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The Weekly Informer (3/19/2016)

On Monday, March 14th, 2016, at 5:30pm, the following transpired:

Committees (Descriptions sometimes as they appear on facebook page.):

  1. Finance (Members present: Marmie, Cost, Fraizer, Floyd, and Johnson):

  2. Resolution No. 16-24: spending money, with a request to vote on it this Monday.

  3. Someone recently resigned from the tax department, so the tax administrator, Barb Jones, is requesting the former employee’s payout of $4,300 in unpaid “Vacation” time, and $3,750 in “Termination Compensation”. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Fraizer, no discussion, passes 5-0.

  4. Resolution No. 16-26: spending money.

  5. Appropriating $10,603 awarded via a grant from the Licking County Foundation. Money is expected to arrive this month and is set to go towards “upgrades” for TJ Evans, Everett, and Wilson Park. Mrs. Gilkes requests that this get dealt with before the city orders “playground items”. Result: Motion by Floyd, Second by Cost, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  6. Per Service Director Rhodes, disappropriating $500 pre-set in the general fund for a headstone. Result: Motion by Floyd, Second by Fraizer, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  7. Appropriating that $500. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Fraizer, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  8. Ordinance No. 16-06: with an emergency clause, issuing $370,000.00 in bond anticipation notes “for the purpose of paying the cost of improvements to the city’s landfill”. City Auditor Johnson says that this is a simple renewal of an existing bond note and allows us to reduce the principal thereon or even to “issue a long term bond”. He then requests a vote this Monday since the note is due on May 7th and “nobody will start the process…until legislation is in place.” Result: Motion by Floyd, Seconded by Fraizer, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  9. Resolution No. 16-27: with an emergency clause, permitting Service Director Rhodes to secure a no-bid “lease purchase agreement” to acquire a fire truck and to help pay for such via the proceeds from “sell[ing] an existing fire truck”. The fire chief explains that it has been a decade since we last purchased a truck. The purchase he is suggesting is of a truck “with some miles on it”, financed for seven years, and – at $465,000 - for nearly half the cost as the last truck the city purchased. The Chief reports that the maintenance costs of our vehicles has been skyrocketing, with three engines going down last year alone. After Fraizer inquires about further costs for fully equipping the new truck, the Chief notes that we will have to spend another $5,000. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Johnson, no further discussion, Passes 5-0.

  10. Resolution No. 16-28: allowing Mayor Hall to apply for a 2016 Ohio Community-Police Relations Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Office of Criminal Justice Services. Barbara Gilkes – our city grant writer – points out that the State of Ohio is offering grants for law enforcement agencies for which we are eligible to request $30,000 (with a 25% local match required). She also notes that it would be preferable to vote this Monday on the proposal. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Johnson, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  11. Capital Improvements:

  12. There was no business for this committee. Result: *

  13. Service: (Members present: Rath, Cost, Fraizer, Floyd, and Johnson)

  14. In the semi-annual report by the Licking County Health Commissioner, Joe Ebel:

  15. He reveals that the big event of 2015 was the County Health Department taking over a property on Price Road, because it empowers the department to “renovate”.

  16. It is a professional facility – as a clinic for STDs and other concerns – and things have been made easier with absorbing the Medicaid expansion.

  17. Licking County was fortunate to have dodged the Ebola virus.

  18. 2015 Behavioral Health Assessment Survey had 500 respondents, showed that we have a high smoking rate (24%) which has actually declined with less cigarettes smoked per day. A question later on in the presentation by Mr. Rath led to revelation that cigarette smokers were the exclusive target of the survey. Rath pressed on effects of vaping, to which it was noted that the federal regulations are lax in this respect and that we are limited in our knowledge about its long-term effects.

  19. We are making progress on efficiency via training workshop.

  20. Our new sewage rules have produced some results: Pataskala hearings, inspections of aerators in subdivisions with a $45 charge per year for county to inspect.

  21. E-Health records are being promoted.

  22. There is also a new emphasis on the emerging Zika virus: 2-3 residents have been affected, it is still limited to a sexually transmitted disease, mosquitoes pose a threat though the local bugs may not yet be able to carry the virus. The department is going to try and limit local mosquito bites.

  23. Fraizer asked a question about funding, and it was revealed that 1/3 of department’s funding comes from locales, 1/3 from grants, and 1/3 from medical billing. The city and the county are also negotiating a reduction in fees in light of recent property value decline.

