Tiffin joins ohiocheckbook program online

Tiffin officials announced a new website Monday in conjunction with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office that aims to promote government transparency.

Frank Kohstall, of Mandel’s office, said Tiffin joined Fostoria and nearly 700 other government entities in Ohio participating in the online checkbook program.

Kohstall said Tiffin residents can visit tiffin.ohiocheckbook.com to browse more than 26,800 transactions made by the city in the past three years that total more than $79 million.

Mayor Aaron Montz said the website is an example of the city trying to be as transparent as possible.

“I’m just excited to go to another level of transparency,” he said.

Kohstall said the website makes it easy to find and display information. He said the city decides how often information is updated, but most municipalities update at least annually.

Montz said the goal will be to update quarterly.

In other business, council unanimously approved a railroad safety improvement plan, which is to close two railroad crossings.

Montz said the project, administered by the Ohio Rail Development Commission, initially called for closure of the North Monroe Street crossing.

He said ORDC and CSX representatives later recommended also closing the Holmes Street crossing. Each closure could earn the city an additional $200,000-$225,000 for the project.

Montz said the administration backs the new proposal because the project could be of no cost to the city and solves a safety issue.

The two crossings were deemed as the most dangerous in the city by the Federal Railroad Administration. The project also will introduce enhanced safety features at the other crossings in the city.

Montz said last week he was told by federal railroad officials the city had to close the crossings or spend $350,000-$400,000 per crossing to add four-quadrant gate systems to be considered for a citywide quiet zone. The quiet zone would stop conductors from sounding horns within the city.

Councilman Jim Roberts said he initially opposed closing the crossings.

“Once we lose those crossings, we’ll never get those back,” he said. “But when you weigh everything, the quiet zone is very important and making sure other crossings are safe (is important).”

Councilman Tyler Shuff said he did not want to close the crossings but voted for it after weighing options.

“I’m opposed to closing both those crossings, but if you look at the big picture, I think it’s something that’s going to make the community safer … and we’re spending little or no tax dollars,”

Law Director Brent Howard said not all of the funding for the approximate $2.6 million project is finalized and said more would be known about the timing of the project once the state budget is approved.

Montz said he doesn’t think the project would begin until next year because the design and engineering work by ORDC could take up to a year to complete.

In other news, Tiffin Fire Rescue Division Chief Kevin Veletean announced three free educational programs the department is offering to residents.

Veletean said the first program is a voluntary home fire and safety inspection program. The department will send firefighters to inspect residences based on National Fire Protection Agency standards.

He said the program is voluntary, but encouraged residents to take advantage of it.

“You’re more than welcome to give us a call. We can schedule those any days of the week,” he said. “We are trying to achieve the reduction of fires, the best fire to have is the fire that never occurs.”

The second portion of the program is to include inspections of rental properties, especially those rented out to college students. Stickers will be given to those who pass the inspection, which could give confidence to parents who are sending children to college.

The third program is a fire safety course for all incoming freshmen at Heidelberg and Tiffin universities.

For more information, call the fire department (419) 448-5444.

“We strongly encourage those interested to contact us,” he said.

Also during the meeting:

• Council approved funding to replace fuel pumps at the Public Works Department.

• Council approved funding to purchase a new dura-patcher.

• Tiffin Parks and Recreation Department received two donations from Tiffin Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council, including $650 for day camp supplies and $1,800 to build a park shelter at Josiah Hedges Park.