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Council considers creating an affordability goal

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During a discussion of Council’s 2017 goals at its Feb. 6 meeting, Council members considered creating a new goal to address the issue of affordability in the village. The new goal was proposed by Judith Hempfling, who originally suggested that affordability be considered as part of the existing Village value of being a “welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse races, ages, sexual orientations, cultures and incomes and abilities.”

However, Hempfling said at the meeting, the issue deserves its own focus.

“We should have a broader goal on affordability,” she said.

Affordability is especially timely in the village for several reasons, according to Hempfling. Last year, Council approved utility rate hikes that have increased economic pressure on some villagers, along with a new law that holds landlords responsible for their tenants’ utility debts.

“We want to understand what impact it’s having, and how many shut-offs have taken place,” she said. 

Other Council members expressed agreement, and will continue the discussion at Council’s Feb. 21 meeting. Council stated it hopes to vote on the goals at the beginning of March.

 Currently, Village Council has six overarching “values” that have remained constant for several years, with Council choosing specific strategic goals each year to help strengthen the values. The values are:

1) Deepen decision-making processes with active citizen participation and effective representative governance.

2) Be an excellent employer and provider of services within a responsible fiscal framework.

3) Be a welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse races, ages, sexual orientation, cultures and incomes and abilities.

4) Pursue a strong economy that provides diverse employment, a stable tax base and supports the values of the community.

5) Seek, in all our decisions and actions, to reduce the carbon footprint of the community and encourage sound ecological practices throughout.

6) Provide careful, creative and cooperative stewardship of land resources.

Council is considering the following strategic goals for 2017:

• Continue construction on the new water plant. Update and implement the Source Water Protection Plan (previously the Wellhead Protection Plan) by the end of 2017. 

• Create and implement a Sustainable Economic Development Strategy to support existing businesses and entrepreneurs and attract new opportunities that support the values of the community. (2016 and beyond)

• Develop a strategy for fiscal sustainability. (2016 and beyond)

• Develop a complete streets strategy that will include a strategy to address multi-modal transportation options. (2016 and beyond)

• Work with community organizations, commissions and staff to develop a plan to reduce energy use and increase environmental sustainability. (2016 and beyond)

• Explore the development of a municipally owned fiber optic network that will support all Yellow Springs citizens and encourage economic development. (2016 and beyond)

• Review and update the Village justice system. (2016-2018)

• Develop a master plan for the Glass Farm, to include mixed-income housing, a solar array and a wetland area. (2016-2017)

In response, villager Kate Anderson expressed support for a new focus on affordability, based on her own research into food insecurity in town.

“I think you’d be shocked to know how many hungry people there are in this town,” she said.

In other Council Feb. 6 business:

• Pierrette Wallace of Shook Construction gave an update on the construction of the new water plant. 

The construction began in September, she said, and the process has been helped along by excellent weather. About 95 percent of the concrete structure is complete, and equipment delivery is expected to begin in March. The building process is about 10 days ahead of schedule, and the plant should be completed in about a year, according to Wallace.

• Council member Brian Housh encouraged villagers to fill out surveys to see how villagers want the land formerly known as the CBE to be used. The surveys will be available until Feb. 22, and are available at Tom’s Market, the Emporium, the Bryan Center and the Senior Center, as well as online at The information will be used to help inform a community engagement process on the CBE land use that will begin in March.

• Council agreed to send a letter in support of Next Century Cities, a group that is asking Congress and President Trump to include broadband internet in any federal infrastructure legislation.

• Council unanimously approved an ordinance that authorizes the police department to donate bicycles unclaimed after 90 days to other public agencies.

• Council approved an emergency reading of an ordinance that grants a permanent conservation easement to Tecumseh Land Trust for the Yellow Springs Creek area adjacent to the Bryan Center. The easement allows grant funding for the continued clearing of invasive plants around the creek, according to TLT Director Krista Magaw, who said the land will be managed by Glen Helen.

• Council approved a resolution that designates the local bike path as a State Bike Route as part of a program sponsored by the Ohio Department of Transportation and Bike Ohio. The designation allows the bike path to be included on maps of State Bike Routes in a state effort to encourage bicycle tourism.

• Council approved a motion to increase the wages of hourly Village employees by 2 percent in the upcoming year. Village employees haven’t had an automatic pay increase in the past few years due to fiscal concerns, but leaders believe that finances are now amenable to such an increase.

• Council approved a resolution that authorizes the Village manager to enter into a State of Ohio Small Cities Community Development Block Grant for $23,400 for the replacement or installation of sidewalk ramps on Xenia Avenue from Limestone Street to West South College Street, to enhance access for the disabled.

• During citizens concerns, Teresa Gill expressed her concern to Council regarding affordability in Yellow Springs, especially following utility rate hikes. 

• Also during citizen concerns, Athena Fannin repeated her concerns from Council’s last meeting that she is encountering difficulty when attempting to access public records in the village. Marianne MacQueen asked that Fannin provide more specific information about her experience.

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

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