President of Council Marjorie Harlow called Council to order on July 16, 2008, at 7:00
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance. Mrs. McNear gave the invocation.
Mr. Vanover took roll call. Present were Council members Danbury, Diehl, Galster, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and Harlow.
The minutes of June 18, 2008 were approved with six affirmative votes. Mr. Danbury abstained.
COMMITTEE AND OFFICIAL REPORTS
Civil Service Commission - no report
Rules and Laws - no report
Finance Committee Mr. Wilson said hopefully you have all seen the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that was put in your bins.
Mr. Diehl said on page 16 of the report it shows a six percent decline in income tax. Is that a decline in salaries or the number of people living in the City?
Mr. Osborn replied it is a combination of things. Im sure there has been some decline in payroll but the bigger fluctuation were seeing is in corporate profits. We have a couple of bigger companies that have fallen in the habit of overpaying and then taking a credit. That has a great deal to do with it.
Mr. Diehl said the total employee count for the City is 40,438. How does that compare to last year?
Mr. Osborn responded I dont know. This relates to the number of withholdings made by the Tax Department during the course of the year. The income tax is a very volatile source of income and subject to double digit swings.
Mr. Diehl said I want to commend you for all the effort that went into this report. Mr. Osborn said that credit goes to Jeff Williams, Finance Officer. We have seven awards so far from the National Finance Officers Association relating to CAFR which is a highly sought after compliance standard. This will be our eighth CAFR in a row.
Planning Commission Mr. Galster said they had a proposed graphics panel for Dave & Busters. They had proposed six 75 square foot display panels. The board gave the applicant the latitude to go up to 150 square feet per panel and submit that to the board for final approval. That was approved 7-0.
Board of Zoning Appeals - Mr. Danbury said Mr. and Mrs. Cassedy, 507 Dimmick Avenue were in. They came before the board in March and wanted to construct a solar heated log drier next to their garage approximately four feed wide, 12-15 feet long and 7 feet high. He was going to store seven cords of wood in there. They already have two free standing buildings on their lot. The board denied it. He appealed to the Building Department and Mr. McErlane said it is an accessory structure. He came in last night to appeal it to us. The only thing we could vote on was to determine Mr. McErlanes assessment that it is a structure. This was turned down by a 5-1 vote.
Board of Health - no report
Veterans Memorial Committee Mr. Wilson said the construction is going well. The first grouping of pavers will be in place in time for our dedication on Veterans Day. The second group of pavers will not be in until Memorial Day next year. Jay Dennis is very pleased with the donations we received for the golf outing.
O-K-I - no report
Mayors Report - no report
Clerk of Council/Finance Director - no report
Administrators Report Mr. Osborn said I want to request legislation at the next Council meeting for a contract with CDS to perform the engineering and plan preparation for an improvement to Northland Boulevard running the entire length of the boulevard in our community. It will be full depth repair, partial curb replacement, sidewalk installation on the north side of the boulevard. We have an estimated cost of $948,000. It is our plan to apply for SCIP funding. We have been successful in the past on similar projects and are hoping we can get funding and see this as a 2009 project. The funding for SCIP has several enhancements. There is more money available this round and they have changed the calendar. We can get the money right after the first of the calendar year. The cost of engineering and plan preparation is $77,300.
Mr. Osborn stated our 2008 codification supplement has been reviewed by department directors and we are prepared to submit it to you for legislation. The codification picks up any legislation adopted by Council the previous year and any changes to the State Code that impact our local laws and regulations.
Mr. Osborn said the first phase of the rental property project is an educational phase. The idea is to get the permit inspection list out to all of the rental property owners that we can identify and give them a heads up to whats coming. There is a pretty comprehensive checklist that does make a disclaimer that it is not a totally comprehensive or exhaustive list. The reason for the rental property program is to provide safe and sanitary conditions for those living in those dwellings, to protect the property values not only of those structures but also all the properties in our community. We are in the process of getting this out with a cover letter. I think we are approaching 200 identified properties in the City. We think we will end up with between 300-400 properties. There is no direct line to find out exactly who owns these properties or how many there are. The County is supposed to be compiling a register of rental properties but as of this date it has very few names on it. Most of what we have is from past contact or observation by the Building Department.
