HEBRON – Mayor Mike Mc- Farland administered the oath of office Wednesday night to two new full-time firefighters/paramedics. Both Ryan Crabill and Kenneth Mills had been part-time employees.
In other business Wednesday night, Fire Chief Jack Stickradt asked council members for permission to apply for federal FEMA grant to purchase a dryer for firefighters turn-out gear. The department has had the heavy duty washer needed to wash the gear, but didn’t have a dryer. The gear was hung in the truck bay to dry, sometimes taking several days, Stickradt explained. The heavy duty dryer is expected to cost about $10,000; the grant requires a $500 match from the village. Council members unanimously approved his request.
Stickradt also reported that a November grant application for $15,480 for MARCS radios from the State of Ohio was funded at $3,000. It didn’t require a match and will be used to offset the $120 per year per radio service fee charged by the state. Stickradt said the department has 20 radios. Council members unanimously accepted the grant.
Buckeye Lake Region Corporation Executive Director Mike Fornataro was present to answer questions about Hebron’s $2,000 bill for 2018 dues. Last year Hebron paid $500 for part of the year.
Fornataro said he is the nonprofit organization’s only employee. BLRC replies primarily on volunteers. Council President Annelle Porter asked how the village’s dues were calculated. Fornataro said dues are calculated on the basis of the organization’s wealth measured by the amount of unencumbered funds.
He said Fairfield and Licking counties pay the most at $6,000 each per year. Perry County pays $3,000. He also outlined the dues for Buckeye Lake Village – $500; $392 for Millersport; and $237.50 for Somerset. BLRC’s 2018 budget lists approximately $182,000 in income and about $178,000 in expenses. “Dues are a small portion of the budget,” he said. Most of the income comes from private donations.
He was also asked about how the money is spent. Fornataro said one the group’s key objectives is upgrading the quality of the water flowing into the lake which means upgrading Feeder Creek. Just to apply for a cleanup grant requires a $40,000 water study. Some council members were clearly concerned about the disparity in dues and accepted McFarland’s suggestion that they think about it some more before making a final decision.
In his report, Village Administrator Ralph Wise said Solicitor Wes Untied has arranged a meeting with Pulte Homes to discuss the status of the Lake Forest subdivision. Residents have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of any additional development there for a number of years and Pulte’s failure to turn over the homeowners association board to residents. Council member Wayne Carruthers, who lives in the subdivision, said the Pulte-controlled board continues to raise association fee in part to care for their undeveloped land. The owners of the 80 homes in the subdivision want to take control of the association.
At its January 10 organizational meeting, council members decided to move up their twice-monthly council meetings to 6:30 p.m. from 7:00 p.m. Council meetings will continue to be held on the second and fourth Wednesdays. The combined council committees meeting will continue to be held at 6 p.m. on the Monday between the second and fourth Wednesday. Village Administrator Ralph Wise will continue to facilitate the combined committees meeting.
Council member Annelle Porter was elected Council President. Council member J. Wayne Carruthers will represent council on the Planning and Zoning Board. Mayor Mike McFarland announced that he has combined the Parks/Recreation and Public Works committees, and divided the Safety Committee into Fire and Police committees. His committee appointments are:
• Finance: Porter (chair), Scott Walters and Alana Morris
• Fire/EMS: Clifford Mason (chair), Jim Friend and Morris
• Police: Walters (chair), Carruthers and Porter
• Water/Wastewater: Carruthers (chair), Mason and Walters
• Parks/Recreation/Public Works: Friend (chair), Mason and Carruthers
• Personnel/Annexation/Insurance: Morris (chair), Porter and Friend
Council’s regular meeting followed the organizational meeting. During department head reports, Tax Administrator Mindy Kester said revenue from the village’s income tax was $35,000 higher in 2017 than in 2016.
Fire Chief Jack Stickradt reported that the recent ISO audit of the fire department resulted in a significant improvement in their rating – from 5/9 to 3/3Y. He believes the better rating should reduce fire insurance rates. He also announced that Firefighter Jason Woods has been promoted to Fire Lieutenant. Woods has been on the department for nearly eight years and has completed leadership and supervisory training. McFarland administered the oath of office to Woods. Stickradt also said he was pleased about the creation of a specific Fire Committee.
In his report, Police Chief Larry Brooks said the department participates in lockdown drills at the Hebron Elementary School. Hebron Elementary School participates in lockdown drills with the Hebron Police Department. He also provided an overview of a tragic incident on December 29 that began with a police chase and ended with the death of the subject. Since both Hebron officers and the Licking County Sheriff’s Office were involved, Brooks said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation. Walters commented that he didn’t know that the department does not have dashboard cameras in the cruisers. Brooks said he wasn’t sure that the expense was warranted. Walters asked whether officers wear body cameras. Officers are not equipped with body cameras due to concerns about privacy in homes and during some incidents. Brooks added that the cost of media storage would be a consideration should the department use body cameras. In response to a question, he said the new police garage still needs a few finishing touches such as painting before it can be used.
Lifelong Hebron resident Brandon Daubenmire has agreed to serve on the Planning and Zoning Board. McFarland administered the oath of office, commenting that Daubenmire was a Navy veteran who is currently serving as commander of the Hebron American Legion Post.
Council members unanimously approved a Letter of Intent with the Army Corps of Engineers for a Section 205 flood study. Wise explained that McFarland had contacted the Corps and a representative had toured the village earlier in the day. A federal grant program is available to pay up to $100,000 for a flood study that could build on the Bird + Bull study completed several years ago. The process starts with the letter of intent and does not commit the village to any specific course of action or expense.
Council members asked Mc- Farland to invite Buckeye Lake Region Corporation Executive Director Michael Fornataro to a future council meeting before making a decision on whether to spend $2,000 in 2018 dues to join the organization.
In his report, Wise said Ohio EPA recently released their annual state-wide survey of water and sewer rates. He noted that Hebron has not changed its rates since they were slightly reduced in 2013. In the latest survey, Hebron’s water rates have dropped from “above average” to “below average” among the 435 utilities responding. Hebron’s sewer rates are still “above average” which represents the cost of recovering the village’s multi-million dollar upgrades mandated by Ohio EPA.
Wise thanked Carruthers for encouraging the village to consider available incentives to upgrade lighting. Most of the lighting at the Municipal Complex will be replaced at an estimated cost of $8,500. American Electric Power has preliminary agreed to reimburse the village for about $3,300 of that cost as part of their incentive program to switch to more energy efficient lighting and appliances. The work must be done by April.