The Kenton City Council met for their 20th regular session on Monday evening at the City Building. The minutes of the previous meeting were approved and there were no citizens requesting time to speak officially on the agenda.
Council moved quickly through communications and petitions, noting a single communication from Mendez Bell Group Incorporated regarding the previously discussed TREX of a liquor license. A new restaurant, slated to be located in the former Roby Company building, is the project for Mendez Bell Group and the TREX was required to obtain a specific liquor license since the available ones in the city's jurisdiction have been spoken for. Council waived their right to a hearing for the D2-2X requested previously, and also voted to waive their right to hearing for the D3 license that the group was additionally requesting. The D3 license would permit the sale of spirits as well as wine, beer, and other prepackaged mixed drinks.
During committee reports, the council heard from:
Finance - the minutes of the finance committee meeting were approved as read. The next meeting will be Monday, October 31, 2016 at 4:30pm. Council member Dave Beazley reported that for the 2017 budget, the funds were currently outbalanced by approximately 1/2 a million dollars. Council President Joel Althauser noted that it is not uncommon to have an unbalanced proposed budget before the fiscal year begins, but that it is something council and the finance committee are aware of and are working to rectify.
BKP - the BKP board met on October 12. Notable discussions included the board's decision to not pay a bill received from Thermo-Tech, due to dissatisfaction with the service provided. The board will also need to discuss buying a new truck within the next two years. The board also received a resignation letter from one of the FTO.
Parks & Recreation - the Parks & Rec board met on October 11. Notable discussions included the 2017 budget for the pool, which showed a proposed increase in line items for the cashiers and lifeguards, as well as a concern being brought up about potential illegal activities at the quarry by campers who are not required to complete an application process before renting a campsite.
Cemetery - the cemetery board will meet next on November 7th at 7:00pm.
Safety - the Safety committee expressed concerns about the state of some of the downtown buildings, which may pose a concern for the safety of citizens. City Law Director Jon Schwemer mentioned that there are laws in place that could help enforce the care of the infrastructure of the buildings that are owned or inhabited, but noted that the cost to the city to raze buildings could be upwards of $100,000 with little potential for being reimbursed.
The council moved on to old business, where they voted to pass two piece of legislation that were on 3rd reading; the pieces dealt with year-end transfers and appropriations and contribution rates for city health insurance premiums, respectively. The third piece of legislation, authorizing the Safety Service Director to advertise for bids for materials, moved to 3rd reading and will be heard again in two weeks.
Under new business, the council moved one piece of legislation regarding fund transfers to 2nd reading. It will be heard again in two weeks.
It was during the comments section of the meeting that the conversation took a heated turn. Initially, Safety Service Director Jim Hites discussed the upcoming move to the former Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative building. The move will include the water department, income tax department, and parks & recreation department. The move will cause the City Building to close at noon on November 4th, and will not reopen until noon on November 7th. There is still not a decision for a name for the newly acquired building.
Other comments were heard from Bud Winzenried, representative for the Hardin County Sheriff's Department, who discussed briefly the Project Lifesaver sponsored by the auxiliary members of the department. The project is used to provide assistance to seniors with Alzheimer's's or children with autism or other cognitive impairments who may become lost or disoriented.
Council then heard a detailed and emotional plea from two property owners about the city's allegedly mishandled attempt at a sewer repair on a potentially vacated alley between the landowner's properties. Deb Temple and Diane Hanson presented council with documents, correspondence, and photographs detailing the project that began in April with a sewer repair and has resulted in aesthetic, gradient, and safety disturbances to the properties for the past several months. The discussion that ensued between council members and the administration became argumentative. Safety Service Director Hites declared that the alley belonged to the city and he could "put grindings on it if they liked", before being corrected by Law Director Schwemer and Council President Althauser about the difference between a city property and a vacated alleyway. The property owners expressed their displeasure with the length of the project, and when Council President Althauser pointed out that the contracted engineer for the city could be of service re-placing survey pins, Hites responded that having the engineer "didn't really mean anything". This resulted in a brief dispute between Althauser and Hites, ending with Hites clarifying that the contracted engineer is not always available for the man hours. After several more minutes of debate, council member Antwilla Davis presented the council with the immediate issue of the safety problems with one of the property owners being unable to mow her lawn due to the cracks and grooves in the dirt and the too-steep gradient of the lawn. Council member Patti Risner added, "We are going to make this right for you. Every property owner values their property...when things happen, we want to make it right." Council assured the property owners that the issue would be given foremost consideration despite setbacks from the administration itself.
Following the property/city debate, during his comments, Mayor Randy Manns brought up the following budgetary consideration: "The city is at a point where we need to decide: do we want to continue to fund a police and fire department?" At the time of this report, WKTN is in the process of obtaining public records to corroborate and further clarify these statements.
The meeting was adjourned without further comments. The next meeting of the Kenton City Council will be held on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 7:00pm in Council Chambers.