UNION CITY — Union City Council members passed a measure to place a 0.25 percent income tax increase on the ballot to fund local police and fire departments, as well as discussing ongoing issues involving repair of the city’s streets and alleys, at their monthly meeting Monday.
The 2018 budget for part-time police staffing has been exhausted, according to Police Chief Mark Ater and Clerk of Council Karen Stubbs. As a result, city administrators have been pulling from the full-time fund in order to cover part-time hours.
“We need help with staffing for fire, police and EMS,” Chief Ater said. “We’ve been doing what we can to get donations and grants, cutting every corner we can to avoid hitting people’s pockets, but our income is going down and our expenses are going up.”
The council approved the measure with a near-unanimous vote, with only councilman Eric Rust dissenting. A date now will be set by the Darke County Board of Elections to determine when the issue will appear on the ballot.
Ater also plans to apply for a $187,000 grant that would help furnish the city’s fire department with new breathing apparatus and said an ordinance allowing golf carts from Union City, Indiana to legally traverse the town’s roadways should be ready for the council’s vote by the time of its August meeting. Council also voted to move forward with the hiring of a new full-time police officer, a new firefighter and a new EMT.
Council voted to put new rules into effect regarding services provided by the city, including water, sewer and trash service. The new rules specify that if the city receives a check for utility services that is not honored by the bank, those services will be shut off at the end of the business day, provided the issue is not resolved. Council also voted to change the city’s health insurance carrier, citing a 17 percent increase in premiums under their former provider. The new plan, according to Stubbs, will result in reduced premiums for most city employees.
Finally, Allen Aukerman, owner of local auto repair shop Aukerman’s Service, Inc., expressed concerns about the alley connecting Orange Street and Sycamore Street, saying the roadway was poorly maintained and could cause damage to residents’ vehicles.
“Go home that way tonight, then bring your car in tomorrow and I’ll fix it for you,” Aukerman told the council.
Councilman John Fields agreed.
“There are some big holes in that. You have to drive really slow,” Fields said. “You can’t go over walking pace without leaving your A-frame behind.”
“We’ll take a look at it,” Mayor Zachary Pruitt said.
Next meeting of the council will take place Aug. 6.