  24. Most STD clients come from Newark, but may be due to geographical position of the clinic.

  25. Looking forward to the spring cleaning of trees out of local properties.

  26. Resolution No. 16-25: allowing Service Director Rhodes to secure a contract – without a requirement for bidding out the contract - “for professional engineering services in connection with the design and construction of a Riverbank Filtration System Project”. Mr. Loomis notes that we use water from the North Fork Licking River and that we are assessing a riverbank filtration system, including the use of newly-drilled wells in the area for the purpose of avoiding high chemical costs of treating river water. Rath asks if the wells would be protected from a disaster such as a tanker spill, to which Loomis answered that there are no guarantees. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Cost, no further discussion, Passes 5-0.

  27. Ordinance No. 16-04: with an emergency clause, making some adjustments to our code. Law Director Sassen points out that this is a simple semi-annual update of city ordinances. Result: Motion by Fraizer, seconded by Floyd, no discussion, Passes 5-0.

  28. Ordinance No. 16-05: permitting Service Director Rhodes to secure/renew a contract – relative to Newark’s health services - “with the Combined General Health District of Licking County”. Service Director reminded Council of the debate a decade ago when the merger took place. He noted the hope that it would save the city some money and that the collaboration with the County would enhance our chances at getting grants, and he expressed the belief that these goals have been achieved. Rhodes further detailed how he managed to negotiate a reduction in costs for the city to $738,000 per year, starting in 2018. Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Johnson, Fraizer asks Mr. Ebel what the people of Newark can count on seeing from this partnership in the next five years. Ebel answers that their primary goal is the smoking rate. They are also concerned with three big goals: physical activity, nutrition, and influencing the Farmer’s Market to accept payment from government assistance programs. Fraizer asks about access to care for citizens living far away from the clinic, and Ebel responds that access exists for the uninsured, it’s just that social service workers are confused about how to refer people to such. Further notes issues with dental care access and lack of adequate transportation. Passes 5-0.

  29. Safety (Members present: Fraizer, Blake, Rath, Johnson, and Floyd):

  30. Ordinance No. 16-07: amending our laws pertaining to “vicious dogs”. The Law Director suggested an amendment (16-07A) to improve the “drafting” of the legislation, noting how poorly written a number of city and state laws are. This proposal – as the Law Director states – creates four dog classifications: regular, nuisance (dogs that approach bystanders in a menacing fashion), dangerous (dogs which have injured a person or killed another dog, or which have been three times convicted by their owners as dogs which have escaped and run at large, or which have killed or seriously injured a person whilst defending their home), and vicious (any dog which has – without provocation, and excluding police dogs and dogs protecting their families – killed or seriously injured a person). Rath was curious as to why a dog would be dangerous just for protecting their home, to which the Law Director responded that there is no exemption for home defense under the dangerous dog provision and that we can’t become more lenient than the state standard. Fines/punishment for owners whose dog is running at large imposed as follows: Regular dog (first offense sees a fine of $25-100, no jail, subsequent offenses leads to $75-250, and further offenses a judge can sentence 30 days in jail), nuisance dog (minor misdemeanor on par with speeding ticket with fine $0-150, subsequent offense is a fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 or 0-30 days in jail, third offense equals dangerous dog classification), dangerous dog (first offense leads to fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 fine and 0-30 days in jail, subsequent offense with third degree misdemeanor $0-500 fine and 0-60 days in jail) and vicious dog (hurts a person while at large: first offense: first degree misdemeanor, $0-1,000, 0-180 days in jail and possible euthanization. If the dog kills someone, it is a fourth degree felony with mandatory euthanization. Running at large without harming anyone, the dog is treated as a dangerous dog). Councilwoman Hall asked if the City Dog Warden would be relieved of his duties, to which the Law Director said that would be up to the Safety Director and the police chief. There were some questions for clarification by a citizen (Terry Lyle) about being subjected to penalties if you happen to be temporarily caring for a dog. The Law Director clarified that you would only be legally responsible for the dog once you’ve started taking official steps demonstrating that you were caring for the animal over an extended period of time. Cost asked a question pertaining to limit on number of dogs that one can own, and Sassen clarified that there really is no established limit (other than kennel requirements and the limit of one vicious dog per household). Rath noted towards the end that he intends to make a few more alterations to this proposal before it is all said and done. Result: Motion by Rath, Second by Johnson, motion to amend (as requested by the Law Director) by Rath, seconded by Johnson, no discussion, amended by a vote of 4-1 with Floyd voting against. Then, after a brief discussion between Mr. Blake and the Police Chief about the need for an infrastructure to deal with feral cats as well as a few points made between the Chief and Mr. Rath about how a change in this law will reduce the Animal Control Officer’s workload, it passes 4-1 with Floyd again voting against.

