President of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on June
20, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance. Mr. Knox gave the invocation.
Mr. Knox took roll call. Present were Council members Galster, Harlow, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and McNear. Mr. Danbury was absent.
The minutes of May 16, 2007 and June 6, 2007 were approved with six affirmative votes.
COMMITTEE AND OFFICIAL REPORTS
Civil Service Commission - no report
Rules and Laws - no report
Public Relations - no report
Public Health, Safety & Welfare - no report
Public Works Mr. Wilson said there is essentially no change to the 2007 street program.
Public Utilities - no report
Mrs. McNear asked Mr. Shvegzda, did you call about the flags in the roadway?
Mr. Shvegzda replied Mr. Butsch took care of that.
Capital Improvements Mr. Wilson stated the SR 747 CSX grade separation work is substantially completed. The date for the street light installation by Duke has not been established yet. The replacement of approximately forty-six feet of a culvert that did not have the proper transition section installed by the original contractor is under construction. Due to the cost related construction of this project initial outside funding has been requested. An application has been submitted to OKI for additional funding. This application will be rated by OKI on June 19. The SR 4 continuous northbound lane north of Glensprings Stage 3 design was submitted in May with construction scheduled in 2009. The construction date may be changed to start in 2008. The SR 4 ODOT urban paving from Glensprings to 800 feet south of Crescentville Road is substantially completed. Construction for the Kemper Road improvements at Tri-County Mall will start July 9 and is expected to be complete in late August. A presentation of the Veterans Memorial will be made to Council of the final plans on July 18. Construction on the Church Street parking project is scheduled for August. The Fire Department Phase II project should be completed in October.
Finance Committee - no report
Planning Commission Mr. Vanover reported a conditional use permit for outdoor seating at Bargos, 12140 Springfield Pike was the first item. It is not really seating. It will be a smoking area. That was approved 6-0. The second request was for signage on an awning at Mirror Imaging in the Springdale Town Center. The covenants of the development call for signage on the facade of the building. This was approved until June 1, 2008 and then they have to conform. Tri-County Mall received approval for a slight modification to the south elevation which will be Ethan Allen Store. We are waiting for comments from the Law Director on Zoning Code amendments.
Board of Zoning Appeals Mr. Squires said the applicant who lives at 1271 East Crescentville ordered and got a permit for an 8 x 10 utility building. The company delivered and erected a 10 x 16 shed. The inspector noticed the size difference. She was granted a variance to keep the shed. The resident at 640 Smiley requested a variance to erect a fence within the setback of a side street. This had to be tabled because the resident to the north has a fence that exceeds beyond the corner of their home. That is the fence this applicant wants to connect with. The board felt that we had to deal with the first fence first. An oversize prefab shed was requested at 170 Ruskin Drive. There are two existing structures in the yard already and the applicant agreed that they would have to be removed. The variance was granted. The resident at 11058 Glenfalls Court is asking for two accessory buildings on the property and that was tabled until July. The next item was a request for a decorative fence in the front yard at 507 Dimmick Avenue. This was denied 6-1. However, the board chairman is sending this to Planning Commission to determine if a wrought iron fence of this nature is a fence or an adornment. A privacy fence eight feet high was requested at 11684 Neuss Avenue. The property dips and then comes up again. The first fifty feet will be six feet high; however, in order to keep the last twenty-four feet uniform in height he will have to have eight foot boards. This was granted 7-0. An oversized accessory building was approved for 672 Cloverdale Avenue.
Board of Health - no report
Veterans Memorial Committee Mr. Wilson said they met with CDS this afternoon to review and modify Phase I priorities for the memorial. Because of value engineering the start date is tentative. The golf date will be September 12.
O-K-I Mr. Knox said there was a lengthy presentation having to do with inter-module transfer facilities. The thinking in Butler County is that they need to have a facility. They are asking cooperation with other entities. They dont have enough room in Fairfield and it will probably go around Middletown. The excess STP funding that amounted to $8.6 million had fifteen applicants for those funds.
Mr. Vanover said there is already an operation at Crescentville and Mosteller. Was there any consideration of expanding there?
Mr. Knox replied they said the Sharonville yard is maxed out.
Mayors Report Mayor Webster stated I got a phone call from our Duke rep telling me they are asking for a 5.8% increase in natural gas prices and an electrical increase to be phased over a couple of years ranging from eight to thirteen percent.
Mayor Webster read a proclamation proclaiming July 2007 Parks and Recreation Month.
