Buckeye Lake mayor squelches rumors
BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker cleared up some rumors Monday night.
“Many people do a lot to try to promote this village,” he said. “It bothers me when people say negative things to make us look bad.” Baker told council that there are persistent rumors that village officials are conspiring to purchase demolished homes’ properties for their own investments. “That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Nobody up here is going to buy those properties. They go to auction.”
Baker said he believes the rumor may have started when Baker was discussing ways to pave the Carlin Addition’s streets; the Carlin Addition is a privately owned entity whose streets were not repaved following the installation of a public water distribution system. Village owned streets were repaved as part of the installation process, which left Buckeye Lake streets rough and dusty for months.
Baker said the Carlin Addition’s owner, the Buckeye Lake Park Company, has no money to repave the streets. “The banker in me sees an asset,” he said. Baker said he discussed the possibility of the Carlin Addition giving the village some of its land in exchange for paving its streets with Buckeye Lake Park Company President Tom Campbell. Campbell is interested, but a lot of details would have to be worked out.
Baker said he envisions a time when the village could build a public swimming pool, recreation center, or some public structure on the property.
Baker asked if community members could pull together to develop some lots in the village with new rental properties. “It’s an idea,” he said. Baker repeated that people associated with the village government are not going to purchase lots left vacant after structures have been demolished.
In other council news:
• Fiscal Officer Vince Popo presented a detailed report to council. He said the village will move pay dates for hourly employees, who now are paid on the pay period’s last day. “If someone misses work, then the paycheck needs to be re-issued,” he said. “Also, we’re paying for services that have not been performed.” The pay date will be gradually moved through the rest of the year.
Popo said the street department staff needs some attention. “Currently, we’re paying them for 35 hours per week and calling it full-time,” he said. Popo met with the staff and determined there’s enough work to move them to 40 hours per week. Also, he said the finance committee should consider comp time and paying them at the end of the year or paying them time and a half. “We need them when the snow comes and the streets get hard to travel,” said Popo. The street department is also doing work in addition to the streets and, when this happens, the department they are working for should pay them.
Popo said he’s finding mistakes and double payments, such as paying water bills from the police fund, and overpayment of PERS and school and state taxes. “We are slowly correcting them,” he said. Overall, Popo said the village is in strong financial shape and the village should not become overextended by taking on more projects and debt. The state budget will not be balanced and the village will be forced to make up the difference. “You’re a heck of a lot better than you were five years ago,” he told council. “I’ve been impressed.”
“Vince has proven to be a real asset,” said Baker.
• Council President Charlene Hayden said the Valero service station, whose convenience store is now called the Buckeye Food Mart, requested a liquor license for carry out sales. “This is really not a new license. It had been there before,” she said. The former owners held a liquor license, but lost it along with the business. Council members had no objections to the new owners having a liquor license.
Director of Development Valerie Hans the new owners, Sucha “Sonny” and Harbhanjan Kaur, now live in Hebron and have turned around several other local service stations. She said the station would reopen when the owners meet EPA requirements and connect to Buckeye Lake’s water system.
• Hayden said the Trunk or Treat event was very successful. More than 300 trick or treaters visited the Buckeye Lake Youth Association haunted house and 26 businesses and organizations distributed treats to the children.
• Council will not meet Dec. 27, which falls between Christmas and New Year. The village charter allows council to skip one meeting per year.
• Hayden said the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed its role in moving the Main Street project forward; the Main Street project is several committees working together to improve Buckeye Lake’s downtown. Main Street committees may help the planning and zoning commission define the village’s zoning districts. “They’re planning a kick-off for getting started with these committees to coincide with our Community Christmas event Dec. 11,” she said. Each Main Street committee includes a planning commission and council member.
• Hayden said she attended a Millersport Finance Committee meeting where members discussed raising Millersport’s water rates; Millersport supplies water to Buckeye Lake Village. Should Millersport raise its rates, Hayden said it wouldn’t affect Buckeye Lake because according to the water contract, Buckeye Lake has 32 more months before Millersport can raise rates for Buckeye Lake customers.
Millersport may still only increase Buckeye Lake’s rates as much as it raises its own rates following the 32-month period. Committee members reviewed upcoming expenses and anticipated Buckeye Lake revenue. No decisions were made. “The bottom line is Millersport is better off having Buckeye Lake as a water customer than they would be without us, and this was stated during their meeting,” said Hayden. Buckeye Lake customers help spread the cost of the system so fees are lower for all customers. “Buckeye Lake is much further ahead by purchasing water from Millersport, as opposed to upgrading our wells and building a new water treatment plant,” she said. “The more customers we get, the better off both communities will be.”
• Council approved making Dockside Drive one-way eastbound. Council considered also making Grandstaff one-way, but some of the street is privately owned and the owner objected.
• Water Tech Toby Miller said the village water department offers two seasonal programs to residents who live out of town during winter. First, residents may have their water turned off at the tap and only pay the $29 debt service fee the months they are away. Or, they may opt to pay just $15 per month, but that would require a $25 fee to shut off their water completely and another $25 to re-activate the water when they return. Each snowbird resident will need to decide for his or her self which option is the best deal.
Miller said 720 customers are connected to Buckeye Lake’s water system. “The system is stabilizing more each day,” he said. Miller said the system is on track to be financially stable for a long period of time.
• Council members approved the second to last payment to Chemcote – the contractor that repaved the village’s streets – for $299,749.11. Following this payment, the village owes $56,773.69. Council also approved a payment to ME Companies – the engineering firm that designed and inspected the street repaving project – for $18,194.
• The Buckeye Lake Community Celebration Committee is having Turkey Treat Day at the Buckeye Lake Museum Nov. 14, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. It’s the final fundraiser for the committee whose mission is to provide winter clothing for Buckeye Lake area children and provide families in need with a full and happy Christmas. The committee welcomes all winter clothing and cash donations toward the purchase of winter clothing.
• Council member Kaye Hartman said council will limit citizens’ comments to three minutes each and subjects may only be addressed once. “That seems to be a pretty common practice” among communities, she said. Each council member will have a three-minute opportunity to comment at the end of the meeting.