Monday, August 2, 2010

VC tonight (8/2): Budgets and Sidewalks

< -- YS sidewalk art, courtesy of Yellow Springs Arts blog

Dear People: The summer is winding down and I'm staring down the barrel of a new school year. I'll include a favorite poem about teaching poetry, at the end of the email, for those of you who read to the end. Village Council meets tonight (Mon, 8/2, 7pm, second floor Bryan Ctr.) Lots of hot button issues! Budgets and sidewalks; truly, it doesn't get any better than in village governance.

Petitions and Communications:
  • Community Resources will be having a meeting open to the public on August 11 on the progress being made at the CBE (the Antioch Midwest property). Lisa Abels will present a state-of-the-project report and there will be time for Q&A.
  • Detailed and helpful rejection letter from the Dept of Energy for the grant applied for (with village approval) by Community Service, Inc. The letter notes many strengths of the project but also specifies exactly what weaknesses the reviewers detected in the impact and methods of the project. This was the grant application that led to the emergency meetings (and clarificaiton of our sunshine law policies) of last December.
  • A citizen with a goal of enhancing our 'bike-friendliness' copied us in a note to Ed Amrhein regarding the MVRPC's (the regional planning board of the Miami Valley) "Complete Streets" draft policies. He is concerned that it does not follow evidence-based best safety practices that have been established for incorporating bike traffic in city streets.
  • A citizen and business owner writing with concern about cutting the public safety budget.
  • Email from Fire chief Colin Altman: additional asbestos tests found no asbestos on Rabbit Run farm: MTFR will burn the house and barn on August 7th.
  • New bus route through YS on TUESDAYS, starting tomorrow! Greene CATS route 49 will go from Xenia to Springfield and will stop in YS at both Friends Care and the John Bryan Ctr. It will come through in the morning and the afternoon. There should be more information at the Chamber and Village Offices now.
  • Sample "Biobased Product" resolution language was sent to us from Ohio state senator Karen Gillmor (R-Tiffin), who authored Senate Bill 131, which "requires the state of ohio to give purchasing preference to biobased products when they are readily available at a reasonable price." Gillmor urges us to pass a similar municipal resolution as a boost to local, Ohio-based industries. Here's a press release about the state bill--if any environmentally minded folks have thoughts, let me know!

ORDINANCE (2nd reading/Public Hearing):
AMP's Efficiency Smart Program, discussed in my last note. A way to pay our EPA fine for the old AMP Gorsuch plant that is being shut down, and, we hope, get some help improving our efficiency, including possibly coupons for discounts on energy smart appliances.
ORDINANCE (1st reading): Supplemental Appropriations. This is a fairly minor adjustment--expenses are slightly up from expected in our General Fund (by $15,635 in a more than $3.6million budget) and special revenue funds (Bryan Center especially, total up by $47,201 in our $1.5 million budget). The wastewater treatment plant upgrade costs, however, are running lower at this point than expected, DOWN by $1.24million dollars, which puts the overall budget DOWN by $1.15 million from the projected budget. See the State of the Budget discussion below for more info.
RESOLUTION of NECESSITY: SIDEWALKS: Notice being given to property owners along the east side of Xenia Ave. (from Corry to Herman) to repair the sidewalks on their property within 90 days, or the village will repair and bill the owners. (The sidewalks had been marked with paint earlier this summer and some property owners have already acted). The list of affected properties will also be posted with the Village Clerk and published in the local paper.
RESOLUTION: Extension of Agreement with Little Miami River Partnership: The cleaned "effluent" of our sewer system runs into the Little Miami River; as such, we have an agreement with the Little Miami River Partnership that basically gets grants to help preserve the river, such as the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). To use the funds remaining in their accounts, the LMRP needs us to renew our agreement with them. This extension will have no financial cost to the village.

  • Tax Budget Discussion/ State of the Budget Presentation: Sharon Potter will report that we are seeing slight decreases of about 10% in our total income (real estate taxes are down by about 2%, Income Taxes are down by 5%, and shared revenues are down). Potter says we are looking at a reduction in our General Fund cash balance, which has been consistently growing for the past 4 years, from about $1.8 million last year to $1.13 million projected for this year. We do not believe this is a reason to panic, but that we are probably going to have to adjust our capital projects goals for the next several years.
  • Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund: We'll receive a report on our EDRLF, which currently has $377,327 in loans distributed to various entities (including interest owed), but most of which is comprised by an open-ended, 0% interest, $300,000 loan to Community Resources for the Center for Business and Education (CBE, the Antioch Midwest site). Most of the other businesses have small, relatively low interest loans (the biggest amount of prinicipal owed is about $20K), on which they are making regular payments. According to the worksheet, we have $28,022.08 available in this fund, but I'd like clarification on some of the numbers.
  • Sidewalk Policy Discussion: In some ways, this is very old business, but it's new to this current Council. We are looking to see if there is any way that sidewalk costs could be partially or wholly paid by the village--either through "caps" on costs or simply changing the ordinance so that sidewalks become publicly funded just like streets. Right now, we do not charge corner-lot residents with sidewalks on two sides for both sidewalks, by resolution. We also pay for the curb-cuts on corners. However, there are real complexities to making a change. I would appreciate citizens' input.
MANAGER'S REPORT: I've attached it--lots of good info. about Visioning, the water tower cleaning, AMP's solar projects, etc.

Executive Session:
Personnel (Village Manager's Evaluation) and Real Estate (Train Station lease)
Poem: This is probably my favorite Billie Collins poem--I think it was the first poem of his that I ever encountered, and I've taken it from the wonderful Poetry 180 website that he created, while serving as poet laureate of the US. (It's also a book you can check out from the public library):

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.
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