Council bids farewell to Elchert

Tiffin City Council voted to name the recreation trail at Oakley Park Paul L. Elchert Jr. Walking Trail in honor of Council President Paul Elchert’s 25 years of service at the meeting Monday.

Elchert served as the 2nd Ward councilman from 1988 to 2001 and Council president since 2002. Council members expressed their appreciation for his years of service to the city, including his work on the construction of Northstar Industrial Park and Eagle Rock Business Park and his volunteerism.

The resolution recognized Elchert for his devotion to the community, calling him a “man of the people.”

A proclamation is also to be read June 15, Elchert’s birthday, declaring it Paul Elchert Make a Difference Day.

Council President-Elect Rich Cline said he appreciated Elchert’s service, especially in his support of Cline, Mayor Aaron Montz and Councilman Tyler Shuff’s arrival on city council and his willingness to help council members in pursuing more information and encouraging discussion.

“I really just enjoyed it,” Elchert said. “It’s been a really good experience for me and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Council also recognized Councilman Brian Bilger for his two years on council. The resolution recognized Bilger for his good business sense and his focus on economic development.

“I can honestly say that … Tiffin really is going in the right direction,” Bilger said. “You know why you work hard for the city, because there’s a lot of people that depend on you and there’s a lot of people who make a difference.”

Elchert said he thought Bilger’s time was shortlived and appreciated his time serving the city.

The resolution was passed 7-0.

Christine Courtney and John Kerschner from Leadership Seneca County brought to council their project of creating Leadership Park downtown.

The program was founded in 1996 to help individuals refine leadership skills and focus on personal and professional development. Courtney said participants of the class of 2014 include individuals from Seneca County who would like to “leave their mark” on the county.

“This year, the class has made it their mission to help with the beautification of downtown Tiffin with the creation of Leadership Park,” she said.

The park would be located in the current green space on the east side of the Sandusky River between Perry and Market Streets.

Courtney said it would be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department and would become Tiffin’s first park to be built using recycled materials.

She said the park could be used for community events, including creative art and community engagement projects.

As treasurer of the Project Planning Committee, Kerschner requested $20,000 from the city to construct the park. He said the organization also is to apply for three grants through Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. and to raise $9,000 to complete the project.

The total project cost is $48,730 and the organization would like the project completed by May 2014.

He said two structures were planned on the space, along with the option of electricity and water, but the structures would not include restrooms.

Kerschner said Leadership Seneca County also would like the high schools and universities to create an art display.

Montz said with the project, the city could move festivals such as the Jazz Fest away from Frost Parkway and closer to downtown.

Elchert referred the request to Cline to refer to committee next year.

Montz also said that after discussion with the city’s insurance company, city workers will pay 4.6 percent more of health insurance costs this year. The initial figure from the insurance company was 19.5 percent. Montz said the reason for the increase was due to the Affordable Care Act.

In written communication, Montz requested that council consider granting AFS at Eagle Rock an easement. The request was moved to the Law and Community Planning Committee.

Montz also thanked Mary Sauber for her donation to the Parks and Recreation Department for the Santa Call project.

In public comment, Steve Kisan requested that council look further into the issue of snow removal, as he observed over the past weekend that Perry Street looked as though it had not been plowed.

Kisan said that in light of the recent budget cuts and the failed snow removal tax levy, the city should consider adding funds to the budget or put another levy on the ballot to pay for snow removal.

Montz said that early Saturday, the city had seven plows working to clear the streets.

Elchert also said that several areas were plowed twice or three times due to the heavy snowfall. He also said he didn’t believe a levy was needed.

Elchert said he is to look into the matter and report to Kisan on his findings.

Councilman Jim Roberts said property owners have the responsibility to clear sidewalks, including businesses downtown. Roberts suggested reminding business owners of the city law regarding snow removal.

City Administrator Deb Reamer said if Tiffin residents call and provide addresses of property owners who have not shoveled their sidewalks, the city will contact the property owners to remedy the situation.

She said a reminder can also be added to sewer bills.

Council is to have a public hearing about the Safe Routes to Schools Grant at 7:45 p.m. Jan. 6. Residents are encouraged to voice their opinion on the grant at the hearing.

City offices are to be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

In new business, council approved 7-0:

An ordinance approving the pay and benefits of two employees working in the Fostoria Office of Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court beginning Jan. 1 and declaring an emergency.

An ordinance amending and restating Ordinance Nos. 12-74, 13-10, 13-18 and 13-24 of the City Pay Ordinance, to comply with the state of Ohio Minimum Wage Law effective Jan. 1 and to establish appropriate rates of compensation for certain city employees, suspending the three-reading rule and declaring an emergency.

An ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into contracts with SIEDC to market Northstar Industrial Park sites, Eagle Rock Business Park sites and other industrial sites as well as commercial and retail sites within the city, suspending the three-reading rule and declaring an emergency.

An annual ordinance appropriating certain sums from all city funds for current and other expenditures of the city of Tiffin for fiscal year beginning Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31, 2014 with an amendment.

An ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into contracts with SIEDC to provide various economic development professional services including grant applications, suspending the three-reading rule and declaring an emergency.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 12-73 to make year-end budget adjustments, suspending the three-reading rule.

An ordinance approving the labor contract between Tiffin and Local 583, Ohio Division 8, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, for the period from Jan.1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016, suspending the three-reading rule and declaring an emergency.