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Village Council

Regular Council Meeting — June 1, 2020

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The following items were discussed at Council’s June 1 regular meeting, held on the videoconference app Zoom. Due to a technical error, it was not broadcast on YouTube, but was available on Facebook Live.

Property tax levy: In November, local voters will decide whether or not to renew a local property tax levy after Council passed 4-0 a resolution to “determine the necessity” of levying a renewal of its 8.4-mill, five-year property tax levy for Village operating expenses. (Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen was absent.) Villagers originally passed the levy in 2010 by one vote. It was renewed in 2015 by a wider margin.

Village Manager Josué Salmerón said the measure supports activities such as parks, recreation, streets, the Gaunt Park pool and the John Bryan Youth Center. According to Council President Brian Housh, without the $750,000 the levy brings in annually to the Village General Fund and due to recent revenue declines from COVID-19 closures, the Village would have to make cuts.

“If we did not have that operating levy, we would have to cut services,” he said.

‘Pay to stay’: Council passed 4–0 the first reading of an ordinance approving the right of village renters to “pay to stay.” The legislation would compel local landlords to accept late payments so that a tenant can stay, rather than be evicted. It would be enforced at Greene County Municipal Court, which oversees local eviction proceedings.

Housh said he brought the measure forward to keep villagers in their residences during the pandemic and due to the fact that rent relief funds may soon be available in the region. If it passes its second reading on June 15, Yellow Springs would be the first municipality in Ohio with the law on the books. The measure would be in effect until the state’s emergency declaration is lifted, according to legislation.

Council Member Laura Curliss suggested language in the final measure that states it only apply to evictions related to nonpayment of rent. Tenants could still be evicted for other reasons, such as health and safety, criminal activity or another “breach of lease.”

Budget cuts: Council moved forward to reduce its 2020 spending budget by $512,946, which is an estimated 12% decline. Village Finance Director Colleen Harris reported that the cuts are necessary after the Village determined it may lose upwards of $328,000 in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of the cuts came from the line item for street maintenance and repair.

“We’re uncertain about the future,” Salmerón said of projections.

Millworks needs new plan: In a 4–0 vote, Council approved a recommendation from Village Planning and Zoning Coordinator Denise Swinger that the preliminary PUD plan for Millworks not be extended another year. Millworks’ owner, Jessica Yamamoto, had applied for the 12-month extension of the plan in March. Council did not move to rezone the property, but will keep it zoned as Planned Unit Development.

Swinger said she made the recommendations because of a change of plans at the property. Yellow Springs Brewery will not be expanding its taproom, there will be no “green corridors” as planned between buildings and improvements to the property along the bike path are not moving ahead. Yamamoto appeared by videoconference to share that delays in materials procurement, the change in the brewery’s plans and now the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the initial plan for Millworks.

“As far as the plan goes, what the plan was six months to a year ago with our economy and our village, it doesn’t make sense to move forward with,” she said.

Other items: Council talked about future legislation addressing the issue of overdue utility bills, specifically the ban on payment plans for renters and long overdue bills. Salmerón shared that longtime Village administrative assistant/HR officer Ruthe Ann Lillich was recently laid off and that the Village’s human resources function will now be contracted out. New, flashing pedestrian signs will be erected at the intersection of Short Street and Xenia Avenue. And prior to the meeting, Council held an executive session for the purpose of discussing potential litigation.

Council’s next meeting is Monday, June 15, at 7 p.m., on the videoconference app Zoom.

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