Clerk of Council/Finance Director - no report
Administrators Report Mr. Osborn said if I understand correctly the Duke increases are a commercial rate only, not residential. Theyll be coming back later for residential, but certainly it affects our economy and us as a consumer of electricity.
Mr. Osborn said we did a resolution a meeting or two ago regarding the CSX grade separation funding. Presently we project that the project is $2,134,000 under-funded. OKI announced a special round of the STP (Service Transportation Act) for this spring using $8.4 million in surplus funds. Based on the point system our project has been ranked number one. While this is just a recommendation coming out of the prioritization committee of the Inter-Modal Coordinating Committee of OKI, typically this is an accepted recommendation. We had applied for $1,7525,000, which represents eighty percent of the projected shortfall. We did that because STP requires at least a twenty percent match. The projects were evaluated and I received a call from Mark Payne of OKI and he inquired if the City would be willing to accept something less than the amount we had applied for, $1.3 million and I said yes. We will be funded in the amount of $1,307,363. We had applied for $907,200 in construction funding and we will get 100 percent of that. We applied for $800,325 in additional right-of-way funding and they have indicated they will give us 50 percent of that. When you take the new money into consideration and reduce the current predicted shortfall, the new number is $826,637. While this is a great opportunity for us to close the gap significantly, were still not out of the woods and there is a projected shortfall on the project. The total cost projected is going to change. Its very unlikely we hit the right-of-way number on the head. We think we have been conservative in the number we estimated. We hope that the final number might come in less than what we estimated. On the construction side we can only base our estimates on the information we get back from various elements of the Ohio Department of Transportation, and there are other variables like the railroad force account. The railroad could change without oversight or control by the State of Ohio. We believe the shortfall is around $800,000 and hope it will go no higher.
Mr. Knox stated this is the first of three steps that will take place. It will go to the ICC and then will be decided by the Board of Trustees at the August OKI meeting.
Mayor Webster said I want to compliment Mr. Osborn for his work on this endeavor. Initially we got funding and it was tied into a certain percentage. When they award the project the amount of the award is a fixed number. The percent doesnt float up with increased costs. With all the fiasco of the State having to re-bid the project, the railroad with their shenanigans, the contractor going toes up, etc., the costs continue to escalate where our funding was tied into a fixed dollar amount. Mr. Osborn has really scrambled and pulled in every marker we have with every agency to try to get additional funding.
Mr. Osborn responded I want to thank the Mayor for the kind words but I want to pass a great bulk of that onto CDS because they provided the technical support for this application and it was certainly a team effort.
Law Directors Report (Ken Schneider) - no report
Engineers Report (Don Shvegzda) - no report
Mr. Knox said I have one communication of which the Mayor has already broached the subject. It comes from Duke Energy. It states in part: This letter is to inform you of Duke Energy Ohios intent to file with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio an application related to our gas service. The application will propose an increase in current rates and charges for natural gas service. Duke will seek a 5.8 percent increase in rates. Our latest base rate increase occurred in 2002. We anticipate the new rates will become effective in the spring of 2008. In the application Duke will propose a thing known as Rider AMRP (Accelerated Main Replacement Program) to allow them to continue making filings to annually update the charges to recover the cost of its cast iron and bare steel main lines and related service lines. The goal of the project is to replace cast iron and bare steel distribution mains of twelve inch diameter or less and related service lines. Duke expects to complete the program in nine more years, in 2015. Dukes main replacement program has been quite successful however. During the period 2001 to 2006 the company replaced 492 miles of cast iron and 67 miles of bare steel gas mains. In 2002 Duke repaired 6,223 leaks. By 2006 they only had to repair 4,913. The lower leak rate has improved public safety and led to a decrease in Duke Ohios maintenance expense. Since 2001 Duke has used the rider AMRP to credit customers with approximately $8.5 million in maintenance savings resulting from this program. Duke seeks to expand Rider AMRP to allow it to recover costs for replacing service head adaptor style risers. The risers are the item that connects the service line to your meter. Dukes total cost to complete the main replacement and the riser replacement program during the next nine years is estimated at approximately $599 million. For residential customers this will result in an additional charge of approximately $1.53 per month during the first year of the program beginning in the first year of 2008. Mr. Knox said I will read the next to last paragraph and you can make your own decisions. Finally, Duke also proposes a new rate structure for delivery services that is not based upon the volume of gas delivered. Rather than allowing our annual delivery revenue to fluctuate with volumes flowed, we will compare our sales each year to a benchmark which is where the normalized level of sales approved by the Public Utility Company of Ohio and our most recent general gas rate case adjusted for new customers since that time. We will then compare our actual sales to this baseline and provide customers a credit or charge to their accounts for the difference. Sandra P. Meyers, President, Duke Energy
Mayor Webster said the numbers I gave are consistent with that although I just got a voice mail from Marvin Blake. I didnt hear anywhere in that letter that those only apply to commercial. Were you implying just the electric part of it, Cecil?
