Baltimore achieves 24/7 police coverage
By Charles Prince
BALTIMORE - The last piece in the puzzle will soon be in place.
Police Chief Michael Tussey told council members Monday night that the appointment of Larry Kilbarger as a part-time police officerwill fillthe last slots for around-the-clock coverage. Kilbarger, who retired after 25 years with the Lancaster Police Department, will cover the Saturday and Sunday morning shifts. He will continue to work as a county probation officer.
Mayor Robert Kalish swore in Kilbarger and Ron Clark as part-time officersduring Monday night's council meeting. Clark, who had 13 years with the Powell Police Department before leaving as a lieutenant to handle security for Time Warner, will assist with training and investigations.
Scheduling for 24/7 coverage will become easier next year when a third full-time officeris hired. Kilbarger's appointment will provide 24/7 coverage, provided no one gets sick or has to work over at their full-time post. In those cases, Tussey often tries to cover those shifts by working them himself, but that's not always possible.
In other business Monday night, Kalish broke a 3-3 tie by voting to amend a resolution authorizing a three-year contract for a village income tax administrator. The vote, during the second reading, should resolve a controversy that has been brewing for months.
Armand L. Houze has served as the village's independent income tax administrator for 18 years. Last year, he formed a strategic alliance with The Fentress Group, LLC of Columbus. Last June, Winfree, Ruff & Associates, with an officein Baltimore, asked permission to submit a proposal to serve as the village income tax administrator for a three-year period beginning January 1, 2008. The Pickerington based firm, with another officein Lancaster, proposed a $2,250 per month charge. Fentress submitted a proposal for $2,240 per month for 2008, $2,285 per month for 2009 and $2,330 per month for 2010. Winifree Ruff represented a $1,260 savings over the three year period. Ultimately, a special council meeting was set for October 29 to consider an ordinance to authorize a contract with Winifree Ruff to serve as tax commissioner. That ordinance was amended to renew with Fentress with a second reading set for Nov. 12.
The dispute attracted the attention of Baltimore's business community. Bob Badgeley, representing the Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce and Captivating Images, said council members should also consider the payroll taxes paid by Winifree Ruff personnel in addition to the savings offered over The Fentress Group. "This is an opportunity to look at a local business," he said. Tony Caito, owner of HER-Farmers Realty and president of the chamber, said, "We need to support each other on a local level." He said he always makes an effort to support local businesses.
Jean G. Farmers, with Peoples Bank and vice president of the chamber, said supporting local businesses is important.
"You can't expect residents to support local businesses if you don't," local business owner Leann Kirkpatrick told council. "You need to set an example."
Debate on the issue, including whether Fentress was properly answering telephone calls and whether a $7,500 software package was needed, continued for about 30 minutes. Council members went into executive session for about 15 minutes to discuss whether Fentress had violated terms of its contract with the village. Officials concluded that they had not and the issue moved to a vote. Council members Jim Hochradel, Tony House and Dwayne Mohler supported the amendment to award the three-year contract to Winifree Ruff with Bob Hankison, Judy Landis and Chuck Keller voting "no." Kalish broke the tie, by supporting the amendment. The ordinance was only amended Monday night, not adopted. It will be heard for the third and final time at the Nov. 26 meeting. Assuming no one changes sides and offers another amendment, Winifred Ruff will become the tax administrator effective January 1.
In other matters, Hochradel reported that the Planning Commission has been discussing minimum fence heights for pools and the possibility of creating an administrative variance for homes in the original Baltimore and Basil plats now zoned R- 4. Due to the size of these lots, property owners typically have to seek a variance to add anything to their property. An administrative variance procedure could eliminate the need to pay a $375 application fee and go through the sometime lengthy variance process, Hochradel explained. The administrative procedure would likely be limited to just one item, like a rear setback, but not a rear and side yard setback. Council members will ultimately decide whether to add an administrative variance procedure.
Service superintendent Dennis Rose said the building for the wastewater treatment plant is up and work on the plant is going well. The village will also experiment this winter with salt brine. To treat the streets with salt typically takes about 25 tons at a cost of $1,275, Rose said. A brine treatment will take about 1,500 gallons at a cost of $135. The village is installing a small tank for the test and buying the brine from the City of Lancaster. An added benefit is the ability to apply the brine up to three days before an expected storm. That means the brine can be applied during regular work hours, while salt is often applied during the evening hours at overtime rates. Baltimore used about 200 tons of salt last winter.
Council members also unanimously agreed to cancel their December 24 meeting. That leaves two regular meetings yet this year. Council's next meeting is set for 8 p.m. on Monday, November 26 in the Village Hall.