President of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on November 19, 2003, 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 Danbury, Pollitt, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and McNear. Mr. Galster arrived at 8:05 p.m. after attending a COMPASS meeting.
The minutes of November 5, 2003 were approved with two corrections with six affirmative votes.
COMMITTEE AND OFFICIAL REPORTS
Civil Service Commission Ė Mr. Strange said we continued to look at updating our testing of policies and procedures. We are also looking at psychological testing as well. We looked at adding some language to our Civil Service rules concerning prohibited activities for any employees who fall under Civil Service. After looking at the rules we decided we didnít need to add any additional language at this time. Three firefighters completed their one-year probationary period. We processed a request regarding an applicant for the position of patrol officer. We did approve the temporary appointment of a fire captain.
Rules and Laws - no report
Public Relations - no report
Public Health, Safety & Welfare - no report
Public Works Ė Mr. Wilson said there has been no change in the SR 4 resurfacing project. New curb and gutter has been installed on the Cloverdale Avenue project and the placing of self-absorbing membrane has been completed. Final pavement should be completed by the end of November.
Public Utilities - no report
Capital Improvements Ė Mr. Danbury said Old Commons Drive is basically complete. The bid for the grade separation was to be opened today with a pre-construction meeting for December. The Beaverrun Creek restoration is done except for some landscape work.
Finance Committee - no report
Planning Commission Ė Mr. Vanover reported we had approval of the placement of a storage container in the rear of the building at Best Western. The next item was approval of a loading dock and exterior alterations for Ashley Furniture. Mallard Lakes wanted to put decorative flags above their sign on the hill. That was denied 7-0. A proposed sign change at Provident Bank was tabled for no representation.
Mayor Webster said I believe you requested Best Western to paint that container to blend in with the surroundings.
Mr. Vanover said we discussed several options and decided if they painted in the location it would be fairly invisible. We also asked them to improve lighting in the parking lot.
Board of Zoning Appeals Ė Mr. Squires stated the resident at 695 Cloverdale requested a utility building less than five feet from the property line in each direction. The board denied the variance. A residential request at 479 Dimmick was a no-show and was tabled for the second time.
Board of Health Ė Ms. Pollitt said Regulation 1-2003 establishing license fees for food service operations was read for the second time. The Health Commission presented an infrastructure grant budget summary. A new flier has been printed detailing Health Department services. It will be printed in Spanish also. A mammogram van has been scheduled at Hunters Glen as an outreach service. A four-hour employee food safety training class will be offered in English and Spanish. Employers will pay a fee per employee so there will be no cost to the City.
Veteranís Memorial Committee Ė Mr. Wilson reported they met November 6th and discussed fund raising and possible board member nominees. We are working with Cystic Fibrosis Research at Childrenís Hospital, who is sponsoring the third annual Holiday In The Tropics. The Veteranís Memorial is helping to sell tickets and some of the proceeds will go to our memorial fund.
Mayor Webster said he and Mr. Galster recorded a seventeen minute segment and a two-minute flash that will be played on MKV throughout their daily programming.
O-K-I Ė Mr. Knox said there was a resolution passed at the October meeting amending the TIP program. In the additions they added a project to construct Phase II of the streetscape to occur in 2006. The number one project is to construct a streetscape along SR 4 in the vicinity of Mulhauser Road.
Mayorís Report Ė Mayor Webster announced that December 4th the Hamilton County Municipal League will have its holiday meeting at the Community Center. Weíd like to have a good show of Springdale elected officials.
