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Village Council

Village Council to hire new solicitor

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At its Monday, July 18 meeting, Village Council passed a resolution to allow Village Manager Josué Salmerón to negotiate a contract with Amy Blankenship of Frost Brown Todd LLC as the new village solicitor.

Council’s announcement followed several executive sessions dedicated to the review of candidates after the July 1 ending of Village Solicitor Breanne Parcel’s contract. Parcels has continued to work for the Village at an hourly rate of $185.

Council members spoke about the process, saying that Blankenship and other candidates are members of law firms that the Village has worked with in the past year. Council members Marianne MacQueen and Gavin DeVore Leonard said Council took into consideration the different types of advice each solicitor candidate, including Parcels, would be able to provide the Village.

“We looked at the various considerations that were important to us, concerns that staff has had and how that can change over time,” MacQueen said.

“Because we consider so many types of initiatives we need different types of legal advice,” Devore Leonard said in agreement.

Council member Carmen Brown said that she was looking for a candidate who would both work with Council and adhere to the Village Charter.

“It is important to me that the charter not be simply used as an advisory document,” Brown said. “Through the interview process, I was able to discern who would find a balance between what we are trying to do and someone who would be neutral.”

According to the legislation, Salmerón will negotiate on behalf of the Village to determine compensation for Blankenship.

In other Council Business, July 18:

Council members passed two resolutions directing Salmerón to pursue grant money for new water meters and to repave streets. These grants, funded through the Ohio State Capital improvement fund, would allow the Village to further leverage dollars already slated to be spent in these two areas.

According to Salmerón, the grant money would allow the Village to replace all 2,000 water meters in the village, including ones that are currently located inside homes and businesses.

“It makes it very difficult for our team to access the meters for readings and identifying leaks,” Salmerón said. “Modernizing our meter reading system will pay huge dividends.”

Salmerón said he envisions a utility where people can see their water usage in real time and be alerted to potential leaks through an app.

This isn’t the first time the Village has pursued grants to fund water meter replacement.

“They’re not a top priority for the state,” Salmerón said, “but we keep going after it and hope we will get funded.”

As part of the grant application, Salmerón said the Village would offer a 16% local match. The total estimated cost for the water meter project is $886,550, so a 16% local match would cost the Village $141,848.

Council passed a second resolution aimed at roadway upkeep. According to Salmerón, the roadway maintenance project would fund ongoing repairs and maintenance to the Village’s roads.

“We spend about $70,000 on road resurfacing per year.” Salmerón said. “If we are rewarded it will increase our expenditure but complete more road resurfacing at one time.”

The project would also have a 16% match, which would cost the Village $114,119. The total cost of the project would be $713,247.

Council passed a resolution approving a memorandum of understanding, or MOU between the Village and Agraria for a Climate Action Sustainability Plan coordinator. The Village will spend $25,000 to fund the CASP program in its second phase and Agraria will hire and supervise the coordinator, said CASP steering committee member Alex Klug, who presented on the second phase of the CASP program.

Council members heard a first reading of an ordinance that would establish a use policy for the municipal broadband network. The policy acknowledges that extending Wi-Fi as a utility gives municipalities the option to surveille customers; to that end, the policy ensures customers that the Village will only store required amounts of data “needed for internal service support and billing.”

Ellis Jacobs, who worked with the Village and the Springs-Net group on the language of the policy, said the policy would be unlike other municipal broadband policies.

“The Village would be adopting the strongest privacy and net neutrality legislation in the country,” he said.

Council will hear a second reading at its Aug. 15 meeting.

Additional coverage of Council’s July 18 meeting will appear in next week’s issue of the News.

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