City carries over nearly $2.4M

Mayor Aaron Montz reported a nearly $2.4 million carryover at the end of 2013 at the Tiffin City Council meeting Monday.

Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart said in her report the General Fund unencumbered balance as of Dec. 31 was $2,393,701.38. Montz compared the carryover to the end of 2011, when the city carried over about $156,000.

Municipal income tax receipts are up 5.66 percent over December 2012. The unexpended balance for all funds was $12,621,296.10.

Montz also asked council to pass a resolution allowing him to file an application for grant funding to build the first phase of the proposed multipurpose trail system.

The first phase would connect the downtown area to Heidelberg University and Hedges-Boyer Park. Montz said sidewalks exist in that area, yet the trail would create a new route, including a possible new pedestrian bridge over Rock Creek.

The trail would be a 10-foot-wide path built on city-owned or university-owned land. No private property is to be affected by the trail.

Montz said the trail system could help ease congestion during events at Hedges-Boyer Park, such as the Heritage Festival, Fourth of July celebration and the Music and Art Festival.

“It would be great if residents could park at Heidelberg and then you don’t have to deal with how everyone is cramped trying to get in and out of the park,” he said. “They could use the university lots, walk the trail, which isn’t all that long, to get to the park.”

Montz is to apply for the Clean Ohio Trails Fund Program, which could provide up to 80 percent of the project costs. A project cost estimate is being developed.

He said the city can apply for a second grant with the Recreation Trails Program.

Council President Rich Cline said the project would help with the city’s goal of connecting Tiffin University and Heidelberg University to the downtown area.

Because the application for the Clean Ohio Trails Fund Program is due Feb. 1, council approved the resolution as an emergency and suspended the three-reading rule.

Park and Recreation Director Steve Dryfuse asked council to approve a resolution allowing him to apply for the Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca Solid Waste District’s Competitive Funding Grant.

He said the grant is an 80-20 percent paid grant, but the city can put forth more funding o make its application more competitive. He said the city could receive a grant of up to $10,000.

The funding would allow the Park and Recreation Department to purchase items such as trash containers, dog waste stations and planter boxes made from recycled material for downtown.

Dryfuse said the Shade Tree Commission would pay the city’s share of the grant.

Montz said if the city does not receive the grant, the Park and Recreation Department still will purchase the receptacles necessary, but will have to limit purchases.

“Either way, we’re going to see new things downtown,” he said. “We’re just hoping we can really stretch those dollars as far as possible.”

Because the grant application is due at the end of the month, council passed the resolution, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule.

The solid waste district is to make a making a funding decision in April.

Montz also updated council on the streetscape project from downtown to Heidelberg University. He said Ohio Department of Transportation could provide funding through the Small Cities Grant for beautification of East Market Street in 2016 or 2017. The project could include East Perry Street if the funding is awarded.

“ODOT may be on board with giving us substantial (funding), up to potentially 80 percent of the project cost,” said Montz.

The project could cost about $1 million, with the city’s contribution totaling $200,000.

Montz said the city does not have to commit yet to the funding but he would like council to consider the proposal.

ODOT is expected to award the Small Cities Grants in August.

Montz also asked council to accept the Fire Safer Grant Funding, which the city already has won. The grant totals about $775,000 and would bring the Tiffin Fire Department staffing to acceptable levels.

Montz said the city has a plan to maintain staffing levels after the two-year grant runs out. Chief Bill Ennis said six people are to be eligible for retirement by 2016, leaving funding available to maintain the individuals hired during the two-year period.

“If the economy continues to deteriorate, we are going to be able to absorb that loss without harming anybody’s career or anybody’s future,” he said.

Ennis said with the current staffing levels and providing manpower to Clinton and part of Eden townships, the city is not at an acceptable level.

Councilman Jim Roberts suggested having the townships pay more for ambulance service. At this time, the townships pay $100 per ambulance run.

Ennis said the city’s paramedics get experience in the townships, as the townships have more trauma runs.

The request was added to the discussion topics at next week’s committee of the whole.

Council is to hold a committee of the whole meeting at 5:15 p.m. Monday to discuss funding for Leadership Seneca County’s proposed Leadership Park.

In written communication, Montz asked that council consider allowing the administration to sign a contract with, an online auction site, to sell outdated equipment and supplies. The request was moved to the Materials and Related Services committee.

Montz also asked council to consider appointing Stephen Kisan to the Civil Service Commission. The request was moved to the Personnel and Labor Relations Committee.

After discussion in executive session, council also approved a resolution rejecting the fact finder’s recommendations and findings in the matter of city of Tiffin and Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, communications technicians, Ohio State Employment Relations Board and declaring an emergency.

Montz said the city proposed a 3 percent wage increase each year for three years. The dispatchers proposed a 5 percent increase for the first and second years of the contract and a 4 percent increase the third year. The fact finder’s report suggested a base increase of .35 cent per hour in addition to the 3 percent wage increase each year over three years.

Council also passed a resolution expressing appreciation to Rich Focht for his service to the city as president of Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. Focht retired in December.

Council also passed an ordinance with a vote of 6-0-1 authorizing and directing Montz to grant an easement from the city to American Fine Sinter Co. Ltd. restricting buildings and structures on property, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule. Due to a conflict of interest, Councilman Steve Lepard abstained from voting on the ordinance.

In other business, council unanimously approved:

A resolution appointing Ann Forrest as clerk of Tiffin City Council for a two-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and ending Dec. 31, 2015.

A resolution appointing Lori M. Ritzler president pro tempore of Tiffin City Council for a two-year term, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and ending Dec. 31, 2015.

An ordinance amending rule 10 of Section 121.02 of Tiffin Codified Ordinances to rename a standing committee of council, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 13-73 to provide funds for expenditures approved in 2013 for projects which were not fully completed in that year and must be carried over into 2014 and suspending the three-reading rule.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 13-73 to appropriate funds for combined sewer separation projects and suspending the three-reading rule.

An ordinance amending Section 191.14 of the Tiffin Codified Ordinances establishing a new allocation for the use of earned income tax revenues, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule.