Garrettsville – A Public Hearing was held prior the regularly scheduled Village Council meeting March 13, to discuss proposed restructuring of the Design Review Board (DRB).   Residents and business owners discussed the opinions and asked questions about the proposed ordinance.  Mayor Patrick assured everyone that if these changes were made the Historic District would not be affected.  Solicitor Stuck added that the existing laws and rules pertaining to zoning would still be in effect.  Mayor Patrick also explained that the DRB as it is now, is only an advisory committee.  The Planning Commission makes the final decisions.  These proposed changes would only streamline a currently cumbersome process.  The proposed new legislation does allow for the re-establishment of the DRB in the future if it is deemed necessary.

After regular session opened, proposed Ordinance 2013-01, which would amend the codified ordinances relating to the composition of the DRB was presented for third reading.  The ordinance passed unanimously.  Council also passed Ordinance 2013-08, which amends the employee handbook (retroactive to January 1, 2012) to reflect the change in the cost-sharing portion for health insurance from 7.5% to 10%.

In other business, Mayor Patrick introduced Amy Bellichino of Dawson Companies the village’s existing insurer for property and liability coverage.  She presented a proposal for the renewal of the village’s liability insurance policy.  Later, Resolution 2013-06, which, if passed, would authorize the village to enter into an agreement for property and liability insurance coverage was read on first reading.  Discussion ensued about holding a special meeting to discuss the proposals that had been received from both the Dawson Company and Mark Russell at the February 13, 2013 meeting.  A decision has to be made before April 1st, when the current policy expires. A tentative date of March 25th was suggested for the special meeting.

Council read and discussed proposed Ordinance 2013-07.  If enacted, it would ratify the solid waste management plan that had been presented previously by Bill Steiner, Director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District.  After a lengthy discussion, the majority vote was to disapprove the ordinance.

Next up for business was the first reading of proposed Ordinance 2013-19.  This resolution would authorize the mayor and the village clerk to enter into an agreement with the Village of Windham to provide dispatching services for the Windham Police Department for three years.  Solicitor Stuck stated she had made some adjustments to the contract and had not yet heard back from the village.  The ordinance will be up for second reading next month.

Councilman Matson brought to Council’s attention that there are some discrepancies in the zoning ordinances as they  pertain to commercial property.  Council President Hadzinsky and Councilman Matson agreed to look into the issue at a later date.  They would then advise council of any changes that may need to be made.

Also discussed was the annual fee for membership in the Drug Task Force.   Council agreed that the monies received from the sale of confiscated property as a member of the task force this past year should be applied to the renewal membership fee.

The discussion from last month’s meeting about simplifying the way the village’s codified ordinances are displayed on the village’s website was revisited.  The Walter Drane Company provides a service that would allow indexing and easier search functions in accessing the village’s ordinances online.  Councilwoman Harrington stated she had talked to representatives from Middlefield and Burton who use the service provided by this company.  She stated that in addition to the initial set-up and the monthly service fees ($1895 set-up and $30/month for the Village of Garrettsville if they proceed) both communities had to pay fees to update changes to the codes.  She said they reported that the update fees were $5000 for one and $3400 for the other last year.  These additional fees were not shown on the information page given to council.  Mayor Patrick suggested that they still need more information before they can make any decisions, including what it costs for the paper copies of the codified ordinances.  He also said he wanted to talk with Erika Frankel of Hammer Data systems here in Garrettsville.

Council approved the annual expenditure for a contribution toward the Garrettsville Library’s utilities.    Council also approved a request from Betsy Simon, from Friends of the Garrettsville Library, who addressed council with a request to erect a storage shed next to the library (since the land the library is on belongs to the village).  Council instructed Ms. Simon on what needed to be done including the application for a zoning permit.

Village council voted to accept a $500 donation from the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce for Christmas Lighting.  Council also discussed an invoice that was received from the Ohio Public Entity Consortium (OPEC) regarding the escrow account for the village’s health insurance.  Council was unaware they would be receiving this invoice and decided to contact Brian Savage, the rep for OPEC, and ask him to clarify.

Local business owner Mike Maschek addressed council about a clarification on the agreement made when he purchased the old Buckeye Block building from the village.  The original agreement included a clause that the building could not be sold for ten years.  Maschek stated that he has had an offer from an interested party to purchase and renovate the old stage area on the second floor of the building.  The proposed plan would restore this historic venue, which then could be used as a theater.  Maschek wanted to know if council would consider agreeing to the sale.

During round table discussion, Councilman Klamer asked about upcoming crack seal plans for the village’s roads and suggested they should plan ahead because of the late summer scheduled repaving of SR 82 by ODOT.  Councilman Klamer also suggested the village consider creating a 3 to 5 year plan on paving and chip seal for the village’s roads.  Klamer asked council for permission to send out a third and final letter to residents who have not yet responded to prior letters regarding sidewalk work.  It was determined that necessary work would be done regardless of the property owners’ co-operation and any unrecovered costs would be attached to their property taxes.

Linda Hartman (substituting for village clerk Nancy Baldwin) brought up the topic of the upcoming deadline for residents to file their income taxes.  Discussion ensued about the need for additional help, however according to current legislation, only the village clerk and the income tax administrator are authorized to handle anything to do with income taxes.  Proposed Ordinance 2013-11 was presented to council and passed on an emergency basis.  It allows the mayor to appoint personnel to assist the income tax administrator.

The last topic for the evening was regarding holiday pay and sick leave as outlined in the current employee handbook.  Garrettsville Police Chief Tony Milicia described a recent issue in his department and how it affected an employee’s benefits.  Because of the way a paid holiday fell, the employee, who was out on sick leave, ‘lost’ a paid holiday.  A lengthy discussion ensued.  Milicia asked council to consider changing the 10 paid holidays to 10 paid personal days in an effort to prevent the problem from happening again.   Council asked Solicitor Stuck to look into changes that may need to be made to the employee handbook, and council will re-address this topic at next month’s council meeting.

If you’d like to know more of what is happening in your community, please attend a meeting.  The next regular Village Council meeting will be held on April 10th at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.


CORRECTION:  In last month’s Villager council report there was an error in the reported amount raised for the People Tree from the Fill-A-Cruiser campaign.  The correct amount was just over $1,100.