Northwood City Council on Oct. 14 continued to debate the need for more budget cuts, with some questioning whether further cuts could be made without having a serious impact on city services.
Council several weeks ago approved placing a .25 percent municipal income tax increase for three years on the November ballot to counter sluggish income tax revenue collected by the city in the last year. The revenue would provide funds for capital improvements, capital reinvestment and operating expenses.
The city, which currently has a 1.5 percent income tax rate, would see the rate rise to 1.75 percent if the proposal passes.
Council has made deep cuts in the budget and in personnel in nearly every department, including police, fire, and streets, this year.
As Election Day looms, Council President Jim Barton, who is opposed to a tax increase, thought more could be cut from the budget.
Is it time to change the funding criteria for sewer separation projects mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency so communities aren’t left overwhelmed financially by project costs?
A bi-partisan group of congressional representatives thinks so.
Nine members of congress, including Robert Latta, (R-Bowling Green), is asking the EPA to update its 13-year-old set of rules for scheduling projects to separate combined storm and sanitary sewer systems and assessing the financial capabilities of communities undertaking the projects.
The representatives are asking the chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to have the EPA update its guidance document that was adopted in 1997 for combined sewer overflows.
“…EPA has increased the number of enforcement actions it is pursuing against communities with combined sewer systems. In pursuing these enforcement actions, EPA often requires communities to undertake projects to correct these events often seeking rate increases that amount to 2 percent of the ratepayer’s Median Household Income,” a letter from the representatives to the chairmen says.
Relying on median income as the primary indicator of financial ability doesn’t accurately reflect a community’s ability to undertake the projects or correspond to “an equally determinable water quality improvement,” the letter says.
City Administrator Mike Beasley said last week that he will look into the possible use of wind turbines to power city facilities as a way to cut utility costs.
Beasley said he’s looked at the issue for the last several years, but was not sold on the idea.
“I’ve looked at the issue of using alternative energy sources for public, governmental buildings over the last 10 years or so,” Beasley said at a committee of the whole meeting Oct. 18. “I had a hard time making the math work so that the cost per kilowatt hour, or for a thousand cubic feet of gas, would work right for the governmental side.”
The issue has changed over the years, making it a feasible alternative energy source, he said.
“That really has changed in recent times with the public-private partnership model, which allows a private entity to take advantage of tax credits for the alternative energy product, and at the same time, essentially providing power directly to the governmental entity, or having a lease system so that the governmental entity never has a capital obligation,” said Beasley. “In some models, it cashes out in year one for the governmental entity. So you provide an alternative power source and we save money in year one on our bottom line, while at the same time shifting some of our load to sustainable energy. The wind turbine models look very good.”
Pledging to remember the victims of the June 5 tornado and rebuild the community, Lake Township officials broke ground for a new township administration building with a gathering of about 80 persons looking on.
“Brick by brick we will rebuild this township,” Mark Hummer, township administrator and police chief said. “June 5th seems like a lifetime ago for a lot of us. Unfortunately it was a lifetime for seven of us.”
Melanie Bowen, a township trustee, asked the gathering for a moment of silence for the victims and their families.
“We will never forget them, never,” she said.
She thanked the many agencies and departments that assisted the township in the aftermath of the storm.
The 32nd Apple Festival recently took place Oct. 9-10, and as usual, the annual festival was successful in attracting thousands of people to the village of Oak Harbor.
The event, which is sponsored by a multitude of local businesses and attracts approximately 30,000 people, takes place the second full weekend in October every year.
The festival, like any other small town event, entices people to return home for a weekend, giving them the chance to connect with old friends and acquaintances they’ve not seen for some time.
“It’s a tradition that seems to catch everyone’s attention,” said Derek Gerber, a 26-year old Columbus resident who grew up in Oak Harbor. “It brings everyone back. I know that when I go home I’m going to see a lot of my friends.”
The two-day event, which closes off several blocks of the downtown area, begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and ends at just after 6 p.m. on Sunday. The festival features a wide variety of events, including the 5K Apple Run, a car show, the Grand Parade and entertainment from local groups.