Sunday, September 27, 2009

VC: Special Meeting Monday: Levy Renewal?

Dear People: 7 pm on Monday Village Council will meet in a special session to receive preliminary information from our village manager, Mark Cundiff, about how we have spent the current levy monies, how they contribute to our overall budget, and what various renewal options would look like.

I'll give you a little initial context, and would welcome your thoughts:
  • The last levy was passed in November of 2006 and was an 8.4 mill, 5-year levy; it commenced with 2006 taxes (collected in 2007) and will therefore end with 2010 taxes (to be collected in 2011).
  • Although the levy was advocated in order to accomplish some specific tasks (Street surface replacements, Economic Development, etc.), it was an operating levy that went directly into the General Fund, not into special funds for specific projects.
  • The current levy contributes 25% of our General Fund revenues--$747,000 each year. Without levy support, we would have to cut our budget, services.
  • Mark suggests that, in order to avoid a gap, we should place this on the ballot in Nov. 2010; that means we'd need to have a "Resolution of Necessity" passed by next August. So he suggests we might want to make some initial decisions about renewal/new levy (how much and what type) by end of the year.
I would welcome any thoughts, and your presence at the meeting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear People: Well, the gorgeous weather maybe was too good to last, and, yet, today's drizzle is calm and beautiful in its way. I made my way to the Horace Mann statue in the South Glen for the first time this morning, just before it started sprinkling, during my long Sunday hike. I'm embarrassed to say I had never been there, so I paid my long-overdue respects to the big green-patinaed man on the plinth in the woods, with his shocking, red-painted shoes. (Thanks to the "jafabrit" blogger--Corrine B.--for her fabulous photo! But who weilded the red paint, hmmm? It looks like he's wearing crocs!)

So! Tomorrow (Monday 9/21) village council will be meeting as usual in the Bryan Center, 2nd floor, 7 pm, for our regularly scheduled second meeting of the month, which I'll discuss at length below.

In addition, I would like to alert/remind you all that we will have a very important special meeting, next Monday (9/28), which will focus on the overall budget and, more specifically, the levy and its possible renewal. Mark Cundiff has received questions/concerns from Council, and is preparing a presentation for us to better understand what role the levy monies are playing in our current budget and what our options are in terms of renewal/rates/purposes, and how those options would likely affect our future budgets. I hope that many of you can come.

BUT tomorrow night our agenda looks like this:

We received letters from a variety of sources, as usual. Highlights:
  • Two villagers in one household wrote to complain about the noise from F-16 flyovers,
  • a group from MLASC is asking for permission to use Cemetary Street parking as a fund-raiser during street fair, as they have in years past.
  • Another villager wrote to ask when we plan to have the annual Halloween "beggers' night," which last year several residents felt was overcrowded by out-of-town people.
I suspect all of those may be discussed at least briefly at our meeting. Please let me know if you have thoughts, perhaps especially about when we ought to have our traditional Halloween festivities.
  • We also always receive a newsletter from AMP, our power co-op. One article caught my eye: The 'Energy Conservation for Ohioans Link' (ECO-Link) loan program which "is a partnership between the Ohio Treasury and eligible state banks to provide reduced-interest rate financing for Ohioans seeking installment loans to make energy efficiency improvements to existing single family homes" For more info visit the ECO Link website or call 800/228-1102 for more info on participating banks, contractors, and eligible Energy Star products.


1. Second reading of Human Relations Ordinances, establishing a domestic partnership registry, establishing 'hate crimes' legislation, and including gender identity as a protected category in our public accommodations regulations.
2. Resolution in support of Greene County Library Levy Renewal. (Not a new tax, just a reaffirmation of the old one.)
3. Resolution accepting the amount and rates of our tax budget (as determined by the the state Budget Commission, and certifying them to the County Auditor).
4.-6. Resolutions awarding two bids for the WWTP improvements: General Contracting with Kirk Brothers; Electrical Work with DeBra Kuempel; and authorizing LJB, Inc., to oversee the project.

  1. MVRPC "Going Places" Phase I Report. Click here for more information from their website. This report is "an integrated land use visiong for the Miami Valley Region (Miami, Montgomery, & Greene Counties), which focuses on encouraging economic development in the region and sets a vision for land use priorities. The map included in the brochure identifies some land on all sides of Yellow Springs as 'developable.' I am very interested and concerned about how and whether there is any attempt to discourage the kind of sprawl the region has seen in the past several years--I cannot see it clearly in the information I have read.
  2. Village Water & Sewer Rates Study: We commissioned Woolperts to look at our water and sewer rates. Our water rates are currently not keeping up with costs, in particular, and we are doing major work to our wastewater treatment system, so we must look at our rate structure and how to bring it in line with costs. Woolperts will present a cost comparison with other municipalities, and make suggestions as to changes we could make.
Economic Sustainability Committee/ Community Resources: At our last meeting, we determined that, as a body, we needed advice and clarification from our village solicitor about the limitations on a Council person serving on the Board of Community Resources, which is a non-designated Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) whose work is focused on developing the Center for Business and Education (the McGregor property). We had just received a statement on this specific question made by the Ohio Ethics Commission, which many of us found confusing. Currently, Kathryn Van der Heiden is serving "ex-officio" on the Board of Community Resources. The Ethics Commission ruling, to me, seemed to imply that it was very difficult for a public official to serve as a full member on such a board.

