Saturday, January 30, 2010

VC: Water, Goals, and life...

Dear People: After the thaw, the cold returns again. I included a February poem by one of my favorite writers, Margaret Atwood at the end of this email. I've been enjoying long walks with my dogs, all bundled up, feeling the blessing of this healthy body that I too often take for granted, and thinking of Judith Hempfling, who has had hip surgery this week and is working on walking again. She is doing well, but she could use your good thoughts and support.

I will, therefore, be leading the meeting on Monday (Exec. session is at 6:30; regular meeting is 7:00, in the Bryan Center), as Vice President; Judith will try to be present for the Goals discussion.

The Council Packet is online so do feel free to consult it in relation to any of the information below.

1) 6:30 Executive Session to discuss Village Manager evaluation and contract renewal.

2) 7:00 General Session

ANNOUNCEMENT: We have two special meetings before our next regular meeting (15th)

SUNDAY February 7th: Executive Session: Personnel: Clerk of Council Interviews: 12-5 pm
(Yes, we're interviewing folks on Super Bowl Sunday. Ironically, none of us noticed this until our Village Manager, Mark, pointed this out to us!)
TUESDAY February 9th: Special Meeting: First Budget Session 7 pm

3) Minutes like crazy!--we're running a bit behind.

4) PETITIONS/ COMMUNICATIONS: We received petitions from local citizens:

Paul Abendroth, regarding downtown parking concerns--simple solutions for working with our current parking;
Dan Carrigan (2) re: putting an RSS feed on the website and asking for clearer maps of the CBE;
Harvey Paige re: airport noise (responses from federal government offiicials)

Financial Director Sharon Potter provided handouts for Council to use to better inform our Commissions about expenditure requests and procedures

  • 2nd reading/ public hearing on Ordinance 2010-01 Water Rate Increase For the last several years our Water rates have not kept pace with our expenses, and have not been raised since 2001, so we are raising those rates by 10%, 5% the next year, and then a constant increase of 3% per year for 2013, 2014, to be revisited at that time.
  • Resolution: Business First Dues: $1500. This regional organization helps to retain and support expansion of businesses in the Dayton region.
  • Resolution: Northern Gateway: Supporting a Grant Application to the ODNR (Ohio Dept Natural Resources)
  • Resolution: New Village Treasurer: Rachel McKinley, an excellent and highly qualified candidate with excellent background in non-profit finance, has been interviewed and will be named our new village treasurer! Please congratulate, and thank her, for this public service.
6) CITIZENS' CONCERNS: If you have something on your mind, and it is not being covered by our current agenda, this is your time to speak your mind.


Our Water System Concerns: Potassium Permanganate Project Report
by Joe Bates, Superintendent, Water and Waste Water Treatment Plants. Oh, dear, folks--48 years of manganese buildup in the pipes down at the plant and in other places like the water towers needs to be dealt with. Joe is going to help us understand our situation and decide what to do.


Update on the Clerk of Council position.
We're interviewing 5 candidates on the 7th. We had an excellent pool.

Dog Park Proposal at Ellis Park:
two YSHS seniors have approached Mark about a "free range" fenced-in, dog park, north of the parking area--divided into an area for small dogs (40' x 134') and a separate one for large dogs (260' x 150'). Most of the park would be outside this area. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Continuation of 2010 Goals Discussion We have 6 overarching goals that we polished at our last meeting. Now we are working on determining a few, concrete things that we want to accomplish this year. But we have about 100 ideas! The compilation of all brainstormed ideas is in the packet (linked above), but Mark is hoping to have removed all the repetition so we can start from a more specific, place.

9) NEW BUSINESS: None! So why not a poem...



by Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.


Lori Askeland (lori.askeland@gmail....)
Yellow Springs Village Council
1640 Spillan Road
Yellow Springs OH 45387 (updated regularly with council news)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

VC 1/19: Water Rates; Procedures for Calling Mtgs; Goals

Dear People: It's a busy night for Council tomorrow (Tues. 1/19) night, although the agenda of the public meeting is fairly focused--just two issues to be discussed.

First off, an update:
Council met in executive session on Sunday to discuss our hiring of a new Clerk of Council. We had a short list of 22 applicants to work from (narrowed from about 150 by John Weithofer and me), and we further narrowed that list to several we hope to interview and some alternates. I will be speaking to John Weithofer this week about helping us contact them for interviews, collect references from those we don't have, etc.


1) Special Meeting of Village Council: Executive Session 5 pm
  • Treasurer Interview
  • Evaluation of Village Manager
2) Regular meeting: 7 pm

LEGISLATION: Drafts of these legislation documents are posted online!