  31. Personnel:

  32. No business. Result: *

  33. Recreation:

  34. No business. Result: *

  35. Street: (Members present: Floyd, Blake, Hall, Rath, Cost, Johnson, and Marmie)

  36. Ordinance No. 16-08: closing an alley – at sixteen feet wide – “located south of Linwood Avenue ”. City Engineer Brian Morehead explains that this alley is “surrounded by property owned by Licking Valley Tractor Sales Inc.” and that its potential buyer wants the closure for their construction plans. Floyd asked if it was true that no departments have objected, and Morehead confirmed. Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Johnson, no discussion, Passes 7-0.

  37. Ordinance No. 16-09: closing an alley “located east of North Hazelwood Avenue”. Same situation as previous request, complete with same inquiry and response as previous measure. Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Johnson, no discussion, Passes 7-0.

  38. Rules:

  39. No business. Result: *

  40. Economic Development: (Members present: Blake, Rath, Cost, Johnson, and Fraizer)

  41. Director Mark Mauter, Mayor Hall, and Heath’s Mayor Johns gave a presentation to the committee pertaining to the Cherry Valley and Thornwood connector TIF proposal.

  42. Newark is ranked 5th in the state for number of bridges at 89.

  43. There is an issue of trucks rolling en route to industrial park in current interchange.

  44. Newark and Heath have mutual interest in sharing the cost as well as success of the project with 25,000 possible jobs; there was no talk about the quality thereof, and Mayor Hall suggested that he didn’t particularly care about whether the jobs were part-time or full-time, just that they were “jobs”.

  45. State Route 37 was no built to withstand its current traffic flow of semis.

  46. Mayor Johns remarked that he calls this interchange the “Thornwood Drive” interchange as opposed to “Cherry Valley” and that this is a “generational opportunity” given its decade-long collaborative effort with multiple jurisdictions.

  47. Would connect 16 with 79 with 70.

  48. It was pointed out that the condition of Thornwood Drive is essential.

  49. The Cherry Valley and Reddington intersection will cease to exist.

  50. Our 6th TIF. TIF money will purportedly be used as follows: for the roadway, utilities, storm water/flood remediation, bridges, and etcetera. There will be a 30 year redirection of up to 100% max exempt possible for what is captured and redirected. The current CRA has a 50% 15 year abatement.

  51. Steve Layman has been involved with affected property owners on shifting from CRA to TIF since the CRA has supposedly lasted 20 years devoid of its desired effect.

  52. No bonds or debt service needed.

  53. Just under 300 additional TIF acres in the limit of 300 contiguous district acres.

  54. Expected to be complete in 2020s with bridge replacement partially funded by LCATs budget.

  55. Newark City Schools, C-TEC, and Heath City Schools all expected to benefit from deal.

  56. Proposed roundabout on River Road to help slow traffic.

  57. Heath wants to extend Central Parkway to connect with Thornwood Drive.

  58. ODOT likes what it sees.

  59. Mayor Hall responded to criticism about Longaberger TIF, citing that it was dependent upon one company.

  60. Ways and Means:

  61. No business. Result: *

Further thoughts:

There were a few activists from the BSL repeal movement who were present. Unfortunately, they all left after the Safety Committee meeting. I can’t stress enough how important it is for citizens to keep an eye on everything that our city is doing in our name.

Prior to the Street Committee meeting – which followed a series of lengthy meetings – Chairwoman Floyd pointed out that the committee over which she was presiding was going to be a “fast committee”. Of course she was just kidding, but I will point out that there is a danger – in terms of transparency and accountability - to government working too fast. Just saying.

In some other extra notes here, after the meeting, Mayor Johns was discussing this proposal with a friend and I and he underlined the potential for living wage job creation as a result of this TIF just north of the railroad; provided that it is “marketed” right. Finally, it was brought to my attention that there may well be a plan in the works to resurrect the contentious debate over part time firefighters this coming Spring…possibly as soon as April.

See you all next week. Thanks for reading.

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