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Village Council — Levy monies spent as promised

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At their Jan. 18 meeting Village Council members unanimously approved a resolution to place a renewal of the Village 8.4 mill property tax operating levy on the ballot in May.

“A renewal is necessary to maintain the status quo of services,” Village Manager Mark Cundiff said at the meeting.

Council has been discussing the possibility of renewing the levy for about a year, with early discussions focused on the possibility of asking for a reduced levy amount. However, a combination of factors, including a number of issues related to the stagnant economy — including a sharp decline in investment income, a decline in income tax revenues and proposed state funding cuts — indicate that a renewal of the current levy is necessary, Cundiff and Council members have said. The levy adds about $750,000 annually to the Village general fund.

“We couldn’t anticipate the economy tanking,” Cundiff said.

In response to an earlier request from Council, Cundiff wrote a memo for the Jan. 18 meeting detailing the uses of the five-year-old property tax levy, which expires at the end of this year.

According to the memo, the levy promised $1,633,936 in street improvements, and $1,895,204 worth of improvements were made. The bulk of the money was spent on repaving Village streets, with two out of every three streets repaired or repaved in the past four years. An additional 1.34 miles of streets are slated to be repaired this year, which will result in about 70 percent of Village streets having been improved.

Beginning last year after the bulk of repair and repaving, the Village began a pavement management program, which, according to the memo, will add years to the useful life of the streets. Also with levy money, $130,273 in capital equipment for the roads crew was purchased, including a snow plow, street sweeper, dump truck and salt spreader.

Regarding public safety, the levy promised $27,617 in improvements to police department projects, and $127,029 of improvements was delivered. These included the replacement of two police cruisers, equipment for the cruisers and office equipment.

The levy promised $531,943 in repairs to Bryan Community Center capital projects and maintenance, and $611,943 of improvements will have been delivered by the end of the year. These included the replacement of a boiler, parking lot repair, an upgrade in the center’s HVAC system, carpet replacement, roof replacement, and various interior renovations. This year $80,000 of capital projects, including energy efficiency improvements, is anticipated.

Regarding the Gaunt Park swimming pool, $493,657 worth of improvements was promised, and by the end of this year $464,995 will have been delivered. These improvements included a complete renovation of the pool, separating the baby pool’s filtration system, and repair of pool gutters. The cost of these repairs turned out to be less than half of the amount anticipated, and there is currently $206,325 designated for future pool capital improvements. In 2010, the Gaunt Park pool was the only operating municipal swimming pool in Greene County.

The levy included $50,000 yearly for economic development, and in the first four years, $60,989 was used, with the majority for the hiring of the economic sustainability coordinator position in the fall of 2009. There is a balance of $176,856 in the Village economic development fund for future projects.

In his memo, Cundiff stated that the renewed levy will allow the Village to continue to deliver its current services.

Those services attract residents to the village, according to Karen Wintrow, who said, “I believe people live in Yellow Springs for the quality of life here, and someone has to pay for the services.” These services will also attract new businesses to town, Wintrow said.

However, according to villager Sue Abendroth, the question is, “Can we afford the level of services we want and that we’ve been getting?” Abendroth urged Council members to consider the effects of the economic downturn on local taxpayers.

In other Council business:

• Council heard the annual report from the Human Relations Commission from HRC member Joan Chappelle. The group’s mission is to “promote harmony among persons of the village and address discrimination and prejudice.” The group has identified four goals, including empowering youth and training youth facilitators; promoting community participation and inclusion; building strong neighborhoods and promoting good police/community relations.

To accomplish these goals, the group requested $10,400 from the Village budget.

Specific actions toward the goal of youth empowerment include working with YSHS principal Tim Krier to include more youth in decision-making at the school; hosting a variety of workshops and training programs to empower youth; encouraging forums and conversations between youth and police and youth and other citizens to increase understanding; working with skateboarders and Village staff to increase communication and help expand the park.

To promote community participation, the HRC has launched a new Web site,, to increase communication about HRC events, and will promote community dialogues around a variety of topics. Regarding building strong neighborhoods, the group hosts neighborhood block parties each August (there were 19 parties last year) and works to promote “good neighbor” relations.

To help promote good police/community relations, the group will continue to monitor community and police communication, and refer complaints to the chief of police as needed. During 2010 citizen complaints against the police were reduced dramatically, according to the report.

In response to the report, Karen Wintrow repeated her request made at an earlier meeting that HRC provide Council with more documentation of its activities. Chappelle said she was unaware of the request, and the group will happily do so.

Citizen Becky Campbell questioned the amount of funds used for snacks for young people at HRC activities.

HRC meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Rooms A and B in the Bryan Center, and the public is invited.

• Council approved a third reading of an ordinance authorizing the appointment of one or two alternate members to the board of Zoning Appeals, and to the Village Planning Commission. Council approved dues for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, and approved revised Council rules and goals.

• The next regular Council meeting will take place Monday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers. On Monday, Jan. 31, Council will hold a special meeting on the 2011 Village budget.

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