The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019

City Council hears info on clean-up day

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council moved forward on its city clean-up day project, while also approving legislation joining efforts to challenge the legality of House Bill 49, a measure that calls for state government to collect all municipal income taxes, and heard a report on city finances by the city auditor.

Rich Riley of Young’s Trash Service provides information for a citywide clean-up day event scheduled for late September. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Rich Riley of Young’s Trash Service, made a proposal to City Council to handle collections for its planned city clean-up day, to handle collections of items not included in the normal bagged trash collection — furniture, appliances, bed frames, mattresses, etc.

Riley gave Council two dates, September 14 and 28, to bring non-solid waste items to Young’s transfer station between the hours of 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Council President Jon Tomlinson said he preferred the September 28 date, just because it would provide more time to advertise the event. Young’s would charge a maximum of $3,000 to provide the collection service, which is for city residents only. Riley said they would be checking driver’s licenses to ensure the person bringing items has a city address.

Council voted to prepare an emergency resolution to appropriate funds for the project, with the resolution to be finalized at the August 26 meeting.

“I think this is a reasonable step to help people clean up their property,” Tomlinson noted. “I hope people take advantage of it.”

Law Director John Hatcher had two main items to talk about during his report. The first item was an appeal of HB 49, which would collect all municipal income taxes in the state, but would also levy a fee of 1 percent on municipalities to do so. Several cities are challenging the legislation’s constitutionality on the basis that the state’s forced collecting of income taxes violates municipalities’ “Home Rule” powers.

The law director also noted that, because of Ohio’s new hemp law, city police will no longer be writing citations for possession of minor misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. The reason for the change in policy is because the new law requires a determination of the amount of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets users “high”, and city police do not have testing equipment that would allow them to do that. Hatcher said County Prosecutor Eva Yarger’s office would make a determination on whether to send larger amounts of marijuana to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation labs for testing.

Hatcher said the new policy would likely result in lower Municipal Court cases — and possibly revenues.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat gave a report on city finances, noting that General Fund revenues were down $33,000 behind last year, which is not a huge concern at this point. Balyeat also noted she was not optimistic that the city would meet revenue projections for the year, but also said the city would not be adversely affected by the lower-than-projected revenues this year.

On a positive note, General Fund departments, which includes the police and fire departments, have taken in $57,000 more than they have spent so far this year.

Balyeat also spoke briefly about the problems between the county auditor and treasurer’s offices, while also noting the situation comes about because voters lose control over elected officials as soon as they’re elected.

“This whole situation just gives us all the more reason to pursue charter government,” the city auditor noted, adding that the problem with electing officials, such as an auditor or treasurer, is that the person elected may not be able to actually do the job. 

“You can end up with people in those positions who have absolutely no experience, no education, no prior knowledge of the kind of work that they’re going to do,” Balyeat said. “If I never balanced the books, and I never came to a meeting, and I never paid the bills, and payroll was late, you guys can do anything about it, which is crazy.”

Tomlinson said the county’s current problems are a “case study” on why the city should go to a charter form of government.

During his report, Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming noted that bids will be received Tuesday for miscellaneous painting projects, including painting a water tower. He also noted that paving on John Brown Road and Vision Drive would be done by Saturday, with Production Drive completed on Monday to mostly complete Vision Park street projects.

Fleming also noted that poles for the new traffic light were being installed at the intersection of Washington Street and Central Avenue, but the actual traffic lights would have to wait a month or so.

More information was also received related to the city’s research on whether to seek building inspection services from either Miami or Allen County, instead of relying on state building inspections, as is now the case.

Third Ward Councilman Ken Markward said he had polled a number of commercial contractors in the area, with most of those stating they have had no problems with the state inspection services. Council will continue to gather more information before deciding which avenue is best for the city.

Council also voted to prepare legislation to authorize a special parking place in front of the Van Wert County Courthouse for wounded veterans who received the Purple Heart medal. Council members noted that veterans parking in the spot needed to have a special Purple Heart license plate, while Council also discussed enforcement for those who used the parking place illegally.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, August 26, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 08/13/19 at 8:22 am. FILED UNDER: News