Mayor Webster read a letter from Richard Huddleston, 407 Vista Glen: "Ladies and Gentlemen, My appointment on the Planning Commission will expire concurrent with the date of the elected term of the office of Mayor Webster. Since Iím planning to relocate in the near future to a new residence outside the city, I would not be eligible to stand for reappointment. I wish to formally advise you accordingly. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the city as a member of the Commission since 1995. I have been involved as either elected or appointed to local government in regional planning position for most of the period since 1970." (Mr. Huddleston was formerly a Council member in the city of Blue Ash.) "The period of time that I have had the opportunity to serve the City of Springdale has been very gratifying to me and I hope in some manner I have contributed to the well-being of a fine community. One purpose of this letter is to compliment the extremely capable administration and planning staff whom do an outstanding job in day-to-day operations, and the pro-active planning and development activities for the city. I wish to thank the Mayor and Council, at whose pleasure I have had the opportunity to have served. Finally, to express my appreciation to the members of Planning Commission past and present with whom I have served and my compliments to them for the commitment to maintain the highest standards of planning so necessary for a healthy and vibrant community. Sincerely, Dick Huddleston"
Mayor Webster said Judge Melba Marsh will not be able to be here for our swearing in. Judge Beth Meyers will be swearing us in. Iíve contacted each of you about the unity dinner that will take place afterwards.
Mayor Webster stated the tree lighting ceremony will be November 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Mr. Vanover said I have talked to both of the Council appointees on Planning Commission and they are very interested in continuing.
Clerk of Council/Finance Director - no report
Administratorís Report Ė Mr. Osborn announced we have in hand a proposal for a potential preferred developer agreement on the Old Town properties that the City has assembled. We solicited proposals from various developers and we received one by the deadline. One other party asked for a two-week extension but they were still unable to submit within the extension. We are evaluating the one proposal we have. If we can reach an understanding with that developer in time, we anticipate bringing in an ordinance at your first meeting in December to establish authority to enter into an agreement. The second item deals with the grade separation project that Mr. Danbury reported on earlier. The bid opening was scheduled for today but the State has rescheduled for December 3rd. They put some temporary pavement in the project under two different categories. As a result they were afraid there would be some confusion. Although they could non-perform it once it got to contract, if it came down to a decision between contractor A and contractor B this could muddy the water.
Mr. Osborn continued the County has to make application for Section 8 housing vouchers county-wide. They want to receive additional allocation of 75 from HUD. In order to do that they want a show of support from local jurisdictions. Iíve had a conversation with the Assistant County Administrator expressing to them that the City of Springdale has in the past and will continue to support the subsidized housing in our community. We just consummated an arrangement with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority to bring 100 new units of senior housing into our community but we were reluctant to send them a letter of endorsement because many jurisdictions in the County have not shown the same willingness to accept low income housing. Vouchers are mobile and can move from community to community based on the mobility of the individual who is eligible. When I expressed our concerns about this issue the individual at the County sent me a letter that Forest Park wrote expressly stating these same concerns. They indicate in their letter that they support the County applying for 75 additional vouchers but they point out "regarding the additional authority of 75 additional vouchers, we have two concerns. The first is that although the vouchers are portable and the voucher holder is free to rent in any area they choose, the fact is that Section 8 housing continues to be concentrated in a handful of suburban communities in Cincinnati neighborhoods. As an example, your July 2003 report on assisted housing units shows that only six of the forty-five suburban jurisdictions have fifty or more Hamilton County funded voucher holders. The City is in the top six. In contrast, twenty-six of the jurisdictions have less than ten voucher holders. While the group includes small villages, many jurisdictions have no vouchers or subsidized housing in their communities. " With Councilís consent I would like to write a similar letter to the County saying we have no objection to them acquiring seventy-five additional vouchers, but we strongly encourage them to have an equitable distribution of the vouchers throughout the various communities in Hamilton County.
Mr. Osborn stated firefighter Steve Coley has been appointed to the temporary position of fire captain until such time as the eligibility list can be established and a permanent appointment selected and made.
Law Directorís Report - no report
Engineerís Report - no report
COMMUNICATIONS - none
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
ORDINANCE NO. 43-2003"AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT FOR JAIL SERVICES WITH THE CITY OF SHARONVILLE FOR USE OF JAIL FACILITIES AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Ordinance 43-2003 passed with six affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 44-2003 "AMENDING THE PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE AND LINDVEST AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Osborn said this ordinance and the next are companion pieces. The first ordinance makes amendments to our sales agreement with Lindvest removing limitations on our ability to consummate the sale. This will take out rights and privileges UDF had to void the sale. This now commits them to purchase the property. The one remaining condition is that the City must present them with a covenant not to sue from EPA.