Mr. Osborn replied its my understanding that both are commercial. In a person to person conversation with Mr. Blake he told me these were not residential changes.
Mr. Vanover asked does the City have the same option to purchase from outside providers that residents have?
Mr. Osborn replied we have looked at it in the past and we went with a dba provider through CG&E saving money. They discontinued that. The history has been that the southwestern Ohio region has not been highly competitive because Cinergy has held relatively low rates compared to the rest of the State.
Mayor Webster said from that last paragraph I get that if we have an extremely cold winter we will pay a lot of money. If we have a light winter they will raise the rates and we will still pay a lot of money.
Mr. Knox said another company tried to get into the market and sent a communication to our homes. They promised a rate of 8.04 per thousand cubic feet. Ive been monitoring that for one and a half years and I saw one day where the rate that is charged nationally was above 8.04. It would have cost you money if you had gone that way.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
ORDINANCE NO. 34-2007 AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF SPRINGDALES PARTICIPATION IN THE MIAMI VALLEY RISK MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION (MVRMA) WORKERS COMPENSATION GROUP RATING PLAN FOR 2008 AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Osborn stated we have been participating in this program since 1993. Certainly when it comes to a workers compensation ratings process it is better to be in a pool because you are spreading the risk over a bigger population. Its even better to be in a group that is selective about its composition. The MVRMA group ratings pool does not include all members of MVRMA. Some members of MVRMA have ratings that make them ineligible to be in this pool because they are too high. A couple of years ago we were put on probation because we were slipping. We were close to being dropped from the pool. Its a real cost savings to the City and we encourage you to adopt the ordinance.
Ordinance 34-2007 passed with six affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 35-2007 AMENDING ZONING CODE SECTION 153.902 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE AFFECTING VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION
ORDINANCE NO. 36-2007 AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO RENEW THE CONTRACT WITH NEXT STEP NETWORKING TO PROVIDE NETWORK AND LAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES FOR THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE LOCAL AREA NETWORK AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Mr. Osborn reported we have dealt with this company for more than ten years. They are working to hold IT costs down and going to more remote maintenance. I recommend adoption of this ordinance.
Mr. Galster asked are all the computers on the same system now?
Mr. Osborn replied most of the workstations are. Some of the peripheral computers are not. A disaster recovery process request is to come. The volume of data and number of workstations keeps growing. Weve only had one period where the system has gone down.
RESOLUTION R12-2007 ADOPTING THE TAX BUDGET OF THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE FOR THE YEAR JANUARY 1, 2008 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2008
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Harlow seconded.
Mr. Osborn said the basis for this resolution and the tax budget is a requirement in the Charter and the State law. The purpose is to allow the County Budget Commission to see that are our projected expenses for the 2008 budget do not exceed our projected revenues. You can see by the attachment that we are solvent. The expenses are taken from the five year budget.
Mr. Knox said the total revenue figures for this year and next are conservative. I applaud Mr. Osborn and Mr. Williams for their work on this.
Mayor Webster said the bonds have been paid off. We are on course to reach our financial goals. A $3.9 million note is nothing to be ashamed of.
Mr. Osborn said this was a great effort by Jeff Williams. He put the document together.
OLD BUSINESS - none
Mr. Vanover stated I am getting calls from neighbors of residents who still have mulch piles in their driveways. Can we expedite the removal of that?
Mayor Webster suggested they call the hot line. That way they can get an answer right away.
Mr. Galster stated if we dont have something on the books we should.
Mayor Webster said we want to have a housing stock discussion and explore the possibility of licensing all rental units, not just single unit housing. We need to go in with our eyes wide open. We are talking about licensing and inspecting and we will incur additional expense with this program.
Mrs. Harlow said I think that is a good idea. A lot of complaints I get in my district are out rental units. A lot of calls are about the number of occupants in some housing areas. Anything we can do to keep the character of our neighborhoods as single family homes in good quality I would be supportive of.
