Village Council discusses Sewer rates, Safe Routes to School Project

By ZAK GRIMM

With all members present, the Fredericktown Village Council met for a regular meeting on January 16, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the Municipal Building to discuss matters concerning the Village.

Ordinance 2016-59 detailed a slight increase in monthly rates for Village sewer usage, including those not within the Village limits but still connected to Fredericktown’s sewer system. The measure had been in discussions for two meetings prior to January 16th, and Council was prepared to approve or deny the legislation on Monday night.

“On further review, depending on the year, the Finance Committee determined that the erosion of carryover balance in the Sewer Fund was greater than we initially had discussed in the First Reading,” said Councilman James Hobson.

“That carryover erosion was more in the line of $65,000 to $70,000 a year. “The proposed revenue to be seen from sewer rate increase was going to be more in the realm of about $35,000. So, we had some discussion in the Finance Committee about how we would subsidize that—perhaps through the General Fund, or at least keep an eye on it and be able to make the decision if we would subsidize it.”

“We were going to try to find a way to fill that gap at this point, instead of having to come in today and increase the full amount of the erosion.”

“We’ve got a carryover balance, which is a good thing, so we can absorb some of the problem and reduce expenses, but we know we can’t continue to do that forever. So, that’s why we put forth the increase, which [accounts for] roughly 50% of the amount that we’re running short each year.”

According to Hobson, despite the adjustments from the First Reading to the Third, the numbers are still accurate, and account for the fact that usage will change, thus causing changes within the fund.

Council voted unanimously to accept Ordinance 2016-59.

Resolution 2017-01 came from a letter from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), asking the Village to express support for the designation of a US/State Bike Route to be implemented in the Village. This measure, created by a partnership between ODOT, the Village and the Adventure Cycling Association, does not constitute a new bike trail, merely that an established group of streets be designated a US/State Bike Route, as per the wishes of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The measure also does not put any financial burden on the Village, which Councilman James Hobson asked to be made clear within the Village’s version of the legislation—Ordinance 2017-01.

As approved by Council on Monday night, the US/State Bike Route will consist of Sparta Road to Columbus Road, then from Columbus Road to Miami Avenue, continuing from Miami Avenue to the Owl Creek Bike and Pedestrian Trail (OCT), and from the OCT north to State Route 95 and on toward Butler.

According to ODOT, it is their responsibility to erect signage designating such a route, as well as promoting the distinction on their website.

Resolution 2017-02 detailed the yearly reiteration and designation of Fredericktown’s proposed membership in the Regional Planning Commission, whose purpose is to allow for all municipalities to have a voice in determining the development and growth of their respective towns, villages and cities, and to promote such ideals, including public health, safety, convenience comfort, prosperity and general welfare.

From the Village, Administrator Bruce Snell and Andy Fox will serve as Regular members, while Councilmen Ray Brewer and Doug Turpen will serve as Alternates.

Council agreed to allow these members to serve on the Regional Planning Commission for 2017.

According to Village Administrator Bruce Snell, the installation of new and improved lighting on Butler Boulevard, 2nd Street and Ottawa Avenue has not yet been completed by AEP, but he assured Council that he’d spoken to representatives whom said the project will happen as soon as possible. Snell said that the project, in all, will cost the Village $800 to $900.

Furthermore, Snell also said that, to the best of his knowledge—and that of Police Lieutenant Kyle Johnson, services from the Rainbo Clean Coin Laundromat had not yet resumed after a recent but short-lived fire had occurred there early in January. Pizza Dock has resumed operations, however. According to Mayor Jerry Day, Zoning Inspector Andy Fox “will confirm” that everything within the Rainbo Clean business is up to code before operations continue.

The Safe Routes to School project, which Snell said at the January 3rd meeting might be in jeopardy of completion because of changes leading to a possible, substantial cost to the Village—is back on schedule to be put out to bid in the spring of this year.

“What we did to make [an at-no-cost project] possible for [the Village] was to remove the component regarding replacing sidewalk on West Sandusky Street. There is still one parcel where they’ll be replacing sidewalk, because they’ve already expended federal funds for right-of-way acquisition, and to change that they’d either have to reimburse the federal government, or carry out that part of the project.”

“They’re going to replace that part of the sidewalk, and the rest of the sidewalk will be eliminated [from consideration for replacement]. All the new sidewalk that was proposed, they’re still going to do. It’s right around 5,000 linear feet of sidewalk around, to and from the school.”

“It’s a really good public-safety cause, and should be carried out on schedule this spring, and construction will take place over the summer,” Snell added.

The landslide on the Owl Creek Trail that had occurred sometime during the week prior to or weekend of Saturday, January 14th has been cleaned up, said Snell. The OCT remains closed from Mill Street to the site of the former Mizer property (and future site of a new green-space park) until further notice to all traffic—as the Village works to decide on a solution to the problem, which could very well occur again, as a great deal of the embankment remains unstable and could fall again.

Additionally, there are two electric poles which were heavily damaged in the landslide, and the Village will work with CenturyLink to replace those poles before the OCT can reopen at the Mill Street access.

Currently, the trail access is blocked by “Police Line Do Not Cross” tape, as it was suggested that Road Closed signage be erected. This came from concerns of liability to the Village, should someone break the law and access the trail despite its announced, obvious closure.

“We certainly don’t want anybody to get hurt, that’s why we closed it,” said Snell. “Public safety is paramount. But, at the same time, it is a component of the Recreation District, and is covered by Recreational Immunity—eliminating the Village from liability, as it was an act of God that caused it. We’re trying to be cautious and keep people out of there. We want to fix it as soon as we can.”

In a meeting between Snell, Mayor Day and Consolidated Cooperative, among learning of many funding and grant opportunities for utilities and other services, Snell and Day were also made aware of the fact that Consolidated is very willing to offer assistance to individuals and households whom are affected by “catastrophic emergency situations,” even if residents are not a part of their utility network. Snell provided brochures to Council members detailing funding and grant opportunities.

Council will meet again on February 6, 2017 at 7:00 in the Municipal Building. All residents are welcome to attend with questions or concerns for your elected officials.