Ordinance 44-2003 passed with six affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 45-2003 "AUTHORIZING AN ADDENDUM TO THE ESCROW AGREEMENT PROVIDED IN THE PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE AND LINDVEST AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Ms. Pollitt seconded.
Ordinance 45-2003 passed with six affirmative votes.
RESOLUTION R16-2003 "RESOLUTION PROPOSING AN INCREASE IN INCOME TAX TO ONE AND ONE HALF PERCENT (1 Ĺ%) WHICH IS A RATE IN EXCESS OF ONE PERCENT (1%) PER ANNUM AS SET OUT IN OHIO REVISED CODE SECTION 718.01( C ) AND DIRECTING THAT THE INCREASE IN INCOME TAX BE SUBMITTED TO THE ELECTORS"
Mr. Danbury said even though the resolution says special election, the date is the date of the primary election in March. Going back to Ordinance 45-2003 people just tuning in may have heard that the City is going to put $100,000 in escrow. The City has been negotiating for fifteen years trying to purchase this property. We are doing this because it was contaminated. This resolution is very important. With the cost of running the City going up every year and weíve lost revenue, itís extremely important for people to consider this. I would encourage them to vote for it.
Mr. Vanover made a motion to amend the resolution. In Section 2 it reads that this tax is for the purpose of "general municipal operations, maintenance, new equipment, extension and enlargement of municipal facilities". There has been some discussion and that is a problem. I donít want the feeling to be that we are extending or enlarging anything. This is to continue the operations as they are today. Mr. Squires seconded.
Mr. Wilson stated I donít think in the resolution we have defined what we are going to be doing. Iím assuming in part that is the hiring of police officers, firefighters, equipment, that this phrase will accommodate. Iíll yield to the Mayor and Mr. Osborn if that is incorrect.
Mayor Webster said I think the language Mr. Vanover put forth covers this. There are no grandiose plans to extend or enlarge the City services. Ten years from now if there was a service the City wanted to provide its residents I donít think you would want the resolution to preclude you from doing that. I think if you say this tax is for general municipal operations it covers a world of things right there; maintenance, new equipment and facilities, permanent improvements of the City and for any other public purpose.
The motion to amend passed with six affirmative votes.
John Lewis, resident of Springdale, said this tax is not going to affect me because Iím retired, but here in our City we have a lot of service people, low income people. I donít see how you can justify it. I know you guys didnít have any problem voting yourself a 50% increase a couple of years ago. Now youíre asking these people to kick in what little bit of salary they make and itís going to it them hard.
Mr. Danbury said weíre looking to do what most other communities around here are doing. We are one of the lower income tax communities. At our last meeting I read a list of items we will have to eliminate; tree service, garbage pickup, leaf pickup. If you want a tree planted you can call up and have a tree planted for free in your yard. If you want to do some work in your house, call the City and weíll put a truck there and haul it away. If your basement floods, the Fire Department will pump it out. If thereís a skunk in your house call us up and weíll come out and take it. Those things are going to go away. I canít speak for the Board of Health but free flu shots and immunizations will have to be looked at. You have to look at the total quality of life that we have here. The seniors are on fixed incomes but I donít think any pensions are going to be affected. If we donít do this, this City has no choice but to eliminate this, this, this and this. Itís like if you have a nice car and you donít put oil in and all of a sudden things start going downhill. We want to maintain the quality of life here. We want everybody to be happy to live here. We donít want them to say "remember the times when we had all this for free." Itís our job to give you and every other resident a safe environment, a place to raise a family, go to the Spirit of Springdale festival where you stand outside and weíll pick you up on a bus. Those are a thing of the past if this doesnít pass.
