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Apr
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2024
Village Council

At the Village Council regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, Council members unanimously voted to purchase body-worn cameras for the Yellow Springs Police Department. (Photo courtesy of Axon)

YS Police Department receives body-worn camera grant

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Yellow Springs police officers will have a new feature in the coming months — body-worn cameras. This is the case after Council members voted unanimously to purchase the cameras at their Tuesday, Jan. 17, regular meeting.

The five-year contract for the cameras will be with Digital Alley, a company that sells body cameras and other surveillance equipment to law enforcement and security teams. Digital Alley will provide the cameras, product support and other features, including access to redaction software.

Council members heard comments from Police Chief Paige Burge, who said the police department had received a grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services for $14,472 to cover the costs of the first contract year.

“We’ve been discussing body-worn cameras for over a year,” Burge said. “This is giving us permission to accept those funds so we can move forward with this transparency project.”

According to the contract included with the legislation, the cameras will be leased to the Village for 60 months. The first year will cost $10,353; years two through five will cost the Village $9,468 each year.

In response to a question from Council member Marianne MacQueen, Burge said she would continue to look for grant monies to cover the cost of the body worn cameras, since the state is likely to require all police officers to wear a camera by 2024.

“This is the future,” Burge said. “There is a bill in the House called ‘Andre’s Law’ that would mandate [body-worn cameras].”

MacQueen suggested that the Village reach out to the Ohio Municipal League to seek out grant opportunities for future cost of the cameras. Burge said there will likely be more grant money available later in the year.

Village Manager Josué Salmerón said he shares the concern of ongoing expenses for body-worn cameras. He said he would reach out to the Ohio Municipal League to continue to advocate for funding the mandate for body-worn cameras statewide.

Council members passed the resolution unanimously.

Legislation

Two pieces of legislation — aimed at raising utility rates and planning and zoning fees — expected to be on the agenda for the Jan. 17 meeting were removed to give Salmerón, Council and the village solicitor more time to scrutinize numbers. The first, a set of ordinances that would increase electric, water and sewer utility rates, was addressed in a memo to Council from Judy Kintner, who wrote in an email:

“While you may have been eagerly anticipating the three utility increase ordinances, staff have decided to double check all the increases against final utility revenues for 2022 and then run those past our consultant to assure that all of the increases are sufficient.”

At the meeting, Council President Brian Housh said the legislation would appear at Council’s Feb. 6 meeting.

The other piece of legislation, an ordinance that would increase planning and zoning fees for projects in the village, was removed from the agenda at the beginning of the Jan. 17 meeting to give Village staff more time to review the numbers. In response to a question from MacQueen, who asked if there was a memo circulated explaining the reasoning behind the legislation’s removal, Housh said the topic had come up at the Jan. 3 meeting.

“We got a chart in the packet that compared the fees we were proposing to other municipalities,” Housh said. “I think we should increase the fees more.”

Council voted 4–0 to remove the legislation, with MacQueen abstaining from the vote.

• Council approved a measure to allow Salmerón to enter into a contract with JNT Excavation for a King Street water main extension project.

“We leveraged our purchasing power to add the [King Street extension] to the water main project,” Salmerón said. This is significantly lower than what we had budgeted.”

In another unanimous vote, Council passed a resolution that would allow Salmerón to enter into agreements with property owners abutting the bike trail who would like to build access points between their properties and the bike trail.

According to Salmerón, a property owner is interested in connecting their property to the future site of Mary’s Way, a path that will connect the village to Agraria Center for Regenerative Practices. But without a Council-approved agreement, Salmerón could not enter a contract with the property owner. 

“From a policy perspective, these are things that the Village encourages,” Salmerón said. “We certainly welcome individuals that are looking to create connections into the bike path to allow for multimodal transportation.”

According to the legislation, property owners would be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the connection. Property owners would also be required to submit plans to the Village for approval.

• Council approved a “Then and Now” statement for the first quarter of 2023, which allows the Village finance director to pay National Inspection Corporation, or NIC, for services associated with the Village’s building department. The payment to NIC totals $8,138.40 and covers services rendered in December 2022. The payment to NIC is paid for by fees associated with the Planning and Zoning Department.

• Council also approved a resolution to approve a salary adjustment for Village Clerk Judy Kintner. Kintner will receive a 4% cost of living increase and a 2% merit increase.

Tecumseh Land Trust report

Council heard a special report from Michele Burns, of the Tecumseh Land Trust, who gave an update on the group’s mission to protect farmland surrounding the village and in the neighboring townships. Burns gave an overview of the Jacoby Creek Partnership and the Country Commons, two areas targeted for land conservation because of their inclusion in the watershed that provides the village’s drinking water and their proximity to Glen Helen Nature Preserve and John Bryan State Park.

Tecumseh Land Trust currently holds conservation easements on 3,700 acres of land, including Glen Helen. In response to a suggestion that the greenspace fund be drained at a December 2022 Council meeting, Burns said the Village’s greenspace fund has been instrumental in conserving spaces, such as Whitehall farm, and asked Council to consider keeping some money in the fund. Burns also reminded Council of a 2017 commitment of greenspace money to provide matching funds for conservation easements; the funds help nonprofits like Tecumseh Land Trust, Glen Helen and Agraria to compete for grants by providing matching funds.

One such grant, Burns said, was a USDA National Resource Conservation Service grant to help area farmers implement conservation practices.

“The Village, as you know, is a partner on this grant,” Burns said. “You pledged $205,000 from the greenspace to match [funds] to purchase easements.”

The grant ends Aug. 31, 2023, and has so far helped 12 property owners with projects — planting cover crops, removing invasive species and pasture management.

“It was a very popular program,” Burns said.

Burns said an additional four properties have been awarded funds for conservation easements, but those projects are still pending.

“If the Village redirects the greenspace funds prior to the end of the grant period, we may lose the matching opportunity,” Burns said, indicating priority areas that cover the Jacoby watershed, which provides the village’s drinking water.

Council members said they would review the legislation where the commitment was made and use that information to determine if moving greenspace money is necessary.

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