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Council members approve employee wage increases

HEBRON – Village employees will receive up to a three percent raise at the discretion of their supervisor according to an ordinance unanimously approved by village council members Wednesday night.

A second ordinance also unanimously approved Wednesday night will give part-time firefighters/ EMT’s their first increase in years. Effective in June, part-time employees will increase from $11.55 per hour to $15.00 per hour. The department was experiencing increasing difficulty in attracting part-time employees due to competition from other area departments relying on part-time employees.

Council member Clifford Mason moved to direct the village solicitor to draft an ordinance requiring the village “to pick up” (pay) 4.25 percent of the employees’ contribution toward their pension. Mason said full-time fire department employees haven’t received a raise in 10 years. The “pick up” would start in June if the ordinance is approved and continue forward. Mason’s motion was approved by a 4-2 vote with council members Wayne Carruthers and Annelle Porter voting “no.”

Mason also proposed that a committee consisting of the mayor, department heads and some council committee chairs be formed to develop a three-year sustainable pay plan for all departments and employees. Porter said she didn’t like being surprised by motions, but ultimately agreed to support the motion since it would only create a committee to study the issue. It was approved 6-0.

During public comments, Lake Forest resident Paul Clark complained about high grass, mosquitoes and an unsecured pond on subdivision property. “The pond needs to be secured or bulldozed shut,” he said. A fence around the pond has been tramped down for a number of years.

Village Administrator Ralph Wise said the Pulte now owns the subdivision and has committed to mowing unsold lots monthly. “We’ve made more progress in the last six months than in the past six years,” Wise said.

“They (Pulte) have a duty to mow once a month starting in April,” Untied added. He was hopeful that some of the other issues with the stalled subdivi- sion could also be resolved such as the pond. “We had good, active productive discussions with them,” he said. “Then everything stopped in the last 60 days.” Untied said emails and phone calls are no longer being returned.

Clark said the residents were actually funding all the mowing, including the unsold lots, through their homeowner association (HOA) dues. Pulte, he said, still has 100 percent control of HOA due to amount of unsold lots. Residents must pay their dues but have no representation on how their dues are spent. Untied told him that unfortunately the HOA issue is a civil dispute with Pulte and the village has no authority over it. Carruthers, who also lives in Lake Forest, said the problem with the HOA is rooted in state law. He recently wrote letters to the Hebron area’s state representative and state senator, pointing out the problems. He encouraged others to write as well.

Untied suggested Clark and other residents take up the mosquito threat from the unsecured pond with the county health department. It possibly could be considered a public nuisance, he added. Mayor Mike McFarland said he would discuss later with Untied whether the village could go on private property to treat the pond with mosquito insecticide blocks. “Please know we are trying,” he told Clark.

In other business Wednesday night, council members discussed the need to amendment the annual budget with fiscal officer Deb Morgan. She said the fire department budget will have to be increased to cover the increase for part-time employees. If the pension “pick up” is approved, even more money will have to be appropriated for the department.

A desire by the Planning and Zoning Commission to hire a consultant to review the village’s zoning resolution, subdivision regulations and external property maintenance code for compliance with state laws would also require a budget amendment. Mason questioned the need for a consultant to review the zoning resolution or the exterior property maintenance code, but agreed that it’s been some time since the subdivision regulations have been updated. He asked that a Planning and Zoning Commission representative come to the next council meeting to explain their concerns in more detail. The first step would be to send out a request for proposals from appropriate consultants.

An estimated $12,000 project to replace the electrical service connection at Canal Park also would require a budget amendment.

In his report, Wise said administrative assistant Christina Furbee obtained a grant from the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to purchase bicycle helmets for second graders at Hebron Elementary School. Thanks to donations from McFarland and council members, they were able to purchase a helmet for every second grader. Hebron Police will present the helmets and provide bicycle safety instructions in three sessions on Tuesday, May 1.

Wise also announced that utility bills, income taxes and mayor’s court fines will soon be able to be paid on-line. He said for water and sewer bills, a convenience fee of $3.95 will be added to swipe a credit card in the office and a $4.95 convenience fee will be charged for on-line payments. The option will be available next month. A link will be added to the village’s website for this payment option.

In council member comments, Porter said she wanted to see tougher deadlines to comply with the exterior property maintenance code. “We need some teeth,” she explained. She also said the village should explore the possibility of acquiring the former Bowman Chevrolet dealership property on Main Street. The details will be discussed in a future executive (closed) session.

Upcoming events include a Red Cross blood drive in council chambers from 1 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 3; Chipper Day on Tuesday, May 15; and the Village Clean-up Day from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19. Council’s next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9.

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