1) ORDINANCE: Second reading/ public hearing: Establishing procedures for calling meetings:
Our village lawyer, John Chambers, will be present to answer questions about the draft of this ordinance, which provides clear guidance about publishing all meetings properly, as well as special meetings and emergency meetings. Emergency meetings are and have been very rare: we have only called one since Judith/Karen have been on Council. Some citizens felt that we should specify the kinds of reasons we should have for calling meetings, in order to ensure that they are rarely called. I will be asking Mr. Chambers about that idea.

On this note, it should be noted that Mr. Chambers has issued a legal opinion about a conference call by members of the Visioning Task Force Steering Committee. His note does indicate that the conference call did constitute an illegal meeting. There are some fairly straightforward means by which the Steering Committee can respond to this problem. I suspect we will be discussing this issue at the meeting.

Let me be clear with all of you that 1) I support the Visioning effort and very much want it to succeed, and 2) Transparency in government is bedrock, in my opinion. You can't have democracy without transparency. My goal since being on Council has been to make the government's actions accessible to citizens to the widest degree possible, and to open myself to interactions with people so that I can seek to make the best possible decisions for the community. That's why I write these notes just about every week! So, although I was not a part of that committee or conference--I deeply regret that it happened.

However, at the same time, I do not believe that there was any nefarious intent: people felt an urgency to complete that stage of the Visioning in order to stay on the proposed schedule. The Committee reps were trying to do their best, and most of them clearly did not fully understand the rules under which we must operate. We must do a better job of educating each new committee that is created. While I do not know all the facts, it would seem, however, that our ACP representative, who has worked with many communities in the past, really should have known better, and I would like to hear more from him on this question.

2) ORDINANCE: First reading, public hearing: Water/Sewer Rates: Increases At our request, Woolpert's did an analysis of our water and sewer rates, which have not been increased for eight years (since 2001). The biggest problem right now is that our water system is losing money and we are eating into the surplus that had been built up over the years. So the plan is to increase the consumption rate charge by 10% this year and next (2010, 2011); 5% in 2012, and 3%, 2013, 2014. That means that while since 2001, we've all been paying $3.45 for a thousand gallons of water, as of April we will pay $3.80/ 1,000 gallons, and next year that will be $4.20/1,000 gal. For those living OUTSIDE The village limits, the surcharge will be increased from 10% to 50%. The memo by Mark Cundiff explains this and other issues in more detail.


2010 Council Goals: Please consider downloading/looking at the draft goals of Council members that have been posted online.


Mark's report is also included online. He reports that:
  • the village offices have been remodeled (this should help his ability to do the work we need him to do, without needless interruptions),
  • the CBE has 3 alternative roadway constructions;
  • the ETF needs more time for the street light replacement bids;
  • a proposal for a dog park by two YSHS seniors at Ellis Park;
  • his plan to attend a meeting sponsored by MVCC to help us improve our efficiency of service delivery;
  • he needs to clarify the meaning of "load factor," which doesn't mean the loss in power over long power lines but the average amount of energy production over a given period; a proposed buy out of a cell tower lease on the Sutton Farm.

Pending Litigation, with Village Solicitor

For the good of the order, I'd also like to pass along this note from Sean Creighton, newly elected school board president, asking for our help in locating an excellent school administrator:


The Yellow Springs School District is conducting searches for the following administrative positions: Superintendent, Treasurer, Elementary School Principal, and Middle School/High School Principal. We are looking for exceptional administrators that will be part of the leadership team that enables the district to mature from a nationally recognized School of Excellence into an exemplary 21st century model of public education.

Because you are a “connector,” I thought you could help our search by sharing this info with your networks (colleagues, friends, family, etc). Please help us search out highly qualified candidates that will succeed in our unique, highly educated, diverse, small Ohio community (2009 best hometown by Ohio Magazine and 2008 third coolest small town in America by Budget Travel).

Here is the link to the job postings:

[I can give Sean's contact info via email or phone]

Thanks much for all your help!

Cheers, Sean

Sean Creighton, Ph.D.
Executive Director, SOCHE

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No PC on Monday, Email?

Dear People: The Planning Commission meeting scheduled for this Monday has been canceled due to lack of a quorum. We will be publishing this cancellation in all the necessary venues, but please spread the word.

BTW: Any regular readers of this blog who would prefer to receive email postings instead or in addition to reading the blog should feel free to email me and ask to be added to my email list. (The content is essentially the same, although I sometimes edit the blog postings for clarity and correctness; the emails are typically the "first draft" of these postings).


Monday, January 4, 2010

Tonight: Village Mgr Evaluation, Open Meetings, Morris Bean Sewer, Econ Sustainability

Dear people: Keeping busy in this post-holiday season working for our meeting tonight. I and John Weithofer are going through the 150+ applications for Clerk of Council, and I'm in charge of our evaluation of Mark, so I will be chairing our executive session at 6 pm tonight focusing on that topic.

