2009 goals focus of Council
- Published: January 29, 2009
The following are the 2008 Village Council goals, which Council members are continuing as broad Village principles. Their 2009 goals will be specific steps toward reaching these six principles.
1. Deepen the democratic decision making process with active citizen participation and effective representative governance.
2. Strengthen the Village as an excellent employer and provider of services within a responsible fiscal framework.
3. Be a welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse race, culture and income.
4. Establish a plan that improves the economic condition of the community.
5. Develop a comprehensive policy that will address global warming and reduce the carbon footprint of our community.
6. Develop a vision of a comprehensive land use plan.
What is the best model for economic development for the village? How much of a priority should Council make green space preservation? How aggressive should the Village be in pursuing energy conservation practices and the use of alternative energy?
These were some of the issues discussed at Village Council on Monday, Jan. 26, at a special meeting devoted to Council‘s 2009 goals. Council members had previously agreed to continue their 2008 Council goals as broad Village values (see sidebar) and in 2009 to set more specific action steps for reaching those broad goals.
The issues above were those about which Council members expressed some disagreement, and which they will address in future discussions. Council will consider goals further after it sets the 2009 Village budget, which will begin next Monday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers. Two other special budget meetings will take place on Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 9 a.m.
Before Monday’s meeting, each Council member had submitted a suggested list of 2009 goals. On Monday Council members agreed on many of those goals, especially those concerning improving the democratic decision-making process, strengthening the Village as an excellent employer and provider of services, and being a welcoming community for people of diverse race, culture and income. Council member John Booth encouraged Council to find ways to reach out to villagers who are under-represented in decision-making.
“Just because they don’t come to Council meetings doesn’t mean they don’t have concerns,” he said.
Council members also agreed on the importance of continuing to completion current projects, including implementing the visioning/planning process, improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and the Glen Helen sanitary sewer main line, a water/sewer rate study, an update of the Village Comprehensive Plan, final approval for the Friends Care Community Barr property apartments, and moving forward with the Center for Business and Education.
Council members Kathryn Van der Heiden and Karen Wintrow encouraged Council to include in its 2009 goals a capital improvement plan for major projects. Wintrow suggested that Council appoint a blue ribbon finance committee to consider how to replace the five-year property tax levy, which is currently in its third year.
The complete list of 2009 goals suggested by Council members can be accessed at http://www.yso.com/; click on Council Packet for the Jan. 26 meeting.
The five-year levy included $50,000 annually for economic development, but the first two years of that revenue has not been spent. Asking why Council hasn’t yet spent the money when everyone seems to agree that economic development is a priority, villager Pat Murphy said, “What’s really going on?”
What’s going on, according to Council President Judith Hempfling, is that “there’s a hard discussion we’ve needed to have and we’ve postponed it.”
Council members agreed that they will have that discussion soon. Council has also been preoccupied with hiring a new Village manager and with the closing of Antioch College, according to Lori Askeland, but “I sense we’re committed to moving forward” on economic development.
In stating their preferences, Hempfling said she supports using energy as a focus for economic development, supports efforts for the rebirth of Antioch College, and supports efforts to localize the economy, as promoted by the recent workshop led by Michael Shuman. Askeland agreed on the importance of an energy focus for new business, and supported villager Benji Maruyama’s suggestion that the Village hold an annual contest for a business plan for a new energy-related business.
Whatever steps the Village takes toward economic development, Hempfling said, “the issue of transparency is key.”
Van der Heiden stated her preference that Council work with Community Resources, the community improvement corporation that developed the Center for Business and Education.
“We need to use the resource we already have,” she said. Wintrow agreed, stating, “We already have economic development groups in town and in Dayton. We need to work with them.”
Council members also differed in how much the Village should commit this year in the Village budget to green space preservation, although they shared a commitment to make some contribution. Tecumseh Land Trust leaders have encouraged Council to bring the green space fund up to $250,000 so that it can act quickly to acquire Jacoby greenbelt land that may be available soon, according to Hempfling. Currently, the green space fund contains about $138,000. Hempfling and Askeland said they support the Village’s contributing $100,000 to green space this year, if that amount is available.
Several community members who attended the meeting spoke in favor of making green space preservation a priority, including Julia Cady of Tecumseh Land Trust, who said that Council’s substantial contribution to the Whitehall Farm purchase made the preservation of that land possible. And former longterm Council member Tony Bent stated that in three surveys of villagers’ priorities taken during his terms on Council, green space preservation and diversity always came out as top priorities.
However, $100,000 may be too much for Council to contribute to green space this year, Van der Heiden said.
“The reality is we have a limited amount of money,” she said. “All of us need to understand we may not be able to get what we want each year.”
Council members also expressed differing views on how aggressively the Village should pursue energy conservation. Hempfling said she supports the Village following the second-phase recommendations of the Electric System Task Force, which include the Village spending up to $50,000 to make Village-owned buildings more energy efficient.
While she supports the task force’s first-phase recommendation that the Village does not need to spend $3.5 million for a new electric substation, she feels less supportive of the second-phase recommendations, Van der Heiden said. Those recommendations call for, along with aggressive conservation measures, more investment in potential alternative energy sources for Village needs. However, Van der Heiden said, the Village will continue to rely on coal for the foreseeable future, and needs to start thinking about new contracts to take the place of current coal plant contracts that will expire in 2012.
Money invested in conservation measures should not be considered as only expenditures, but also as money that will be paid back via savings over time, Maruyama said.