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Miami Township

Miami Township Trustees ponder ARP funding

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A continuing question this fall for Miami Township Trustees has concerned how best to spend about $130,000 in allocated funds through the federal American Recovery Plan, or ARP, related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Township conversations began this past summer, when the trustees learned they would be receiving the funds in two payments spread out over two years. Since then, Trustee Chair Don Hollister has hosted a community meeting to solicit input, and the three-person board has continued the discussion.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, ARP money can be spent in five specific categories:
• To support public health expenditures related to the pandemic;
• To address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency;
• To replace lost public sector revenue;
• To provide premium pay for essential workers;
• To invest in water, sewer and/or broadband infrastructure.

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Local governments don’t have to seek approval in advance for how they plan to use the money, but they do have to commit the funds and report on how they’re being used.

The new ARP funding follows the 2020 CARES Act, which provided nearly $125,000 to the township last year, according to Township records. Hollister has reported that the CARES money was divided among a handful of recipients: about $74,000 went to Miami Township Fire-Rescue, or MTFR, for COVID-related runs, services and protective gear; $20,000 went to the Yellow Springs Development Corporation’s forgivable loan program for local businesses; nearly $17,000 went to a local utilities and rent relief program administered by Yellow Springs Police Community Outreach Specialist Florence Randolph through the Yellow Springs Community Foundation; $10,000 went toward business grants administered through Greene County Development; and about $1,000 contributed to the Community Foundation’s COVID public-information efforts, which included advertising in the Yellow Springs News.

Home, Inc. Executive Director Emily Seibel, who attended the community meeting as well as a subsequent trustees meeting on behalf of the affordable-housing nonprofit, said that about 75 local families were served through the utilities and rent relief program last year.

Seibel’s interest in attending the township meetings was to request $30,000-$50,000 of the ARP funds to serve as seed money toward developing a new senior-housing plan for the vacant property behind the new firehouse. Seibel reported that the previously planned 54-unit senior complex to be constructed there has been scrapped after failing to secure approval for the Low Income Housing Tax Credits program. (A future News story will cover the new developments in Home, Inc.’s plans.)

Other requests for the ARP money include supporting the installation of broadband in the township, the purchase of COVID tests and the extension of water and sewer service, the last of which the Township has no means to do. In addition, the Community Foundation has asked for another $5,000 to go toward continuing rent relief. Trustee Chris Mucher has said that he also anticipates that MTFR could receive a substantial amount of the funds for personnel and run costs related to the pandemic.

“Right now, the No. 1 need is to reimburse ourselves for expenses of the EMS department,” Mucher said at the end of September.

The trustees have agreed that they would like to hear presentations by supporters of the various requests, including the local broadband effort, before deciding how to allocate their funds. They are also working with MTFR Chief Colin Altman to determine the costs associated with the department’s pandemic response this year.

At a trustees meeting earlier this month, Mucher announced that he had learned that additional ARP money was available in the form of grants for cemetery roads. The township has applied for funds to strengthen and pave the vehicle lanes at Glen Forest.

In other recent Miami Township business:

Miami Twp. Fire-Rescue updates
• Chief Altman reported Nov. 15 that the fire-rescue crew had made more than 1,000 runs so far this year, and he projected that the department will reach about 1,200 runs by year’s end.

• Altman also reported that the Premier Health patient treatment room at the new firehouse “is almost completely up and running.” The room is meant to treat or assess the condition of walk-in patients who come to the station rather than call for a squad.

• The Trustees approved the appointment of Brian Bennett as a new volunteer. Altman said Bennett, who lives in Dayton and works at the National Museum of the USAF, already has his EMT certification.

• At the trustees’ Nov. 1 meeting, Altman reported that all but one MTFR member, who has a medical exemption, had been vaccinated for COVID-19 in accordance with the department’s mandate.

• The chief also reported that the department had been having “a little issue” with fire alarm calls to Antioch College. He told the trustees that the department had responded to fire alarms at Birch Hall dorm seven times from Oct. 9 through Nov. 1, and that the majority of the alarms were the result of students smoking marijuana in their rooms. He added that multiple smoke detectors had been disabled as well.

Altman noted that at one time, the department could issue a $300 fine for each such frivolous alarm, but the state eliminated the charge. However, the state recently reinstated the fine, but the letter has to come from the trustees rather than the chief. In the meantime, he has sent a Notice of Violation of the Ohio Fire Code to Antioch’s president, whom he said responded quickly. Altman said he wanted to give her a chance to resolve the problem before taking further action. He also suggested that peer pressure from students unhappy with the multiple alarms might play a role in curbing the behavior of the dorm smokers.

•With the closure last year of Ehman’s Garage, which handled regular vehicle maintenance for the department, finding a new service provider has been a challenge. Altman reported that he has received a quote of about $1,000 a month, for a contract from Atlantic Emergency Solutions, based in McConnelsville, which provides maintenance for Cedarville Township’s emergency department. He plans to review the contract further before making a recommendation.

Zoning inspector’s report
Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf reported Nov. 1 that he had issued two permits in the last month, both for accessory structures. One was on William and Mary Court and the other was on Clifton Road.

He said he also learned recently that a township resident had been renting camping spaces on their property, which is against the zoning code, as the enterprise is not agricultural in nature. Zopf said he had a conversation with the property owner, who said he might take the matter to the

Board of Zoning Appeals.
Mucher noted that representatives of Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice had asked to meet with Zopf and him to discuss the zoning of its property. Zopf said he is “available just about anytime,” and amenable to Mucher making the arrangements.

County land use
Mucher, who also serves on the Greene County Regional Planning board, reported earlier this month that the county’s planning board is resuming the process to develop a 2040 land use plan, an effort that was put on hold last year because of the pandemic. He said that county residents can expect public hearings to begin soon.

State Route 343
Mucher also reported earlier that ODOT has agreed to install “No Engine Brakes” signs on State Route 343 near Swimming Pool Road. A Township request to reduce the speed limit along S.R. 343, based on residents’ concerns, is also being examined, he said.

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