Mr. Vanover said three of the major infractions of high grass were vacant homes. Two I know for certain were rentals. Its disheartening for other property owners. Theres a different mentality when its yours or when its somebody elses, and it shows. There have been exceptional tenants but we are seeing some downslide.
Mrs. McNear stated we are always looking for different programs in the City and I wonder if we could look at the possibility of having rain garden classes locally. The other thing Ive been noticing about houses is a lot of the roofs are streaked with black marks.
Mrs. Harlow responded that is fungus that is traveling up from the south. They do have roofing materials now that have an anti-fungal coating. You can also put a copper strip across your roof that is supposed to deter that. There are also some washes you can use to help remove that.
Mr. Galster said we are talking about tenants not keeping up their property. Its the landlords who are not keeping up the property. The landlord is making money. He uses it as a business. He does business in the City and we need to make sure he is doing business in a manner that everybody else does business in the City. It will allow us to not only document the condition of the property, but also the number of people who are in it. We will be able to take some square footage readings from some new language in the Building Code. Maybe its just an opportunity to inform the landlord of issues he has on the property and things that are expected of him. At the same time this is probably going to be a man or two if its going to be an inspection of all rental property in Springdale. If we dont take care of rental properties in this City we have to decide what kind of city we are going to have.
Mrs. Harlow stated if the landlord has to file papers with the City for a permit and get a license, that will give the City contact information we dont have now so that the City can contact the property owner and not just the person living in the house.
Mr. Vanover said the inspections will yield to some life safety issues.
Mr. Wilson said it appears we have two issues here; the maintenance of the property, both occupied and vacant; and the issue of how many occupants we can put into a building or residence per square footage. We have to find out from a legal standpoint if we as a city can regulate the number of residents per square foot. Are other cities doing this or would we be setting a precedent? I know if you have two children and ones a boy and ones a girl, they have to have separate bedrooms.
Mr. Galster responded those are more Health and Human Services issues. The City of Springdale regulation tries to say based on the amount of square footage of bedroom space and what constitutes as bedroom space can only have so many people occupying so much space. Even though you say they are separate issues I believe the number of people in the house create a more likelihood of blighted and normal wear and tear on a piece of property. Even though they are separate subcategories I think they are very much intertwined, not only the demand it puts on the house and maintenance of the house, but on city services, etc. All those go up based on the number of people in the house.
Mr. Wilson replied I didnt mean they were two distinct issues but two things we have to address. First we have to address the maintenance issue of the exterior of the house and dealing with landlords, and also the occupancy because they are intertwined.
Mr. Galster said we are waiting for some legal feedback but other communities have tried different approaches and I think we are trying to test the waters now to see what language is going to stand the test of time. On property maintenance I dont want to say its just rental property either. In the last two years we have purchased two residential homes because we as a community have allowed it to become such that it was better to take it over than continue to let it sit there. I cant see us continuing to go down that path and having to buy up every home that falls into that category so I think we have to take a much harder stance on all the property maintenance now. Licensing of rental properties allows us to get into homes where the owner is not there. I hear a lot of comments from a lot of residents who get letters about property maintenance who complain about somebody elses property. Well, we need to know about them, see how bad they are and get them all fixed. In the beginning I think we were worried about how many people we would make angry but for every one that was another ten were happy. Its an important program.
Mr. Osborn said we have an ordinance drafted that regulates household occupancy based on the size of the home. Its on Mr. McErlanes desk being reviewed. We intend to have that before you at the next meeting in July. As to what Mr. Wilson alluded to, one of the driving forces behind the idea of having a licensing process is to allow us to get in the house and see how big it is specifically to that particular construction, and how many people are living there.
Mr. Vanover said there have been remodels to homes that are illegal. Theyve made bedrooms out of garages and we dont know the safety issue there. The number of occupants can have an effect on the number of vehicles. We all live in neighborhoods where we only park on one side of the street. When there are eight or nine people who have vehicles its not fair to legitimate owners and property renters who have to suffer with that.
Mr. Squires asked are we on solid legal ground?
Mr. Schneider replied we have drafted legislation. We cannot accomplish everything the committee wanted accomplished but we are trying to accomplish everything permitted within the law. We are faced with a greater expense in hailing this than the Administration wanted to face but we are doing everything that has to be done to keep it legal.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Planning Commission - July 10
Board of Zoning Appeals - July 17
Hometown Fourth - July 4
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
Ordinance 35 - July 18
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Calculation of Occupancy by Square Footage - July 18
Council adjourned at 8:22 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council
City of Springdale Council
June 20 2007