At its regular meeting on Monday, August 16, Council unanimously voted a request for a federal grant of $ 4 million to build broadband infrastructure in the village.
“It’s a great opportunity. I don’t want to miss it, ”village director Josué Salmerón said during the meeting, held at bay on Zoom due to the state of emergency in the village linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tim Barhorst and Thor Sage spoke in favor of the new public broadband service and the subsidy opportunity, with Barhorst stressing it was necessary to tackle inequality.
The village has started to take steps to set up a new municipal utility to provide internet service to 1,800 homes and businesses in the city. The grant proposal would go to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is part of the US Department of Commerce.
Board member Laura Curliss said she feared moving forward with the grant and the utility without a “viable business plan,” including a survey of existing clients who had access to Internet with coronavirus relief funds. She also submitted a memo raising 13 questions about the utility, including the risks.
“It’s a big elevator. We are starting another business in our utilities department, ”said Curliss.
Salmerón defended the proposal, saying the village has both a business plan and a “critical need” to improve internet accessibility in the city.
Other Board business at its August 16 meeting:
Nod to the board review
The council unanimously approved a resolution to retain the services of a Columbus lawyer to consider a proposal for a citizen review committee to investigate police misconduct. Village attorney Breanne Parcels recommended attorney Larry James, of Crabbe, Brown and James, who she said was involved in a national task force for citizen review boards. Other lawyers recommended to him were overpriced, Parcels said.
In a 3–2 vote, the board added an amendment to the legislation to remove from consideration parts of the proposal that had not been approved by The 365 Project, a local non-profit organization that promotes racial equity. Council members MacQueen and Curliss voted against the deletion, with Curliss defending the section in question for including possible fundraising ideas.
Health care for civil servants?
The council voted 4 to 1 to offer elected officials, including council members and the village mayor, the ability to purchase health insurance through the Yellow Springs Village Health Insurance Provider, provided that this does not increase costs. The measure would only apply to future Council members, not current members, unless they are re-elected. