GREENVILLE – Greenville City Council met in special Thursday evening to once again discuss the proposed sidewalk repair/replacement project. After discussing the issue for over an hour, the city’s administration didn’t receive any clear direction.
Councilperson Dori Howdieshell started the questions by asking, “Why are we continually talking about this?” She pointed to the ordinance and added, “This is a waste of time, let’s just enforce it.”
Council President John Burkett asked the administration, “Why haven’t you contacted people to let them know their sidewalks need to be replaced or repaired?” Burkett also dropped what he may have thought was a bombshell when he showed the original city ordinance approved by council in 2001 authorizing the repair and replacement of sidewalks was repealed a few months later. However, Safety Service Director Curt Garrison explained the city didn’t need that ordinance because the Ohio Revised Code gives the city authority and direction to require the repairs and a road map to assessing the property owners.
Burkett continued to question why the city needed council to approve a Resolution of Necessity at this point in the process if you are only going to assess a property owner if they don’t do the work.
Garrison and Mayor Steve Willman tried to explain that council would need to commit to providing the funds if property owners chose not to repair their sidewalks. Willman said, “Do you just want us to do one or two now? That’s all we have the budget for.” The administration also wants to make sure property owners are aware of all the stipulations in regards to the assessment.
City Auditor Roxanne Willman added the city could set aside for $500,000 in CIP funds (Capital Improvement Program) in the 2020 budget to pay for the work. She also said she prefers the assessment be three years, but no more than five years. The auditor further suggested using the prime interest rate at the time of the assessment. If the assessment were to take place today, the rate would be 5.5 percent in addition to the three percent the county auditor charges. She pointed out one community in Darke County charges a 15 percent interest rate in addition to the county’s three percent. Some communities use a high interest rate to discourage residents from using the assessment process.
Councilman Jeff Whitaker was outspoken in his support for the project, “Nothing like this is fun. We’ve got to maintain our infrastructure.” Councilman Clarence Godwin asked the city drop the fee for the permit and waive the requirement for a bond. Garrison explained if a property owner didn’t purchase a bond and did the work themselves or had a contractor do the work and it wasn’t done correctly, the city would go back in and tear it out and have it done correctly. Without the bond, the property owner would be paying for the work twice.
Council still needs to decide if they want to continue with the project, determine when the work must be completed before the city bids out the project, determine the length of assessment and interest rate and determine if the permit fee and bond requirement will be waived.
There was no discussion on whether or not the city would provide aid to low-income property owners.
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