2015, johnstown, johnstownindependent, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Johnstown to seek loan for Oregon/Williams storm sewer repair

Monday September 21, 2015 11:53 AM

At the regular Johnstown Village Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, council members voted to ask the Ohio Public Works Commission for a $135,000 loan for capital improvements to the Oregon/Williams storm sewer.
The storm sewer collapsed in May and Johnstown Service Director Jack Liggett said repairs must be done immediately.
Village officials tried to keep the loan repayments low and made the loan term as long as possible.
The loan interest rate will be 0 percent over 30 years and payments will come from the capital improvement fund.
Furthermore, village officials announced plans to close U.S. Route 62 near Westview Drive and Bigelow Drive at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 in order to erect the pedestrian bridge. They intend to re-open the road by 6 a.m. the next day.
If weather prevents construction crews from erecting the bridge on the intended night, they will push the erection to the next weekday night with a favorable forecast, officials said.
In her report to council, Village Finance Director Dana Steffan said the village might need to think about a future income tax increase to place before voters.
The recent tax credit repeal passed in April was not enough to to sustain the village in the future, Steffan said.
As of now, the village cannot afford to pay employees competitive wages, she said.
Since the beginning of the year, three water/sewer employees and one police officer left the village for higher paying jobs.
Steffan hiring and training costs have hurt the village budget and productivity level.
“Two finance directors before you, we were advised to raise income taxes,” said Carol Van Deest, a councilwoman. “Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room.”
Police Chief Don Corbin answered questions from council members about teenagers loitering outside City Hall in Bigelow Park late at night.
“We can’t make them leave,” Corbin said.
“We get reports of vandalism there, but if we don’t see the destruction occurring, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“We do go out there a lot. In the past two weeks, we have been out there 20 or 30 times.
“I would like to see that park close at 10 p.m. so then we would have a reason to ask the kids to leave,” Corbin said.
The land is not entirely owned by the village, which complicates the issue.
Monroe Township Trustees have control of the building and land adjacent to Bigelow Park, and the Village Council controls the land adjoining the 20 foot strip of land next to the building.
Regarding Concord Road repairs, AEP has yet to remove its poles from the construction site.
Liggett and Village Manager Jim Lenner are working with contractors to discuss alternate plans for the sidewalk.
Lenner stated he does not want to hold up this project anymore.
Also, an amendment was made to the village budget to add $33,000 from the water and sewer reserve fund into the water operations fund.
“I need money to buy chemicals,” Liggett said.
“In fact when this passes, I’m buying chemicals at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning,” he said.
“This was a budget cut from last year that we had to make,” Lenner said.
“Jack asked for this money, but I took it away from him and he was right. He needs it.”
The next regular Village Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at 599 S. Main St.

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