BUCKEYE LAKE – It may be time for Buckeye Lake Village to have a yard sale-of sorts.
“Are we selling some of this property?” asked Buckeye Lake Village Council member Donna Thompson during the August 22 village council meeting. Mayor Rick Baker said he was open to selling some of the village’s properties – mainly open lots where uninhabitable homes were demolished – to help pay for code enforcement to clean-up other properties in the village, or to help pay for taxes related to village owned properties.
Baker said August 24 that he originally wanted the village to hold onto the properties it owns as a result of forfeiture in the hope they could be developed with new structures after the existing uninhabitable homes are demolished. “I’ve changed my mind on that,” he said. For most of the 23 homes demolished with funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the owners of the demolished house still own the lot. “Just because we demo the house, doesn’t mean we own the lot,” said Baker.
However, the village owns four of the lots through forfeiture, which would have to be sold at auction. Baker said bidding could begin at roughly $5,000, but he wasn’t sure of an exact figure, nor could he estimate how much money the properties would fetch at auction. “We’re not just going to give them away,” said Baker.
Director of Development Valerie Hans said the village owns a total of 16 properties, but these include the Village Offices, fire department facilities, parks, a fried chicken restaurant, a beverage drive through, the current Buckeye Lake Library building and a parcel across the street from it, among other properties. No decisions regarding sales were made at the meeting.
Hans said the village accepted the four demolition properties through forfeiture because the village wants to clean up these properties, which may not happen if the village doesn’t have control of them. Once the properties are cleared, Hans said it makes sense to put some of them up for auction.
Hans told council members that overall, 78 properties have been recommended for demolition through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. To date, 23 properties were demolished and nine property owners demolished structures at their own expense.
Two properties, 42 6th Avenue and 129 Stewart Avenue, are waiting for demolition grant funds to become available through Licking County. Hans said she expects the structures on these properties to be removed before the end of this year.
In other council news:
• Council member Clay Carroll said the public safety committee met Aug. 15 to discuss Bureau of Workers Compensation and village safety policies. Carroll said he reviewed Buckeye Lake’s policies with BWC representative Tracy Thompson to see if the village could save money on workers compensation premiums. Carroll said he and Tracy Thompson reviewed some important points:
• The village’s experience modification rate (EMR) has risen from .24 to 1.0. The EMR is a method of determining workers compensation premiums. A mathematical formula is used to calculate the rate annually, and premiums can rise or fall depending upon claims experiences. Understanding the EMR can help control workers compensation expenses.
• The village no longer qualifies for group rates on its workers compensation coverage.
• The village has had 21 claims over the last 10 years.
• The village is enrolled for membership on the Licking County Safety Council, which saves the village four percent if monthly lunch meetings are attended.
Carroll said there was some discussion about creating a safety program that village employees can follow to reduce injuries. Also, injured employees should be placed on limited duty with doctor’s approval because the employee maintains income and it would help to improve the village’s EMR rate by reducing the number of lost workdays reported to the BWC.
Carroll said each department head would create weekly safety topics to discuss with their employees. The discussions will include a sign-in sheet, which the department head will file with the village monthly. Other departments will attend whenever the Buckeye Lake Fire Department has special training sessions or guest speakers.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Carroll.
“I hope we can save some money down the line,” said Council President Charlene Hayden.
• Baker said he hopes a Licking County recycling bin would return to the Village Offices soon. He said the village is actively trying to beautify the front of the Village Offices and he wanted the recycling bin that was sitting directly in front of the offices to be moved behind them. He said that for some reason the county removed the bin completely. However, Buckeye Lake Village is on a waiting list to receive another bin.