I am not sure whether we will have any extended discussion of Judith Hempfling's proposed Economic Sustainability Commission; I think we may just get a brief update from Mark as to the hiring of the Economic Sustainability Director, and plan to take this question up at a later date.

Energy Task Force: Street Light Bulbs. The Energy Task force proposes replacing our current street lamps with new, much more energy efficient ones called "induction" lights. They have been running a sample light at the cornder of Talus and West South College. The ETF proposes using our $50,000 budget for energy efficiency improvements for this year to begin the conversion to induction lights. Step 1 would be issuing an RFP for the process.

MANAGER'S REPORT (attached) : discusses Greene Cats potentially making the Bryan Ctr. a regular pick up spot, WWTP non-compliance penalties, the increase in solid waste fees, and the inquiry from Greene Met Housing regarding taxes on land in the village, atrazine in the water, etc.

STANDING REPORTS from all commissions and committees of Council and AGENDA PLANNING and then

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Real Estate / Personnel / Pending Litigation


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Delayed Post! Sorry, folks, this should have been posted yesterday morning

Online readers: My apologies for the delay in posting this; it wasn't intentional. I'll do better next time.

Dear People: Well, the holiday means that our Village Council meets tonight, rather than last night. We have a heavy agenda, as usual.

In the many petitions and communications we received, were a few that are of especial interest, I think:
1) Karen Wintrow reports that Yellow Springs has been selected one of 5 regional "best home towns" by Ohio magazine, and will be the feature cover story of their November edition.
2) Pat Murphy will be speaking on "Super Insulated Passive Homes" on Wed evening, the 9th, at 8pm; Green Energy Ohio is having a Miami Valley Solar Tour, Oct 3-4 (
3) The Greene County Health District will be having a women's "Fashion Swap & Shop" on Oct. 24th, 11 am, Greene Country Club, Fairborn. Proceeds will benefit the "Clinic Cupboard" which provides basic drug store items for needy families using the clinics--e.g. diapers, tylenol, diaper rash cream, other over-the-counter meds.
4) Letters from citizens/area groups: one letter opposing the Fairfield sidewalk petition, one letter concerned about noise levels from the Springfield airport and potential for increased traffic at that airport. NAMI urges us to be concerned about cuts to housing for mentally disabled in Ohio.
5) Annual Report from the Miami Township Fire & Rescue.

Three things related to environmental concerns--esp. water/water treatment:

1) A citizen emailed a link to a story in the New York Times about atrazine in the drinking water: He's requesting that the village test more frequently, particularly during times of heaviest agricultural and lawn use.
2) The Ohio EPA tested our sewage sludge and found that we lacked complete documentation for certain tests and certifications, making us out of compliance with their rules. I'll ask Mark about this.
3) Vickie Hennessy of the Environmental Commission requests $270 to help pay for a public forum on water fluoridation. The forum would present Mark McDonnell, of the Greene County Health Commission, who advocates for water fluoridation as a protection for children's teeth, and Dr. Paul Connett, who co-founded the Fluoride Action Network seeking to broaden public awareness of the health risks of ingesting fluoride. The $270 would pay for transporting Dr. Connett here; both speakers are willing to speak at no cost. I have asked that we be able to discuss this issue during "new business."


1) Ordinance (2nd reading): Entering the Eco-Choice Program ("Green Pricing")--voluntary support for green energy sources
2) Ordinance (2nd reading): No animals at street fair
3) Ordinance (1st reading): Amending Chapter 632 re: Human Relations in the Village: Revising our intimidation ('hate crimes') and our public accommodations statutes to include sexual orientation/gender identity; setting up a domestic partnership registry in the village
4) Resolution: Awarding the bid for electrical line tree clearing
5) Resolution: Accepting a renewal quote for property casualty insurance

Ed Amrhein will give us a status report and explain what the current plans are.

Economic Sustainability Committee (& related issues):
Judith proposes that we create a committee that would bring together people from a variety of areas of our economic life to help develop new businesses in town.

At the same time, our lawyer advises that since Community Resources (CR) is not a designated CIC, Kathryn Van Der Heiden cannot serve as a full member. Village Council has asked CR if they would agree to become a designated CIC of Council, allowing Council (and Miami Township) to appoint 40% of the board and increasing their transparency (more of their meetings would be open). As I see it, it would make it easier for us to be partners for finishing the work of the Center for Business and Education, which we have to be anyway, since the grant funding must go through the Village. CR has not decided whether it would like to do this. They have, however, indicated this week that they would like to appoint our Village Manager, who is a paid employee under Council, to their board. I, however, believe the best way forward is through official designation of CR as a CIC of Council.

Public Art: The sculpture "A flock of hands," one of three winners of the recent public art competition is proposed to be moved from the original suggested site in front of the Bryan Center to near the Train Station.

(Possible discussion of Fluoridation Forum, see above)

Electric / Water Staffing: Village Manager Mark has discovered that we are short staffed in our utilities department in a way that impairs safety, and his analysis of the information suggests that one of these vacancies was never intended to occur. He recommends hiring an additional utility staff worker.


Well, it could be a late night for me, folks! See you around town, and let me know if you have any thoughts about these issues....