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Council eyes Village commissions

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At their Oct. 20 meeting, Village Council members began a discussion on whether and how best to standardize practices for Village boards and commissions.

The issue has been sparked by the revitalization of the Environmental Commission by Council member Marianne MacQueen, along with recent questions from some commission members regarding their role, according to Council member Brian Housh.

“I believe we should do some standardizing,” Housh said of the commissions.

The Village has several citizen groups that provide guidance and expertise to Council, including the Energy Board, the Human Relations Commission, the Public Arts Commission, the Library Commission and the newly reconstituted Environmental Commission. A new commission will be formed soon to review the Village Charter.

However, the groups have somewhat different personalities and responsibilities and those differences should be respected, according to MacQueen.

“Each group is unique and should be looked at uniquely,” she said.

Housh will bring recommendations to Council soon that he hopes will help the groups run more effectively, he said.

MacQueen will bring legislation to re-up the Environmental Commission to Council’s Nov. 3 meeting.

In other Council Oct. 20 business:
• Council continued a discussion regarding unexpectedly high costs of a repair to the Yellow Springs Library roof. While the Greene County Library operates the local library, the Village owns and maintains the building.

While an earlier estimate placed the cost of the roof repair at about $204,000, the most recent estimate was over $258,000. The difference can be explained by increases in materials and labor, according to architect Ted Donnell, who is married to Council President Karen Wintrow. Wintrow recused herself from the discussion.

Donnell emphasized that the library repair can’t be put off longer.

“The roof is failing significantly,” he said. “Let’s go ahead and get this done.”

Village Manager Patti Bates recommended moving ahead with the project, using $150,000 that had been set aside for new construction at the Sutton Farm (no bids were received on that project) along with $50,000 set aside for the library and additional money from the facilities fund. Bates will bring legislation to the next Council meeting.

• Council members began a discussion on instituting a three-percent excise tax on potential customers of the under-construction Mills Park Hotel. The downtown hotel, which will have 26 rooms, provides the first time that Yellow Springs has a large enough hotel to consider adding the tax, which would go into the general fund, according to Bates. The tax would be levied on costs of the hotel rooms only, and not on the new facility’s restaurant.

Council members will revisit the excise tax discussion at a later date.

• With Village Finance Director Melissa Vanzant, Council began a discussion of the 2015 Village enterprise funds and special revenue funds. They will continue the enterprise fund discussion at Council’s Nov. 3 meeting.

• Bates reported that a search committee has reviewed applications of 15 top applicants for the position of Village assistant manager. About 50 applications were received for the position, and the committee is comprised of Bates, Vanzant, Wintrow, villager Chris Bongorno and Lois
McKnight, community development director of Deerfield Township, northeast of Cincinnati. Bates also presented a timeline for the hiring process, which includes a first round of interviews this week, a second round next week, and a public meet-and-greet of the finalists on Monday, Nov. 10.

Housh expressed appreciation for the inclusive nature of both this search and the search for the new police chief.

• Bates reported that she recently became aware of billing difficulties from the Greene County Planning Commission, with whom the Village is contracting for planning services. The Village only recently received bills for the beginning of 2013, for $13,417, and had not received 2014 billing, although the contract states that billing should take place monthly. Later Bates received bills from Planner Steven Anderson for the rest of 2013 and 2014 in the amount of $19,214. However, she explained to Anderson that the funds for the services delivered in 2013 were no longer available, and that the Village would likely not pay for these.

Bates recommended that the Village pay Greene County Planning the amount not encumbered in the professional services budget line for 2014.

• Council’s next regular meeting takes place Monday, Nov. 3, with a special starting time of 5 p.m. to discuss the Village enterprise funds before the regular meeting.


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