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Summary of March 13 Village Council Meeting

By Andy Chappell-Dick

At the March 13 regular meeting of the Bluffton council, Mayor RIch Johnson's first order of business was to call upon Police Chief Ryan Burkholder. The chief announced that the department's Citizen of the Year for 2022 was Chad Cupples, who has done extensive advocacy following last year's on-duty death of Officer Dominic Francis. Cupples' work was instrumental in pushing forward memorials for Francis on Interstate 75 and in town. He was present to accept the award and received a round of applause.

In committee reports, Councilor Ben Stahl reported for Parks and Recreation. The big news was a SumiRiko land donation; the committee looks forward to moving ahead with grading the area for soccer fields. Planning for pedestrian and recreation facilities has begun. 

Pathway work this spring will be along County Line Road between Jefferson and College, consisting of a blacktop path separated from the road by a treelawn.  The stretch along SR 103 towards the fast food restaurants is delayed until 2024.

Nine bills were up for consideration, wiht seven to be passed immediately under emergency rules.  Spoiler alert: all passed unanimously with little or no discussion.  The full text of each resolution or ordinance can be found on the Village's website, but it's also found in the Council meeting packet, available HERE.

The bills were as follows:

1.  The third reading of the annual appropriations bill, setting the Village's budget for the year.

2.  The third reading of an ordinance that changes some rules for Maple Grove, the Village-owned cemetery.  Citizens who wonder what rules beyond common courtesy might prevail in a cemetery, and which of them merit updating in the 21st century, would do well to read the text of this bill.

3.  Ten years ago Council created the position of Director of Safety Services, and with this emergency ordinance it is eliminated.  The text contains no rationale for the action, and none was offered for discussion.

4.  This bill capped a long process of wage review for Village employees, all of whom will see wage increase as listed in an attached exhibit, retroactive to the beginning of the year.

5.  Last year EMS volunteers saw a substantial increase in the hourly wage paid while performing rescue runs; this resolution adds for the first time an hourly wage of $5 for being on call at night and on weekends. No discussion ensued; past conversations show it is hoped the policy will bolster shrinking volunteer numbers.

6.  A resolution setting the pay scale and admission prices at the municipal swimming pool. Slight increases are seen across the board, but Councilor Stahl stated that it's still the Village's goal to find a balance between affordable rates for citizens while also covering as much of the operating costs as possible.

7.  Sometimes in the course of everyday operation of a bustling Village it's necessary to have a resolution about curbs.  With the upcoming work on South Main Street, this bill adds driveway approaches to a previous bill concerning whose curb is crumbling and who pays to fix it.  Letters are going out to affected property owners.

8.  With spring comes the annual contract to grind and resurface Village streets that come up on the long range maintenance rotation. Bluffton Stone Company provided a qualified bid that Council accepted. Costs are up between 8-14% across the various services involved.

9.  The final ordinance was an agreement between the Village and the state to install signage along Main Street indicating that it is part of an official US Bicycle Route.  The signs are provided at no cost but the Village will maintain them on its own poles.

Following the departure of the Icon reporter, the following report was made to council by Village Administrator Jesse Blackburn. The following is part of the meeting packet.

Administration's Report To: Mayor Johnson & Council Members 3-13-2023

1. S.R. 103 Curb Repair: Public Meeting to present this project to affected property owners will be held on Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room on the third floor of the Town Hall.

- Contract with Bluffton Stone Company/Bluffton Paving Inc. for aggregate, asphalt and equip rental for 2023

1. Lawn & Jackson Watermain Replacement:
Concrete repair work has been completed with trench paving and seeding in April.

2. Bentley Rd. Intersection Improvements
Installation of water main and service lines continue, storm sewer lines will be installed next week

3. S.R. 103 Sanitary Replacement
Construction planned for next week,

Rumpke - 1 yr. Contract Extension - Approved Feb 27th
The contract extension document has been prepared and will be signed by Mayor Johnson after Council to approve the continuation of services from Rumpke of Ohio, Inc. Weekly services for trash and recycling will be continued at a new rate of $21.72 beginning May 1st. This new monthly rate will appear on the Bluffton Utility bill due June 25th, 2023.

Travelling Safety of Village Sidewalks continues to be a priority-
Precision Concrete Cutting has completed the removal of tripping hazards and restored sidewalks throughout town to compliant conditions provided by the American with Disabilities Act.

Chestnut Lane Subdivision - J&D Snyder Excavating, Bluffton, OH have begun installing the first components of this subdivision. Sanitary sewer collection lines have been installed.

Annual Meeting with Allen County Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC) - Meeting set for this Wednesday to review current tax incentives being offered in Allen County. Diamond Manufacturing has two agreements currently in place.

A gracious donation of land from SRK-OH was formally gifted to Bluffton on March 2, 2023 to serve our community with public soccer fields and park area. The field area is being surveyed this week with development ideas to follow in the near future!! THANK YOU SRK-OH!!!

Natural Gas Aggregation - opportunity coming to Bluffton voters
The May 3rd ballot will include the option to vote for a natural gas aggregation.
What is aggregation? Definition. In Ohio, local communities are allowed, by law, to join their citizens together to buy natural gas and/or electricity as a group and thereby gain buying power to solicit the lowest price for the group's natural gas and/or electricity needs. This is called Governmental Aggregation.

Council Committee Meetings: Request for meetings with:
✓ Parks and Recreation 

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