Buckeye Lake Village antes up for demolition
BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Village Council is ready to get the wreaking ball swinging.
During a special meeting Saturday, council approved appropriating $50,000 to front the money needed to demolish up to ten derelict houses as part of the Move Ohio Forward Grant program. On its own, Buckeye Lake will need to determine the costs for demolition and associated expenses such as asbestos inspections and possible abatement and title searches; and then pay it up front. The grant program would then reimburse the $50,000.
Director of Development Mike Cassidy said he believed it would take roughly 30 days to receive reimbursement.
“This is a very worthwhile project,” said Mayor Rick Baker, who added that in his opinion, the village may spend more than $50,000 on demolitions because City of Newark officials – who are administering the federal grant – have hinted to him that Buckeye Lake may have access to more de- molition money. At this point, the village would have to pay a match to get any more grant money beyond the original $50,000. “I don’t know if we can do that,” he said.
Cassidy said the village may have more access to demolition grant money because other local communities aren’t taking advantage of the program, including Hebron.
Wednesday, Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason said that while there are a few abandoned properties Hebron Village would like to demolish, this round of funding, as opposed to previous rounds that Licking County administered, has many more restrictions, including providing money up front prior to reimbursement and the village must do all the legwork on its own, as far as inspecting the properties, securing permission from the owners to tear them down, and hiring contractors to do the work. He said at this point in time, pursuing the grant money and doing all the related work is not in Hebron’s best interest. In the past, the county took care of most of that work, however; this time the City of Newark is administrating the program and is operating it quite differently.
Saturday, Buckeye Lake Village Council member Clay Carroll asked how much each house costs to demolish.
“Our goal is at least 20 (in total) to come down,” said Baker. “My guess is five, six, seven thousand a house, hopefully we can get by with five.” He hopes to get rid of 10 houses through this grant. Baker said he heard that the state may make additional money for demolition projects more like a grant (non-matching) for communities lacking resources. “That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “I’m optimistic that I can get some more money, but it’s going to take some doing. The sooner we get this moving the more likelihood that we’re going to get more money – that’s my perception.”
Wednesday, Baker said the village “has lots of hoops to go through” before it can begin physically demolishing houses. “Each property has its own set of hurdles,” he said.
In other village news:
• Baker said the village is actively discussing salary increases for water and street department employees. “They deserve some increases, they do a lot of work,” Baker said.
Saturday, council members were clear that village employees were disgruntled over unreasonably low pay. Council President Charlene Hayden said a water department worker quit in a huff and just walked away from the job because he didn’t receive a raise he was expecting.
“Our staff is very dissatisfied,” she said. She said they were “dissatisfied” to the extent that Street Supervisor Mark Dymek said he was willing to fill the now empty water department worker position if he could make $15 per hour, which is two more dollars an hour than what he currently makes as su- pervisor. The position is advertised at $10 per hour.
“There was a meeting about giving a pay raise across the board. When I brought it, I couldn’t even get a second to my motion. I have tried,” said council member Kaye Hartman, who then mentioned previous legislation to create a full-time water supervisor position, which Baker intended for then Water Tech Toby Miller to fill. “It was the pleasure of you and the mayor to run that legislation through that night,” Hartman said, adding that she knew it would take more time to discuss all village employees’ pay rates, including the water supervisor’s position, which was to begin at $45,000 per year. Currently, that position will stay part-time through the rest of the year at $15 per hour.
“This has been going on since January, It went on for months, and months, and months,” said Baker, who was eager to set the water supervisor’s position in place.
“The legislation was for everyone, not just the water department,” said Hartman.
“I’ll have to admit that I backed off at one time,” said Baker, referring to looking at everybody’s salary increase. “We were having so much controversy over (Miller), I thought, ‘Let’s get this one behind us and then go on from there.’ We probably should’ve done everyone at once, but seeing all the problems (Miller’s) position was causing, I thought it was best at that point to take one position at a time.”
Fiscal Officer Vince Popo said Dymek’s dissatisfaction with his job as street supervisor is more than with the pay. Popo said Dymek has high standards for the work he wants to see done on things like paving and culverts, and projects aren’t meeting his quality expectations. “So, with Mark, it’s more than just a dollar thing,” said Popo, adding that Dymek would be satisfied with the water worker’s position at $15 an hour, because he’s in the trenches doing the work and making the decisions. “That would give you time to find another street supervisor,” Popo.
Hayden said employees have told her that there should be more sharing of duties, but some council members are concerned that employees couldn’t do so because personnel are paid through specific department accounts and village rules dictate that an employee can’t be paid through multiple accounts.
Hartman disagreed. “It’s not so much the charter, but the money,” she said. Hartman said it may be more appropriate to have a single position to supervise both the water and street departments, which is mentioned in the village charter. “That’s almost where we need to be right now. It’s already there, it’s already in the charter,” she said.
Popo said he believes employees can be paid from the departments for which they are working, even if it’s multiple departments. “You just have to verify that’s who they’re working for,” he said.
Hayden said Dymek definitely deserves a pay increase. “If we can find the money, we need to give him a raise,” she said.
“Part of his salary can come from water, part of it can come from streets,” said Hartman. “If you read the charter it covers all the things needed. I think it’s a no-brainer, the charter already has it laid out for us.”
Council member Arletta Ruton suggested that Hayden and Baker sit down with the employees and get their ideas, bring them to council and see what can be worked out.
“Tell them, this is what the village can do for you,” said Hartman.“We’d like to pay everyone more money, but we only have so many eggs in the basket.”
Hayden said council members should be willing to have another special meeting to discuss the situation. “I’m not into wheel spinning, and that’s what I feel like we’ve been doing-wheel spinning,” she said.
Wednesday, Baker said he was already speaking to village employees about raises and he was fairly certain Dymek would remain with the street department.