Mr. Lewis asked how did we get in this position? What caused all of this?
Mr. Danbury replied the revenue has gone down over the past two years. We are about $2.5 million short of where we were. The economy is not as good as everybody thinks so to have a vibrant community you need to have a lot of different types of businesses. Retail is a nice business but itís not as lucrative as a lot of people think. Manufacturing or office space is where you can get a more stable type of tax base.
Mr. Lewis asked where did they go and why did they leave?
Mr. Osborn said itís really more of the matter that the businesses have laid them off or moved out of town. Our revenues in 2002 fell off by over $1.6 million over 2001. Our revenues in 2003 are falling off from the 2002 level. When we saw these revenue shifts occurring in 2002 we made substantial cuts in the budget. Weíve made substantial cuts this year. Some of the things that have been mentioned here are all the cuts that we have left to make. We have not purchased police vehicles in two years. We havenít acquired additional rolling stock such as trucks for two years. We did lease a truck that was absolutely necessary to replace but we didnít buy it. We have postponed major highway repairs. In 2004 we have no money budgeted for street repair. In 2003 we had $250,000. Typically we budget around $900,000 a year. We have cut everything we can in order to try and match the falling revenue. At this point the things that remain to be cut are those that are going to directly affect the services we provide. We tried to cut everything we can without impacting services but through 2003 we have no more of those cuts to make. If revenues donít improve, in 2004 we will have to start cutting employees.
Mr. Lewis asked what kind of revenue are we losing? Is it taxed based people leaving? Maybe thereís a message here.
Mr. Osborn responded with the economy the way it is, companies downsize. They cut their work force and there is less income tax coming in to the City.
Mr. Lewis asked so youíre going to tax the people who stay here to pay for the ones that left?
Mr. Osborn replied we have that choice or we have the choice of cutting services.
Mr. Vanover said Iíve heard it stated "I just work there. I donít reap any benefits." Well, if you donít think Tri-County Mall doesnít command time and attention from our Police Department, look at our police blotter. Someone has to pay for the maintenance of those roads out there. This ideology that I donít live there so I donít tax the city services is ridiculous. During the daytime we are a city of 50,000. At night weíre down to 11,000. Those people cost us money. We are happy to have them. They are our boon but also the bane that goes with that. We had a number of sites in Springdale that GE was leasing. That size is down. Those were good paying jobs. Weíve cut costs. We completely tabled the street repair program this summer. If you donít maintain it, when it finally breaks down itís going to cost you more. If someone has a better suggestion, weíd like to hear it.
Mr. Squires stated we have not had a tax increase since 1972 so itís not like we are mismanaging or overspending funds. There was a time when a business would leave Springdale and within two weeks it would be replaced. Thatís not true today. Because of this decreased revenue, we actually had to borrow money to fix our streets in the Springdale Park division.
Mr. Lewis said I understand a long time ago Springdale had a reputation of paying as they go. In fact, they said Springdale was one of the few cities this size in the State of Ohio that didnít owe any money. I struggle with this increase because of stuff like that. I see the businesses leave. I just worry about these people getting hit in their paycheck. I worked at a place one time where kids didnít make a lot of money and I feel sorry for them.