The general session will begin at 7 pm, and, after the preliminaries (call to order, roll call, announcements, minutes, etc.) we'll address several pieces of legislation:

1. ORDINANCE--2nd reading, public hearing: Establishing procedures for Calling Meetings in the Village of Yellow Springs. After the litigation last month, we realized that our current procedures for calling meetings--especially for special and emergency meetings--were not really clear or adequate. The new policies require more notification locations (not fewer as one letter from a resident seemed to imply): in addition to notifying the editor and (if possible) publishing in the YS News, we will also still use physical postings in the library and Bryan Center, and also, now, the Village website.

Additionally, if citizens would like notification, the new policy allows anyone to request individual notification of any any special meetings of any body of government. The draft of this ordinance stipulates a $5.00 annual fee in order to cover Village expenses. A resident has asked us about the origin of that number and how it was calculated. That's a good question, and I hope that our Solicitor will be able to answer that question for us this evening.

Again, I would like to reiterate that this Council is committed to open meetings. We are striving to honor the spirit and not just the letter of the law. I think I can speak for the whole Council when I say that we're glad that citizens here are engaged and want to be informed--and we're also glad that a few citizens are helping us think through what the best policy would be for helping to notify everyone if we have to occasionally add more meetings to our schedule or, very rarely, call emergency meetings where advance notification is more challenging.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about the best means of notification.

"You got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues..." Ringo Starr, "It Don't Come Easy," 1978

2. RESOLUTION Authorizing the Village Mgr. to Sign a Sanitary Sewer Agreement with Morris Bean (this process began in 2005 due to environmental concerns in relation to the aging sewage system at Morris Bean, which is technically outside the village limits.)
3. RESOLUTION Membership dues for Ohio Municipal League (they help keep us informed about activities in Ohio State government affecting municipalities)
4. RESOLUTION Membership dues for Northern Miami Valley Local Government Association. This organization facilitates collaboration with other local municipalities.
5. RESOLUTION Membership dues for Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce. This organization promotes the economic interests of Yellow Springs, as you all probably know, and organizes major events such as the Street Fairs which require a great deal of village cooperation, while providing valuable connection to local businesses.
6. RESOLUTION Membership dues for Greene County Emergency Management Association (for non-police matters). This organization helps during natural and man-made disasters.


1. Economic Sustainability Commission
: Judith Hempfling is bringing back to Council her earlier proposal for an "Economic Sustainability Commission" that would "advise Council in creating an Economic Sustainability Plan which will guide Village Government economic development work. The Commission will provide a venue for incubating ideas and networking between economic development groups, businesses, non-profits, entrepreneurs, workforce development resources and citizens. This discourse will also promote an increased community understanding of a sustainable economy. It will also help identify regional, state and federal economic development resources and funding opportunities."

The goal would be to work with and complement existing organizations--the Chamber and Community Resources. Quoting again from Hempfling's proposal, "
The first work item will be to advise Council on development of an Economic Sustainability Plan which will guide Village Government work on economic development. The Plan will promote Village goals of addressing global warming and being a place of opportunity for diverse people. It is hoped that the Plan will be developed over the first 6 months of the life of the Commission.

"The Plan will identify the primary opportunities for economic sustainability in the village and ways to support those efforts. It will recommend steps to further strengthen meeting local needs locally, opportunities such as a business incubator to support entrepreneurs, strengthening of the local workforce by promoting regional resources for skills training, mentoring and apprenticeships for village youth and adults and the possible creation of a local jobs directory. Recommendations should be made regarding the Village Economic Development Revolving Fund, and economic development grant opportunities. The Economic Sustainability Commission will also be a forum for sharing ongoing economic activities."

I look forward to this discussion and to hearing from citizens about the plan.

2. Commissions, committees and boards update: terms of office, roster, schedule of meetings for 2010: There are openings on many committees and commissions--let me know if you're interested. Particularly in Environmental Commission and Human Resources.

3. Update on Clerk of Council Search: John Weithofer and I are sorting the 150+ applicants and will meet this week. I am hopeful that we will be able to have an executive session to discuss the top candidates after our next meeting.


First discussion of 2010 Council Goals

Highlights include 1. Village Manager's office is being remodeled; the manager is now in Dave Conley's old office (still on the 2nd floor of the Bryan Center); 2. ongoing work on the Center for Business and Education--the Antioch McGregor site on the west side of town--we have some concerns that the Ohio Dept of Transportation grant money will be pushed back to 2012; we're trying to avoid that; 3. Street Light Replacement Bids will go to the Energy Task Force at their Jan 5 meeting and they will try to have a recommendation for Council on Jan 19th; 4. The Little Miami River Partnership seeking an extension of the grant/agreement we have had for riparian conservation work along the river since 2008.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Village Treasurer Position.

I'm listening to Hawaiian music while I type (I'm a fan of pandora Who doesn't love Israel 'IZ' Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow / Wonderful World" medley?

Peace, y'all (I just came back from the South...)--