Tiffin, Seneca No. 10 in nation

At the Tiffin City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Aaron Montz said the city in cooperation with Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. announced that Tiffin and Seneca County have placed in the top 10 nationally on Site Selection Magazine’s rankings for large, private economic development projects.

The rankings place Tiffin 10th on the list of 576 micropolitans, or counties with a central city between 10,000 and 50,000 in population.

Tiffin and Seneca County ranked 30th last year. This is the first time it placed in the top 10.

Seneca County completed seven major projects in 2013, which created 210 new jobs and represented $27 million in new investment.

Also in the top 10 are Findlay and Fremont.

Montz thanked those who helped with economic development within the community, including former SIEDC CEO and President Rich Focht and Director of Development Karen Bowers.

“You want to talk about … things starting to happen in the communities, northwest Ohio is leading the charge and Tiffin is No. 10 out of the nation,” he said.

Council also held the second public hearing regarding the 2013 Community Development Block Grant Discretionary Fund Program for improvements to be made to the Laird Arcade Building.

Danielle Steinhauser of CT Consultants has been working with the Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group, owner of the building, to submit the grant application for work including roof replacement, improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and window replacements.

If approved, the grant would allow up to $150,000 from the Ohio Developmental Services Agency to be put toward the improvements, along with required matching funding that is to come from private investors.

The grant money is first-come, first-served.

The city would be required to administer the grant, but the property owners would bid out and complete the work on the building.

Steinhauser said to make sure the work is satisfactory, checks and balances could be written into the contract between the city and the property owners.

If the grant is approved, and the city and building owner agreed on the work, the city would act as a pass-through for the money.

Steinhauser said the contract would allow all problems to go to the property owners, which would eliminate liability for the city.

Councilman Rich Focht commended the project and said he wanted the city to be protected in all cases, including not paying for work until it was completed to the city and the property owner’s satisfaction.

If the city wants more control over the contract, the city will have more liability, Steinhauser said.

She is to consult with the property owners about hiring a project manager to act as a liaison with the city to be sure improvements meet city and owner specifications.

She is to speak to the property owners and find out whether they are willing to hire a project manager for the project in order to have a liaison between the city and the property owners to make sure the improvements would be completed to their specifications.

Council is to hold a third public hearing at 7 p.m. March 17.

Montz said several spots are open for volunteer landscaping. Volunteers can take care of a piece of city landscaping in areas such as parks, downtown and the welcome signs.

If interested, contact Montz’s office at (419) 447-5401.

The Recreation and Public Property committee also met before the council meeting to discuss an ordinance for a budget adjustment that would allow the city to contract with a cleaning service for City Hall and the annex, with money for emergencies.

City Administrator Deb Reamer said she looked into contracting with Clean Team of Tiffin to complete cleaning, along with buffing floors.

Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart said several departments would have to consider clearing sensitive documents from their offices with the hiring of a cleaning company.

Reamer said a schedule would be completed, so Reinhart and other affected departments would know when the company was coming.

The ordinance was moved to council, and council approved the ordinance with a vote of 7-0 and with a suspension of the three-reading rule.

Montz also read a proclamation declaring March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and encouraged the community to focus on the abilities of all people, acknowledge individuals’ contribution and foster opportunities for those with developmental disabilities within the community.

Reinhart said in her report the General Fund unencumbered balance as of Feb. 28 was $1,754,206.82.

Municipal income tax receipts are up 3.4 percent from February 2013. The unexpended balance for all funds was $12,367,704.93.

In written communication, Montz requested an additional $15,000 funding for legal services for labor negotiations. The request was moved to the Finance committee.

Council also received the Highland Park rezoning recommendation from City Engineer Mario Livojevic and read the ordinance allowing for the rezoning of Highland Park and the additional block east of Park Avenue a second time.

Larry Lundy, founder and general manager of G.I.B.S. Sanitation Service in Fostoria, expressed his concerns about waste hauling and curbside recycling during oral communication.

He said promoting a single hauler would allow the hauler to have a monopoly and dictate prices within the community.

He also said the city should reconsider curbside recycling until the community is educated on buying more recyclable items and promoting recycling within the community.

“We have to teach the public of how to buy recycled,” he said. “If they buy the recyclable product … the market will dictate for us haulers to go ahead and put in a recycling program.”

Council is to meet at 7:45 p.m. March 17.

In other business, council approved 7-0:

A resolution approving Montz’s appointment of Robert Mack Jr. for a three-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals Inc. until Dec. 31, 2017.

An ordinance levying assessments for the 2013 Sidewalk Replacement Project and declaring an emergency.

An ordinance vacating streets and alleys within Highland Park in the Second Ward.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 13-73 to appropriate funds for money received from the Fire SAFER Grant.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 13-73 to appropriate funds for legal services involving the AQUA Ohio Inc. water rate case with a suspension of the three-reading rule.