Budget takes slow track to approval

By BRIAN BOHNERT
STAFF WRITER
With two seats left unoccupied Tuesday, Fostoria City Council was forced to put time-sensitive legislation on a slow track to approval.
Council excused the absences of 2nd Ward Representative Greg Flores and At-Large Representative Dave Bettenhausen Tuesday night. The absences put City Auditor Steve Garner under the gun to get the 2015 city budget to the Seneca County Auditor by Sunday’s deadline.
Garner presented the budget for the 2015 fiscal year to the five remaining councilpersons Tuesday, proposing emergency approval so he may submit the report to the county on time. In order for city council to suspend the three-reading rule and adopt the budget, at least six of the seven members must have been in attendance.
“This is a first for me,” Garner said after the meeting.
Garner, who has been the city’s director of finance since October 2005, said he has never faced a situation like this and is unaware of any repercussions for a late submission of the city’s budget report.
The auditor, along with several members of council, discussed holding an emergency meeting soon in order to get the financial plan to the appropriate destination as soon as possible. As of Tuesday, no such meeting has been scheduled.
According to Garner’s budget report, approximately $6.2 million will be alloted for general fund spending with 73 percent of 2015’s expenditures, nearly $4.5 million, being factored in for “Security of Persons” expenses.
General fund revenues have been up and down since the Great Recession in 2008, but Garner said he has anticipated an overall increase of 3.9 percent for 2015. Additionally, he said 74 percent of 2015’s estimated revenues come from the 2 percent municipal tax, adding up to $4.7 million of the $6,190,096 total.
Council gave a first reading to the resolution adopting the budget.
In other business, council gave a first reading to an ordinance establishing a revised job creation, retention and investment incentive policy that would provide a new tool for spurring economic development in Fostoria.
According to the ordinance, “the use of city funds to promote capital investment and the creation and retention of jobs will increase taxable property and the business prospects within the city.”
Under the new policy are the Municipal Jobs Tax Credit Program and the Job Creation Grant Program.
The purpose of the tax credit program, as highlighted in the ordinance, is to create jobs and increase tax base. The program would allow the city to provide businesses with tax credits based upon the creation of new jobs.
The ordinance states all types of companies are eligible for the program, but priority will be given to manufacturing, distribution and service companies.
The Job Creation Grant Program, which was designed to “maintain Fostoria’s competitiveness as a location for new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses,” would look to provide an incentive for businesses investing in the city. According to the ordinance, no grant award will exceed $20,000, payable in 10 annual installments of up to $2,000 each.
Also during the meeting, council gave a first reading to an ordinance that would allow the city to advertise for bids for upcoming waterline improvements on Jackson Street. The project, which will come at an estimated price tag of around $250,000, would see crews replacing eight-inch waterlines from Buckley Street to Spruce Street with 10-inch pipes.
Funding for the project would be split 50/50 between State Issue 1 funds and the city’s Water & Sewer Extension & Improvement fund with each paying $131,086. Fifty percent of the state’s expenses will come from a grant, with the other half coming from a 10-year, zero-percent interest loan.
Thornton said he hopes to open the project up for bidding Aug. 13 with the actual project set to see completion by Nov. 15.
Additionally, council gave a first reading to an ordinance granting the city to enter into agreements with the Ohio Department of Transportation regarding milling and paving work along several areas in and around the Fostoria area.
City Engineer Dan Thornton said ODOT is scheduled to begin a project next year that will see roadwork done along several state routes. According to the ordinance, ODOT will mill and pave 1½-inches of asphalt on:
• Ohio 12, from the east corporation limits of the village of Arcadia to the west corporation limits of Fostoria.
• Ohio 18/Ohio 613 (Van Buren Street), from the west corporation limits of Fostoria to Fremont Street.
• Ohio 18/Ohio 613 (North Street), from Vine Street to the Seneca County line (Countyline Street).
• Ohio 613, from the intersection with Ohio 186 and Ohio 235 to Interstate 75.
Thornton said the city will only pay for the portion of the project done inside city limits. The cost of that work, he said, is estimated at approximately $130,000. According to the ordinance, ODOT will be responsible for 80 percent of the costs associated with the project inside the city, with the city covering the matching 20 percent of the costs.
A first reading was also given to an ordinance authorizing the city to participate in the ODOT Cooperative Purchasing Program. Under this program, the city would be permitted to bid through the state for machinery, materials, supplies and other articles used for construction work.
Thornton said entrance into the program is a one-time occurrence that grants the city access to state bids for supplies like roofing materials, asphalt and other pieces of machinery and equipment. The city already goes through the state when advertising bids for salt used during winter.
While this can be used on an as-needed basis, Thornton said the city submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration this past Friday for the Airport Improvement Plan Grant in order to seal cracks on the runway of Fostoria Metropolitan Airport. He said he hopes to have the project started this fall.
In other business:
• Council gave a first reading to an ordinance vacating a portion of Vine Street and also a portion of an unnamed alley bound on the north by Ernest Street; on the west by lot nos. 300 and 301; and, on the east by lot nos. 278 and 279. The Mennel Milling Company filed a petition for the vacancy of the plots of land on Dec. 27, 2011 and revised it on Aug. 5, 2013.
• Council approved an ordinance requiring anyone erecting a new swimming pool on their property to install a fence around the structure at least six feet high.
• Council adopted an ordinance allowing Fostorians 24 hours, instead of 12 hours, to clear snow, ice and other weather-related debris from their sidewalks.
• Mayor Eric Keckler invited everyone to attend this weekend’s SummerFest celebration downtown. Keckler also extended invitations to the July 23 Lunch on the Lawn and the July 27 summer concert series performance at Wainwright Amphitheatre on the grounds of Foundation Park.
The next regular meeting of Fostoria City Council is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building.

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