Mayor Webster said you are talking about the low income people working here and us taking another one-half percent. If someone lives and works in the City of Springdale they are going to pay us another half percent. But if they work in Sharonville, they are already paying 1 Ĺ% and they wonít pay us a penny more. If they work in the City of Cincinnati, they are paying them 2.3% and wonít pay us anymore. Ninety-five percent of the tax we get into this city comes from the businesses or the employees of those businesses, not the residents. There are some residents who live here and work here, those would be in the 95% maybe a little more but not more than 10%. Springdale used to have a property tax that went to support the Fire Department. In 1981 we chose not to renew that. We had enough money in the City treasury that we could support our Fire Department without that additional property tax. Since then we have gone to a full-time fire department, paramedics. We could put three squads out on the street. Thereís not a city in this state, or this country probably, that has less than 11,000 people that has three life squads, fully manned to safe lives. We have that because we do have a work population that approaches 50,000. When we get back to how we are hurting the people of Springdale, if your home was appraised at $100,000, you would pay the City of Springdale real estate taxes $107.80 a year. We collect garbage free of charge. That one charge alone for a single residence costs $85 to $90 a year. That leaves us a grand total of $17.80 to provide all the life squad, fire, police, roads. I donít come before the voters with my head hung low, ashamed of asking for this increase. I think not only this Council, but Councils over the previous administrations have been pretty darn good stewards of the Cityís money. It has been 32 years since the last increase in earnings tax. Granted, we had more income because the income level continued to increase, but when you look back over the years, in 1994 it was $6.4 million and it continued up. The only time we had a decrease other than last year was in 1992. It was a very slight one and the economy bounced back. That hasnít happened this time. We took a downtown last year, $1,060,000 in earnings tax. Weíre down that plus another $300,000 this year. A lot of funds from the State of Ohio have been either cut or frozen. Our costs continue to rise. We try to give our employees a well rounded benefit package. That includes annual pay raises. Itís important that we maintain a topnotch force to provide the services and we canít do that by freezing wages. I think the way we have asked for this increase has the least impact of any tax we could consider levying. If we said we said we need a 1 mil property tax, it would impact every homeowner. We are asking for an earnings tax that will impact less than 10% of the residents. None of us like where we are, but having to do something, we have taken the path that would have the least impact on our residents.
Ms. Pollitt said I wanted to let you know and the people watching on television that we will be having district meetings. Mr. Wilson has one scheduled for November 25, Mr. Vanover January 14 and mine is January 15. We get free inoculations from the State of Ohio because we have a Board of Health. We get some flu vaccine free and we buy some. We do this because if we get it all from the State of Ohio it dictates whom we can give this to. We would like to be able to offer it to high risk people who arenít senior citizens. What it would cost us is not in money for the vaccine but to pay the salary for the nurse and supplies to administer it. Thatís a great service we offer our residents.
Mr. Danbury said people would still have to pay more money than they are used to if this doesnít go through. They would have to pay for their own garbage. The leaves would have to be taken care of. The Community Center is free to senior citizens. That will be a thing of the past. Ninety dollars for a whole family is a great deal.
Mrs. McNear said I worked in Sharonville when Sharonville was faced with raising their taxes to 1 Ĺ% so as a tax payer I wasnít happy about it because my taxes were going to be raised, but as a business person I thought about it. I worked in a facility where we have had the police department, fire department, or the life squad every week, sometimes several times a day. It wasnít long after that that I lost my job. I can tell you that I would rather pay that Ĺ% than lose my job. Sharonville lost a significant portion of their tax base when that facility shut down. Living here I can see the need for it. Working there I could see the need also. It is painful but we have had lots of cuts from the State and Federal governments. Because the economy is so bad a lot of people are out of work. We donít want to do this but we feel it is necessary.
Ms. Pollitt said people talk about some of the renovations weíve made like the streetscape. We need money in our coffers in order for Administration to be able to go out and write grants to get matching funds. Our Administration is one of the best Iíve seen at getting matching dollars for projects.
Mayor Webster said the last thing I want you folks to leave here with is that we are trying to convince you to support this levy with threats. When I see other school districts threaten the tax payers with things like if you donít support the levy weíre going to take away the football team, or the music club, etc., that makes me feel Iím not going to support it. I donít want you to leave here thinking we are threatening to do this. I do want to try to convince you that the problem is severe and we will have to cut back on something. We will be as judicious as possible. One of the last things I would want to do is cut back on our safety. We have to feel safe in our homes, our jobs. I would hate to have to go back to the days when we had to pay for garbage collection. We will have to examine every service that we provide and examine the cost structure. We have to balance the budget.
