Village Council

2014 capital project budget— Village Council sets priorities

In a year of deficit spending, what capital projects are essential? At their April 7 meeting Village Council members considered that question, prioritizing capital needs for the Village. Council will vote on legislation for the 2014 capital budget at its April 21 meeting.

Sidewalk repair remains a priority, Council members agreed, and this year’s Village budget contains $90,000 in the street fund, with an equal amount projected for 2015, to complete the downtown sidewalk renovation. The project doesn’t include other sidewalks around town, according to Street Crew Head Jason Hamby. The street fund currently has a surplus of $279,019.

However, Council member Marianne MacQueen urged Council to add $12,000 to the capital budget to repair sidewalks around Mills Lawn School, where safety hazards have been brought to Council’s attention. Replacing all the sidewalks around the school would be a more expensive project, around $58,000, according to Hamby, but the $12,000 would allow the crew to repair the 18 spots where the sidewalk has heaved on Elm and Walnut streets. Council members agreed to the repairs, and also to MacQueen’s suggestion that the Mills Lawn sidewalks be repaired before the downtown sidewalks.

The streets capital projects fund also includes $63,600 this year out of a total cost of $122,000 for a new dump truck, which Hamby has recommended as necessary.

The main capital need in the parks fund is $140,000 for two new steel bridges at Ellis Park, with one bridging the spillway where a villager last year sustained a serious injury while trying to cross. The spillway is hazardous, Council members have stated, and some kind of solution to walking across the spillway should be found. While the expense had been taken out of this year’s capital project budget, Council continued a discussion on the best way to address the problem.

The $70,000 cost of a bridge gave pause to Council at the April 7 meeting, and Hamby observed that the Village has tried a variety of low-cost measures to keep people from crossing the slick spillway, but they do so anyway. Villager Dan Reyes encouraged Council to consider less expensive solutions, including stepping stones, rather than a full-priced, ADA compliant solution.
“I encourage you to look at the problem with more creativity,” he said.

Overall, Council members stated that they want villagers to weigh in regarding their desire for a bridge at Ellis Park, or other solutions in order to eliminate a current hazard.

“We haven’t heard from citizens on this,” Lori Askeland said. “We want to know where the community is.”

This year’s capital project budget also includes $20,000 for upgrades to the Gaunt Park pool. According to Hamby, the park’s crew will add more shading to the pool area and is also looking at “a better way to use the grassy space” that last year prompted concerns when insecticide was poured full strength on the area, to eliminate bees. The crew may pave over some of the grassy space to eliminate the threat of bees, he said. The parks fund has a current balance of $321,755.

The parks capital projects budget also includes about $35,000 in needed repairs to the skate park. Council had previously expressed hope that villagers could contribute to skate park repairs, and a $3,000 community donation is available, Hamby said.

The facilities fund capital projects budget, which has a current balance of $319,233, includes two main expenditures this year. $150,000 is budgeted for a new roof on the Yellow Springs library, and $50,000 for the first stage of a multiyear improvement project at the Village’s Sutton Farm crew facilities. The expense is necessary to construct a shelter for Village equipment, which needs to be protected from weather, Hamby said.

The capital fund budget for this year also includes $50,000 for upgrades to the Bryan Center, and especially to Council chambers. Councilman Gerry Simms, who has led the Council chamber upgrade project, will present information at Council’s April 21 meeting on the improvements needed. Bryan Center upgrades would be paid out of the general fund balance of about $2 million.

Council members said they would like to hear from villagers in the Fair Acres neighborhood regarding repairs to their streets. The streets need considerable repair, according to Interim Manager Kent Bristol, because the initial construction was faulty and the Village could either start over and replace the streets, along with water and sewer pipes (at a cost of about $880,000) or just upgrade the streets, at a cost of about $80,000. The Village needs more input from the neighborhood before going ahead, Bristol said.

The 2014 capital project budget is available online at yso.com. Click on the April 7 Council packet.

In other Council April 7 business:
• Council heard from villagers Amy Magnus and Dawn Johnson, who urged Council members to bring municipal broadband to the village.

“The Internet has become a utility, like water and electricity,” Magnus said, stating that more villagers are now telecommuting, and service in recent years has declined. “There are signs that people are frustrated and their needs are not being met.”

Municipal broadband could mean higher speed Internet for villagers, along with improved health care and police protection, Magnus said.

The women have initiated a survey to identify community Internet needs, and also encouraged Council to move forward with a grant application for the service.

Karen Wintrow expressed interest but concern that the Village may not have the capacity at this time to apply for the grant. She requested that Magnus and Johnson bring more information to an upcoming meeting.

• Council heard the annual report from the Yellow Springs library from Greene County Library Director Karl Colon.

• Council heard a presentation from Greene County Council on Aging Director Karen Puterbaugh on the Senior Services levy on the May budget. Several representatives of the Yellow Springs Senior Center also attended.

About 40 percent of villagers are over 55 and that number will increase in the future, according to YSSC Director Karen Wolford, who said that 35 percent of the YSSC budget comes from the Council on Aging.

Council members encouraged villagers to support the levy.

“We have seen seniors contribute so much to the community. They deserve to get paid back in this small way,” MacQueen said.

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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