The city’s council held a meeting at Smith Field House on August 7th and while several administrative tasks were dispensed with, it was when discussion regarding acceptance of an annual allocation of county funds for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020, the room became animated.
Beginning the debate, New Carlisle News Publisher Dale Grimm shared with the room his belief there is a disparity in distribution versus the population of each city, village and township slated to receive a portion. The example given by Grimm was the city of Springfield accounting for 44% of the county’s population per the 2016 census figures, but they received 48% of the allocation. However, the City of New Carlisle accounts for nearly 5% of the population of Clark County and will receiving less than one percent.
As part of this distribution, Bethel Township equals 13% of the population of the county and is receiving .97% from the county. Several other cities, villages and townships are included in this allocation, and all are receiving less than 1%.
In past meetings, the city council has been told failure to accept the funds means no allocation. However, Grimm stated this is not the case, citing Ohio Revised Code (ORC). City Manager Randy Bridge stated he’s attempted to gain elucidation from county officials and feels he’s been somewhat stymied by them thus has no more insight into the matter than when he began researching it. Council member William Lindsey then spoke up regarding what seems to be a disparity and reminded the room “one of our own”, referring to newly elected Clark County Commissioner Lowell McGlothin, a resident and former council member and mayor of New Carlisle, bears some responsibility for this allocation and should be answerable to the people of the city.
In addition to this division, the council discussed the county’s distribution of funds for the libraries in the city. In the past, the split from the county has been nearly 90% of the monies from the Public Library Fund (PLF) goes towards the Clark County Public Library versus just over 10% for the New Carlisle Public Library. Because of a lack of funding, the New Carlisle library has a reduced staff and limited hours. The proposal before the council was to alter the split so an additional 3% goes towards the New Carlisle Library, equaling roughly $105,000 annually. This would allow the library to expand their current operating hours and to hire three more staff members, while permitting the expansion of their Adult Services and Outreach programs.
Following this discussion, the council agreed to table the passage of the county funds allocation, and approved the PLF distribution, until they could attend the commissioners meeting scheduled for August 23rd for improved understanding of the issue. Bridge also requested Mr. Grimm attend this meeting, to which he agreed.
The next items on the agenda pertained to several annual administrative and financial issues, including approving a 1.2% raise for the city manager, his first raise in compensation since assuming the position in 2015. Several members, including Aaron Leighty and Rick Lowrey, voiced their support of the ordinance, citing the large amount of money Randy Bridge has saved the city over the last two years. The measure was approved by the council 5-2, with the dissenting votes coming from council members Ethan Reynolds and William Lindsey.
When asked the reason for their nay votes, both cited some large expenses in the future, including the painting of the inside of the water tower, something required by the city every five years. Another concern is the impending levy, whereby residents of New Carlisle will no longer be required to pay city taxes if they work in a locale that also requires them to pay taxes, should the measure pass. Also, Lindsey stated the city’s notification of higher costs for county police patrols and the need for a half-percent payroll tax levy ,as well as the city’s fire department’s need for more money in order to refill their coffers, which, according to Reynolds, are nearly empty. Both expressed their displeasure at this tax being placed on the already strained finances of “the working man”, rather than having it be a real estate tax. Finally, Lindsey cited the council’s tabling of the 35% water rate increase. All these factors led them both to believe the city’s money should be managed more tightly in order to prepare for these impending events, therefore voting “no” to the pay raise.
The next item of interest is the addition of street lights in the city to several streets. While the specific locations for these lights weren’t stated in the meeting, part of the proposal allows a portion of the cost of each light to be assessed to the benefited property. This measure was approved by the council.
The first reading of several measures were read into the record, pending eventual passage or denial, including approval of the assessment to the properties receiving street lights to equal 58 cents per front foot, to begin collection in calendar year 2018. The total of these assessments is estimated to be $91,000.00 and the listing of assessed lots and lands, totaling 39 pages, is on file with the Office of the Clerk for those wishing to peruse which owned properties are affected.
Other ordinances receiving a first reading were related to delinquent utility accounts subject to collection, unpaid weed and/or grass cutting fees, and uncollected nuisance abatement fees. If approved, these ordinances will allow for these debts to be added to the real estate taxes of each property.
At this time, Council Member Lindsey motioned for closure of the meeting. The next scheduled council meeting is set for August 21st at 7:00 PM at the Smith Park field house.