Mr. Strange said from a Civil Service standpoint I can tell you that there are positions that have gone unfilled for months now. We are bringing back part-time people who are retired. Employees have not been involuntarily reduced yet but they have been impacted by this shortcoming of dollars. From a business perspective, when you cut expenses itís a good short-term fix but you are in a death spiral if you donít generate revenue. The revenues arenít growing in our area. They arenít necessarily leaving. Theyíre just downsizing. If we cut expenses and made up that $1.6 million, next year we will have a problem because asphalt will cost more money, the lights will cost more money. You have to grow the revenue.
Mr. Wilson said the cost of doing business goes up every year and if the revenue doesnít meet it we have a challenge. I work in Fairfield and pay 1 Ĺ% to them. Tomorrow morning if there were two inches or five inches of snow on the ground and I couldnít go to work, I would be very upset. We donít have that problem. We have our streets clean which allows me to go to Fairfield so our residents can go to work. It allows people who work in Springdale to come to work. It allows manufacturers to leave our city to deliver their goods. Itís a win-win situation. If we didnít have our streets clean, a strong police force, fire department and all the services we are getting from this tax base, we would be hurting. As chairman of the Finance Committee I see these numbers, and I am concerned. I donít want to see our city be like a Reading or Norwood where one business goes out and they have to cut things drastically, try to get money from somewhere else and raise taxes. Weíre doing a little forward thinking so in 2004 and 2005 we will have the revenue to keep our services going. When our public works employees go out at 10:00 at night we pay them overtime. We canít expect our employees to work for free or no overtime.
Mr. Vanover said one of the things that has happened is that we have competition out there. Years ago this was Springdale and if you wanted to do business in Springdale you played by our rules. Unfortunately, there is more competition out there and everyone wants something new and shiny. Look at the development in West Chester. Weíre tickled to death to have Tri-County Mall. You can go west to Forest Park and see the name changes on that facility. Itís not even close to what it had started at. We donít have green fields to develop. We have to work twice as hard to maintain what we have. One of the moves we are making right now with the old town is to redevelop it so it doesnít sit and decay and to keep a lot of the services that we want. Iíd hate to have to leave Springdale to find restaurants, entertainment, etc. When the mall went into business in 1960 and until a few years ago, if you went north there were corn fields. We joked for years that Fairfield was just a corn field.
Mr. Vanover made a motion to table Resolution R16-2003 and Mr. Danbury seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
OLD BUSINESS - none
Mr. Danbury asked for a resolution for Mr. Huddleston.
Mr. Osborn stated the City was approached again by SORTA, the ACCESS program that was initially put in place by SORTA to reach out to ADA affected folks. Itís a direct access on demand type of service. They extended it to other individuals in the same geographic areas that are non-ADA people who still have a need for transportation but may not qualify under ADA. Last year they started requesting that the local jurisdictions share in that cost for non-ADA transportation needs. We have been billed again this year for just under $6,000. The program is in jeopardy because the current funding will come to an end and whether it will be renewed is questionable. Unless Council objects we will pay our share for the county-wide service.
There was no objection by Council.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
District 1 meeting - November 25
Planning Commission - December 9
Mayor Webster said there are a number of new appointments to be made so I will have mine ready for December 1. With Edís concurrence I would like to have Reverend Pasley give the invocation.
Mr. Vanover said Rose Koonceís term on the Tax Review Board ended 1/31/03.
Ms. Pollitt said Ms. Fehr (Koonce) has served on the Tax Review Board this year. I think that must be a typo. I have contacted her to see if she is interested in continuing on.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
Easement from Wimbledon - December 3
Amending Chapter 94 of Code of Ordinances - December
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Resolution for Dick Huddleston - December 1
Agreement with developer of Old Town - December 3
Resolution for Rob Hormann - December 1
Resolution endorsing Hamilton Co. COMPASS - December 3
Initiative and Strategies
Resolution for Magistrate - December 1
Resolution for Prosecutor - December 1
Resolution for Public Defender - ?
Council adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council