Absences delay vote on DORA

PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON Officer Jake DeMonte (left) and retiring canine officer Andy visited Tiffin City Council Monday to received service awards from Police Chief Fred Stevens.

Tiffin City Council tabled an ordinance Monday instead of voting on the downtown Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA.

After discussion, council members voted 5-0 to table the matter until the next meeting, when all seven council members could be present. Councilmen Ben Gillig and Jim Roberts were not at Monday’s meeting due to illness.

Discussion centered on how to make the public more aware of the proposal and its contents because a few council members said they had received phone calls about it.

“I think it has some value, but I think we need to take a little more time, discuss it further and see if we can look at doing it in a different time frame than what we’re proposing here this evening,” said Councilman Rich Focht.

One question concerned the impact the DORA would have the police workload.

Police Chief Fred Stevens said the police department is willing to accommodate the request for enforcement, and would let the administration and council know if there are problems.

“If there are issues, the administration would be the first to suggest killing it,” said Mayor Aaron Montz. “We do not anticipate any.”

Another question was about how the DORA would affect high school and college students.

The DORA would allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed on city sidewalks within a designated area downtown between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. six days a week.

In response to a question, President Mark Hayes said the designated area extends north and south roughly from Clover Club to The Ritz Theatre and east and west from the Elks Club to the Knights of Columbus.

“We have to trust our business operators, our own police department and our own people to act as adults when they’re consuming alcohol,” said Councilman Joe Hartzell. “I think you have to have a certain amount of trust.”

Canine team awarded

During the mayor’s report, the police chief presented Jake DeMonte with a distinguished service award for being half of the city’s canine team and a meritorious service award to the dog, Andy, upon Andy’s retirement. DeMonte has served as a canine handler for 11 years — first with Tommy, who died of cancer, and then with Andy, who served 6 1/2 years.

During those years, Stevens said Andy responded to 560 calls, 170 calls while off duty, and collected evidence leading to 301 criminal charges. He also presented demonstrations and other public duties.

“His investigative sniffing skills are commended,” Stevens said.

Another police-related presentation was a “check” for $10,018 to the city by Officer Jared Watson, who oversees the Citizens Police Academy. He said the amount represents the monetary value of 450 volunteer hours by the volunteers who assist the police in such areas as the safety programs in schools, and money saved by the city.

Stevens said the academy’s alumni will exceed 100 people after next year’s class graduates.

New minimum wage

In other legislation, council heard second reading on an ordinance to bring the city into compliance with Ohio minimum wage law, effective Jan. 1. The new minimum wage is to be $8.55 per hour. The ordinance also creates a new position called deputy municipal court utility clerk, and increases the pay for park and recreation director position and requires the director to have at time of hiring or obtain in a reasonable time after hiring a pool operator’s license, a lifeguard training license, and first aid and CPR training licenses.

Also Monday, council heard first reading on a $13.8 million 2019 budget.

The budget includes General Fund expenditures of $13,883,930 with a projected income of $13,020,999, and a carryover of about $1.9 million.

Second reading on the ordinance is to be heard at council’s Dec. 17 meeting, and Hayes scheduled a special meeting for 4 p.m. Dec. 27 to hear third reading and vote on the measure.

Council also heard first reading an ordinance to buy a bucket truck for an estimated $110,000, a fire support vehicle for an estimated $50,000 and two police cruisers for an estimated $90,000; and an ordinance to revise codified ordinances with replacement pages related to the traffic code and general offenses code.

Council heard first reading on an ordinance to pay bond and loan principal and interest for money previously borrowed by the city:

• $446,250 toward a 2007 bond for sewer projects, including $365,000 in principal and $81,250 in interest.

• $227,470 toward a 2010 bond for sewer projects, including $205,000 in principal and $22,470 in interest.

• $106,650 for sewer projects, including $30,000 in interest and $76,650 in interest.

• $93,730 toward a 2012 Water Pollution Control Loan Fund loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority for the Rock Creek Sewer Interceptor, including $63,519 in principal and $30,211 in interest.

• $12,195 from the Capital Improvement Fund toward the 2010 South Shaffer Park Drive project to pay part of the $55,000 principal and $6,195 toward interest. The remainder of funds due are to be paid from services payments in lieu of taxes.

• $31,512 from the General Fund to the Capital Improvements Fund toward the 2010 South Shaffer Park Drive project, including $10,000 in principal and $21,512 in interest.$55,487 from the Capital Improvements Fund to the Riverfront Improvement Bond Fund, including $50,000 in principal and $5,487 in interest.

• $50,000 from the Court Special Projects Fund and $78,925 from the Capital Improvements Fund toward the Joint Justice Center project, including $65,000 toward principal and $63,925 toward interest.

• $6,460 from the Capital Improvements Fund for improvements to Sandusky Street, which pays off the loan.

• $29,250 from the Capital Improvements Fund for the riverfront improvement project, including $10,000 in principal and $19,250 in interest.

Council heard first readings on fund transfer ordinances to move:

• $95,600 from the General Fund to the Park and Recreation Fund in February, May, August and November 2019.

• $250,000 from the Sewer Revenue Fund to the Combined Sewer Separation Fund in March, June, September and December 2019.

• Funds from the General Fund to the Tap SR 1 Grant Fund, which relates to the SR 18 Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project previously approved by council.

• $3,000 to the Park and Recreation Fund for the Park and Recreation MV Gas and Oil Line.

Council also tabled an ordinance vacating the first alley west of North Monroe Street running south from Adams Street in the second ward, and an ordinance establishing a municipal Public Improvement Tax Increment Equivalent agreement with Tiffin City Schools related to the Magic Tunnel Car Wash because the school board tabled the agreement.

Council approved a similar ordinance creating a TIF agreement with Hopewell-Loudon Local Schools concerning the Trilogy Senior Living Community project.