By Lynne Phillips
Pay increases for the top four in New London Police Department were approved following a closed door meeting of village council during Monday night’s regular meeting.
The pay increases average 6.4 percent according to mayor John Martin. Police Chief Mike Marko, Lt. Joe Hicks and Sgt. Seth Miracle will each receive an increase of $1.50 per hour and investigator Lance Capiot $1 per hour.
Martin noted there have been no pay increases in the department since 2015.
As part of his administrator's report Shawn Pickworth told council members the village has gone as far as they can on the engineering portion of the Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project.
“We are the point where we have to do some financing on the project,” he said.
Water/Wastewater Superintendent John Chapin said, “We have a good chance for a big grant for the project. In order to get the grant we have to complete the engineering. In order to complete the engineering we have to pay for it.
“The village has several options,” he stated. “We would like to duplicate what we did on the sewer project. That is to borrow the engineering money from the Ohio Water Development Authority. It is an engineering loan. Once we get that loan we can move forward with the engineering and get it to Rural development.” He added, “We have met with rural development and it is possible we can get a loan from them. Then we (the village) would use money from that to pay off the first loan just like we did with the sewer project.
“I believe everyone is aware of what we need to do down at the wastewater treatment plant. This is a needed project and this is our best option to minimize our cost. We are hoping for a 75 percent grant on this project and it isn’t going to get any better than that. Rural development is receptive to early payoffs, and deductions in interest if the interest rate drops. It is a good project and we need to move forward with it.”
The engineer’s estimate for the project, according to Chapin, is approximately $3,000,000.
Council member Stuart Cooke questioned funds saved by the sewer department for the last several years and if those funds could be used for the current project. Chapin said that money was used for the sewer project that was completed. “It was used for loan payback,” he stated adding, “We do have some money and we are in pretty good shape with the wastewater budget, but it will require an increase in rates.” He added, “There is no way around that and it will depend on how much grant money we get.”
Cooke asked if the village went ahead and got the engineering done, but isn’t approved for grant funding can the village put it (the project) on hold till money is available?
Chapin said, “It is something we could do, but the project is not going to change.” He and Pickworth reiterated, “Sooner or later we are going to have to do the project.”
Cooke asked if there was a mandate from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency forcing the village to do the project at this time?”
Chapin noted OEPA wasn’t forcing the issue at this time, but the village is having equipment issues. There is equipment that needs to be replaced, he explained, “It is beyond its useful life.”
Cooke noted the village could have the engineering completed and make a decision on the project after the grant has been applied for and knows whether or not they are approved for a grant.
Engineering fees for the project are expected to total $83,000 to get started, according to Chapin.
Council members approved legislation to allow Pickworth to apply for, accept and enter into a cooperative agreement for the planning or construction of the sewer plant improvement project between the village and the Ohio Water Development Authority by emergency.
Additionally, Pickworth said crews did a good job of cleaning up after the first snow of the season.
Residents are reminded to keep vehicles off of the streets during snow events and to drive safely.
Zoning inspector Bob James reported Huron County’s health department was reviewing the Wildcat Diner because it has been sold. “Their concern is there is no space behind the building for the dumpster that needs to have a pad.” He said after checking the auditor’s website he found property that has long been considered private is actually owned by the village. Currently the dumpster is located on village property. James said he spoke with the previous owner, the mayor and administrator regarding the matter and turned the matter over to village solicitor for his opinion.
Bond said, “The simplest solution would be to grant them a license to continue the encumbrance on the village property.” There was no formal action taken.
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Thomas reported on the upcoming Super Raffle sponsored by local non-profit organizations, Friends of the New London Parks, New London Rotary Club and the New London American Legion Broome-Wood Post 292. The raffle is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Hileman Building in Recreation Park. Doors open at 5 p.m. and raffle begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at Gilbert Hardware, Gas Depot and the New London Record.
Thomas requested approval to hire a campground manager.
Thomas said he had received more than 20 applications for the position, six were chosen for interviews. He noted two of the six had already taken positions elsewhere and four were interviewed by Pickworth and himself.
The position is for April through mid November plus one to two days a week the remainder of the year.
Council member Bill Curtis requested copies of applicants for the position.
Agenda items were approved as follows;
- Permission for Friends of Veterans to sell beer at the Super Raffle.
- A ordinance amending the policy relating to use of credit cards.
- Ordinance relating to temporary appropriations.
New London Council meets regularly on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in chambers located on James Street in the village. The next meeting is Jan. 28.