Law Directors Report - no report
Engineers Report Mr. Shvegzda reported construction is underway for both the utility relocation and the storm sewer installation for the SR 4 improvements at Crescentville. The contractor feels this will be substantially completed by the end of this year. The blank pavers for the Veterans Memorial have been installed. The installation of the stone cladding is being installed and we anticipate completion by September 2008. The construction drawings for SR 4 southbound lane addition at I-275 will be submitted to ODOT for review this week. An application for OPWC funding will be submitted again. The street program is well underway. SR 4 ODOT paving Sharon Road to Cameron Road and SR 747 Kemper Road to I-275 eastbound plans will be completed this summer with construction to begin in 2009.
Mr. Vanover read a letter from Duke Energy: On June 25, 2008 Duke Energy of Ohio filed notice with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that the company will seek a rate increase for electric service delivery of approximately $86 million or 5.5 percent of total electric revenues to be effective in the second quarter of 2009. Since its last delivery rate raise in 2005 Duke Energy Ohio has invested more than $235 million in reliability improvements and an expansion of its system to meet the new customer demands. The requested increase would be recognized as an additional investment in the rates. The company is also proposing a liability tracker that would allow smaller annual adjustments that would reflect investments in an interactive delivery grid. Commonly referred to as a smart grid these investments in advanced technology help enhance reliability and outage response, reduce meter reading costs and help customers monitor and control energy usage.. . .Marvin Blade
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
ORDINANCE NO. 27 -2008 AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF SPRINGDALES PARTICIPATION IN THE MIAMI VALLEY RISK MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION (MVRMA) WORKERS COMPENSATION GROUP RATING PLAN FOR 2009 AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Parham said it was probably 1991 when the State began to allow employers to join together in a group rating process that would allow you to enter into a group and lower your premium rate. The fact that we have been part of MVRMA over the years has saved us tremendously. In some years standing alone our premiums may have reached about $300,000. As part of the group we paid about $150,000. However, I think the last time our experience was not the best but the group has allowed us to remain as a part of this group. The agreement says you must have a credit rating for the last two years. We did not have a credit rating but we established a process whereby if you do not have a credit rating for three consecutive years then you have to leave the group. This year I believe we came back into a credit rating but unfortunately we had a couple of losses this year that will put us back outside the credit rating. Being able to participate in the group has saved a couple hundred thousand dollars for the organization.
Ordinance 27-2008 passed with six affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 28-2008 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. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Danbury asked do we have an off-site backup location?
Mr. Osborn replied we do not other than we take master drives to other buildings and rotate them. The new system we are installing has a backup appliance that will be housed at the Public Works Department so that we can have constant backup. So if our system goes down at the City building the server down there will back up all of our data and well lose only about two minutes of operation. The price is going up more than ten percent but we are installing a more comprehensive system. We need more capacity and faster speed. The contract before you this evening is for the maintenance of the new system.
Mr. Danbury asked if a tornado comes through here would we have access to an off-site computer?
Mr. Osborn responded Next Step has an office in their facilities where they can have us up there should the need arise.
Ordinance 28-2008 passed with six affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 29-2008 AN ORDINANCE CONSENTING TO THE EXECUTION OF AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF HAMILTON COUNTY, OHIO AND GENERAL ELECTRIC AVIATION PROVIDING FOR THE ADOPTION OF A PROJECT WHICH WILL RELOCATE A BUSINESS WITHIN THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE AND CREATE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN AN ENTERPRISE ZONE OF HAMILTON COUNTY AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Danbury made a motion to adopt and Mr. Galster seconded.
Mr. Jeff Tulloch introduced Cliff Morehead from GE Aviation and Ray Roll from Bearcreek Capital. They will be parties to the Enterprise Zone agreement along with Hamilton County. The tax abatement associated with the enterprise zone is for fifteen years for 100 percent of the taxes associated with the project. We will be attending a meeting tomorrow morning at the Commissioners Office where they will give their consent to the legislation. Subsequent to that the State of Ohio will need to provide a location waiver associated with this project.
Mr. Osborn stated there has been no agreement reached with GE. They have not made their decision yet. We are simply positioning ourselves to remain competitive in order to meet the time schedule that GE has laid out for its decision making process.
