Economic development was City Council's focus during its April 10 meeting.
It passed final readings for three ordinances related to an infrastructure project at the US 30-State Route 598 interchange. In anticipation of a Valero gas station being constructed at the interchange, the city will install utilities and a small section of roadway there. Ord. 2018-13 approved an advance from the General Fund to the Street Fund in the amount of $511,290. This action will be needed because the infrastructure project will begin before the city can issue debt. The debt repayments will be made to the General Fund over a ten-year period. Ord. 2018-14 amended the 2018 appropriations to prepare for the infrastructure project, and Ord. 2018-15 amended the Financial Recovery Plan to reflect the changes made under the previous ordinances.
Three other ordinances were related to the annexation of a 15.395-acre parcel where the former PECO facility is located on State Route 598. Ord. 2018-19 was an agreement to extend municipal services to the annexed land: Police and fire protection; street maintenance; and electric, water and sewer services. Ord. 2018-20 was a required statement that the city will rezone the property to permit uses that are compatible with adjacent land, or if not, the city will require a buffer zone separating the acreage from adjacent lands. Ord. 2018-21 gave consent to the annexation. The annexation petition was filed with the county on March 27. Due to meeting annexation deadlines, council passed all three ordinances as final readings.
Two ordinances pertained to a Job Creation Tax Credit. The first amended Section 191.03 (F) of the city tax code to incorporate this credit, in which the city may “grant a refundable or nonrefundable credit against its tax on income to a taxpayer to foster job creation.” The second ordinance created local guidelines for offering the Job Creation Tax Credit. It will be an available incentive to any business which creates new jobs. Credit is given on the additional income tax. Terms are:
Both ordinances passed as first readings.
Council passed a final reading for Ord. 2018-18, which approved several Freese grant projects to send to the Egbert M. Freese Foundation for funding approval.
Ord. 2018-16 amended the city’s Investment Policy to reflect changes in accordance with Ohio Revised Code, Title 7 Chapter 135. This item passed as a final reading.
After legislation, city officials had an open discussion regarding the future of public health in Galion. Councilman Gail Baldinger, who chairs the Police, Fire and Health Committee, said the Crawford County Health District has offered to contract for services to cover Galion. It has requested a commitment by June 1 due to the accreditation process required of public health agencies. However, he would like to give the city health department a chance to put a plan together to continue operations.
Health Board Member Andee Wildenthaler said the board has reviewed options to keep the city health department budget under $259,000 per year. They are proposing to cut back programming to core services and freeze salaries and benefits. Health Board Member Wendy Kerr added they have also looked at reducing some staff to part time.
Councilman Bill Comerford said the proposals implement expense controls while avoiding a reduction in revenue.
Mayor Tom O’Leary said the projections for employee benefits were unrealistic, but also cautioned council to consider what level of service the county would be able to provide.
Council set a special meeting of the Police, Fire and Health Committee on April 19 at 7 p.m. to continue the discussion.