2022 In Review | Village Council
- Published: January 5, 2023
In January, the Village received a $1.2 million grant that would allow the Public Works department to upgrade water pipes in some of the oldest portions of the village. At the time, Public Works Director Johnnie Burns said the project was already planned for a phased approach, but the grant would allow the crews to accelerate the timeline of the project.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Village Council members voted to write a letter to the Ohio Legislature to convey their dissent against House Bill 563, a bill that would have removed local legislative power over short-term rentals. Council members said the bill would affect Yellow Springs by removing additional properties from the already low housing stock in the village.
On Monday, March 21, Paige Burge was sworn in as Yellow Springs police chief. Burge is the first woman and member of the LGBT+ community to serve as chief of the YSPD. Burge’s appointment came eight months after the resignation of Chief Brian Carlson. Prior to being announced chief, Burge served as interim chief.
On Tuesday, April 19, Village Council member Lisa Kreeger announced her resignation from Council. Citing increasing demands from her job at Capella University, Kreeger said she had enjoyed her time on Council and hoped that her successor would share her affinity for the public works department. Kreeger retained her seat and her vote until Council was able to fill the vacancy.
On Monday, May 2, Village Council members named Gavin DeVore Leonard as the villager who would fill the Council seat vacated by Lisa Kreeger. At the meeting, DeVore Leonard said he would make decisions about the village using a social justice lens. DeVore Leonard was sworn in at Council’s May 16 meeting.
Village Council revisited the Utility Round-Up program at its June 6 meeting, voting to make some changes to the program so that villagers needing assistance could more easily access funds. These changes came after Elise Burns, the Village utility billing clerk, wrote a letter to Council offering suggestions to bolster the program. After a presentation from Village Manager Josué Salmerón, Council voted to allow villagers to request funds two times in a 12-month period and doubled the amount of assistance given, raising the amount from $200 to $400 for each request.
At the Monday, July 18, meeting, Village Council members voted to allow illage Manager Josué Salmerón to contract with Amy Blankenship of Frost Brown & Todd for services as village solicitor. Blankenship’s hiring followed Council’s decision not to renew Breanne Parcels’ contract with the Village. Village Council also voted to write a letter denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that has allowed abortion access in the United States for nearly 50 years.
After a July decision to halt the use of chemicals to treat Ellis Pond, Village Council members heard updates from the Environmental Commission on pond restoration efforts. With the help of Wright State faculty member Yvonne Vadeboncoeur, the Environmental Commission reported that the pond was retaining phosphorus, which was mostly in the pond’s sediment. The Environmental Commission suggested a short-term goal of removing some of the plants from the pond. Council member Carmen Brown suggested Council work to establish a volunteer program and waiver so that volunteers could help clean and restore the pond. At the time, Village Manager Josué Salmerón said he was unsure how he could work with the commission, but that he wanted to find a solution. Since then, Brown has worked to recruit volunteers from Xylem, a local company, who agreed to clean and monitor the pond. Those talks were stalled after a meeting between Salmerón and Xylem representatives, a meeting that was scheduled without Brown or a member of the Environmental Commission present.
At the Monday, Sept. 19 meeting, Council members voted to establish a $5–$10 stormwater fee for all residential and business customers. The money from the fee — about $100,000 per year, according to Village Manager Josué Salmerón — would go toward fixing the Village’s aging stormwater system.
Village Council members passed an updated noise ordinance to simplify the process of handling noise complaints. The ordinance dictates that loud noise, other than construction noise or noise from equipment necessary for businesses, be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekend. Officers who are tasked with enforcing the ordinance are instructed to consider the time, volume and duration of the noise when citing someone for a violation, which is a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Council members voted down two ordinances: one, an ordinance that would require buskers to register and pay a fee to play in public spaces; the other, an ordinance that would raise the Village’s garbage collection rates and add a 2% fee to educate villagers about recycling. Conversations about both ordinances considered the financial impacts of adding fees in light of the rising cost of living and inflation. Council members also discussed the merits of adding registration requirements and fees for itinerant vendors in the village.
At the Monday, Dec. 19, meeting, Village Council members passed the 2023 budget, which includes pay increases for the Public Works Department and Yellow Springs Police Department. The Village will once again rely on its cash reserves to cover a $2,973,631 deficit. As they passed the budget, Council members said they would be looking at ways to increase revenues in 2023, including raising electric, water, and sewer rates and reducing the reciprocal tax credit, a credit taxpayers who work outside of the Village receive for paying local taxes to other municipalities.