Cliff Morehead, State Government Relations Manager for GE, said Ive been thrilled at the amount of response from the City of Springdale. Ive been here several times to meet with the Mayor, Mr. Osborn and Mr. Tulloch and they have been very responsive. The decision hasnt been made. There has been no stone unturned by this City to meet the needs, wants and desires. My partner in this and some of the other folks have nothing but great things to say about all of you.
Ordinance 29-2008 passed with six affirmative votes.
Mrs. Harlow said I went to Safety Day and it was really nice. I thank you for having that.
Mayor Webster said that was the second year for that and I think it will grow over time. I would like to publicly thank Greg Karle and his staff for the Hometown Fourth. The primary person behind that is Sharon Casselman and Id like to thank her personally, as well as Greg, Jackie and Matt. I have talked to absolutely no one who did not enjoy that event. It went extremely well and I think we should feel proud that we can put on a family 4th of July event alcohol-free. If the weather had cooperated it would have been even better.
Mr. Wilson said most of the people I spoke with were pleased but they were families with children. Im curious as to individuals and families who didnt have kids.
Mr. Galster stated the people who went had a great time. It was packed. I got some comments about the change. I think its a matter of education to let people know about the change and the reason it came about. Those people might want to try the Taste of Springdale.
Mr. Danbury and Mrs. Harlow said they heard positive comments about the event.
Mr. Danbury said Mr. Okum requested that we bring before Council consideration for charging for a variance fee. He did a survey of other cities in the surrounding area. Sharonville charges $25 for a residential variance, Forest Park $100, Montgomery $250, Fairfield $25, Hamilton County $50. Blue Ash does not charge. It was not a unanimous decision but the majority recommended that Council consider a $50 fee for residential and $100 for a commercial variance.
Mayor Webster stated the primary purpose of the Board of Zoning Appeals is for somebody to plead hardship. I think its intolerable to want to levy a fee on somebody who wants to come before the board and plead a hardship. I guess you could consider it a hardship and if the board grants the variance, then you rebate the money. The board probably hears thirty cases a year. Im not in favor of it.
Mr. Danbury responded we had one gentleman come in who wanted a shed within two feet of the property line. On the site map it looked like he wanted to put it in his neighbors yard. The variance was denied and he was back at the next meeting with the same thing.
Mr. Wilson suggested a deposit for an appeal and if the person shows up for the meeting, he/she gets the deposit back.
Mr. Diehl said money was secondary. We pass laws that people should conform to. People who come to BZA do not follow the rules. The feeling of the board was if they had to pay a fee they may make more effort to follow the rules. I like the idea of returning the money if the variance is granted.
Mr. Galster said Id like a copy of the research to review. I agree that the Board of Zoning Appeals is for people who want an exception outside the regular code. I think its just to make sure that people do their due diligence and try to comply with the code as opposed to applying for a variance.
Mr. Diehl said I was the one who made this suggestion. If you want to break the rules you have to pay for it.
Mr. Squires said we just passed legislation that says that ignorance of the laws is no excuse.
Mr. Osborn said Mr. Squires is referring to a new policy for the Board of Zoning Appeals brought about by a court case that essentially changed what the law says about what justification you have to give to grant a variance. No longer do you have to prove hardship but there is other criteria that you have to meet. In that same document it does say specifically that ignorance of the law does not provide basis for a variance.
Mrs. Harlow said I sat on that board for quite some time and we did not have a lot of people not show up. I would not be in favor of a fee. I dont want to put any barriers up for residents who want to repair or improve their properties. It would be good for everyone to look at the research before we make a decision.
Mr. Galster said we encourage repair and improvements. When we saw a number of sheds growing larger we saw the need to modify the code. But if all of a sudden you have the same number of sheds that continue to want to get bigger, at what point do you say we need to stop doing this or we need to modify the code again. If there are repeat applicants maybe we need to make a change.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Planning Commission - August 19, 6 p.m.
Board of Zoning Appeals - August 19, 7 p.m.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Mr. Danbury made a motion that Council go into executive session as a committee of the whole to discuss possible economic development. Mr. Galster seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Council went into executive session at 8:20 p.m. and reconvened at 8:50 p.m.
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT - none
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
CDS engineering work for Northland Boulevard - August 19
2008 codification supplement - August 19
Council adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Marjorie Harlow, President of Council
City of Springdale Council
July 16 2008