue were not passed, however, that scenario B could have higher repair & maintenance costs as well. Jones inquired as to whether there were expenses that could be cut if Council decided to go with scenario B. Gordon replied that there were no expenses that could be easily cut and make a difference in the bottom line without sacrificing services to the residents of the village. The primary expenses of the village are Police & fire coverage, snow removal, and waste removal.
The Mayor stated that he felt most comfortable with scenario 3. Given that cuts in state funding have led to the village running deficits for several years, he would like to make up these funds to put the village on more solid footing. He felt that Council should lay out the cuts that the village had faced and make it clear that the village is attempting to restore the reserves lost by these cuts and that it would decrease this rate once these were restored. Jones stated that the future is unknown and that Council cannot promise to reduce these rates, given that they do not know what the village will be facing. Schoenberger questioned what the village’s options would be if the village were faced with something coming up that it could not afford and the Mayor replied that these options would include approaching MORPC or other entities for funding or filing for bankruptcy, fiscal watch, or fiscal emergency, among others.
Slemmer questioned what the village’s strategy for disseminating the talking points for the two ballot issues. The Mayor stated that Council would likely go house to house and speak with the residents to educate them on the issues. Gordon stated that Council needed to identify about 10 residents who would be willing to go and speak with neighbors to educate them as well to help sell this. Jones stated that the village would need to hold town hall meetings to inform residents, though the Mayor replied that those were rarely well attended.
The Clerk-Treasurer and Jones agreed to outline the talking points for both the general fund levy and the infrastructure levy. Jones suggested that these points include a breakdown of expenses in the village to detail that the village is not wasting any money on frivolous expenses. The Solicitor recommended that the detail of cuts in state funding be included as well. The Mayor suggested adding the facts that the village has cut the Newsletter Editor and Marshal positions to reduce spending. Jones suggested adding a calculator to the website to assist residents in calculating the impact of these increases based on the value of their house.
Council agreed that it would seek a 2.25 mill increase in addition to the replacement of the current 5 mill levy to fund the general fund of the village. Combined with the 2.65 inside millage, this would bring the total village property taxes to 9.90 mills exclusive of any amount voted to fund infrastructure improvements. Council voted to pass resolution 2015-11, as detailed below.
The Clerk-Treasurer distributed a document detailing the amount of funding needed for the infrastructure project based on additional grants and other funding received. Council agreed to base the funding decision on the entire $7 million estimate provided by Burgess & Niple. Council agreed to seek a 14.7 mill levy to fund this infrastructure improvement project. Council voted to pass resolution 2015-12, as detailed below.
Resolution 2015-11 Resolution 2015-11, A Resolution Requesting the County Auditor to Certify to the Village Information Needed to Enable the Village to Levy a Tax in Excess of the Ten Mill Limitation was introduced by Jones. This resolution requested certification of the funds to be raised by a replacement of the current 5 mill levy and an additional 2.25 mill levy, for a total of 7.25 mills. Jones moved and Gordon seconded the motion to waive the three readings of this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (4-0). Jones moved and Gordon seconded the motion to adopt this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (4-0).
Resolution 2015-12 Resolution 2015-10, A Resolution Requesting the County Auditor to Certify to the Village Information Needed to Enable the Village to Pass a Bond Issue, and to Declare an Emergency was introduced by Jones. This resolution requested certification of the funds to be raised by a 14.7 mill levy to fund a $7 million bond issue. Slemmer moved and Jones seconded the motion to waive the three readings of this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (4-0). Jones moved and Slemmer seconded the motion to adopt this resolution. The motion passed unanimously (4-0).
There were no expenses to approve.
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 June 29 (Note Date Change) at 7:00 at the Thomas Worthington High School.
There being no further business, moved and Gordon seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion was approved unanimously (4-0). The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 pm.