HEBRON – Council member Tom Marietta was thanked for his service and dedication to the village at village council’s last meeting of the year Wednesday night.
He came in last in a six candidate field for four open council seats in November. Former Mayor Clifford Mason led the field and will replace Marietta on council. Incumbents Scott Walters, Jim Friend and Annelle Porter were reelected.
Friend told Marietta, “Your service has made a difference.” Porter said, “I’m sorry to see him leave.” Mayor Mike McFarland added, “Sincere thank you to Tom Marietta.”
During department head reports, Police Chief Larry Brooks reported that the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training recently held at the municipal complex was a success. The nationally used course trains civilians how to respond to an active shooter situation.
Brooks said officers participated in the Cram a Cruiser food drive last Saturday at the Kroger store. Officers collected 876 pounds of food and $661 in donations for the Licking County Food Pantry. “It was a very good event for us,” Brooks said.
Brooks said while compliments about an officer are not unusual, written compliments aren’t common. He recently received a letter complimenting Officer Keith Loughry for noticing a five-year old boy’s interest in the cruiser at the Duke station. The boy’s mother said her son was thrilled when Loughry offered to show him the cruiser and let him turn on the flashing lights. She thanked him for making such a positive impression on her son.
Council members quickly moved through a legislative agenda of three resolutions and one ordinance. Each one was being heard for the first time, but council members unanimously suspended the three reading rule and adopted them.
The first resolution will send an additional $10,000 to ODOT to acquire more temporary right of way for the North High Street sidewalk project. Council had approved $40,000 for right-of-way acquisition in September. If anything is left over, it will be applied toward the village’s 20 percent share of the project’s cost.
The second resolution approved paying 100 percent of the cost of health insurance for village employees in 2018. The move is intended to help employees cope with a significant increase in their contribution for health insurance starting in 2019.
The final resolution places a delinquent property maintenance bill on the property owner’s real estate taxes. Village Administrator Ralph Wise said everyone else cited this year either fixed the issue or paid the village’s bill for having the work done.
The sole ordinance combines the usual three annual engineering ordinances into one. It renews the village’s now single contract with Bird + Bull to provide engineering services for water and wastewater, site development reviews and stormwater issues.
Council members also unanimously approved a motion for a scope of services from ADR & Associates of Newark for the Enterprise Drive repaving project. Part of the project is the full-depth replacement of 500 to 700 feet of Enterprise Drive just east of Ohio 79. Engineering and design would be $47,300 with an additional $8,000 if the village wants their inspection services.
The joint project with Union Township, which completes the loop through the industrial park by repaving the township’s O’Neill Drive, will cost an estimated $780,000. Hebron and the township are funding it with a Ohio Public Works Commission grant of $350,000 and an up to $390,000 grant from Jobs Ohio.
Village Solicitor Wes Untied outlined the process for the village to conform its boundaries or withdraw from Union Township. Council member Wayne Carruthers brought up the possibility in a recent combined committees meeting. Hebron property owners are currently paying two of the township’s three fire levies. Carruthers believes property owners could save some $100 to $200 a year depending on the value of their home if the village leaves the township. Council member Jim Friend pointed out that the township turns over all the fire levy income generated in Hebron to the Hebron Fire Department. He said leaving the township would reduce funding for the fire department.
McFarland said, “The discussion is for next year.” He later added that, “It deserves a lot of due diligence.” He will list it as a major concern for 2018 in his State of the Village report early next year.
Untied said conforming only requires a majority vote of council to present a petition to the board of county commissioners requesting that they conform the village’s boundaries. While the commissioners must approve a petition from a city, they don’t have to if it’s from a village. Untied said, “The devil is in the details is appropriate here.” He suggested discussing the impact with the county auditor if there is enough interest in leaving the township.
McFarland appointed Brandon Daubenmire to fill a vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Board. Council members unanimously approved the appointment.
McFarland told council members it’s time to consider employee raises next month. He would like to offer three percent raises across the board at the discretion of department heads. A department head could offer less. Several council members want to see the final cost of health insurance for 2017 before discussing raises.
Council members set their annual organizational meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10. It will be followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m.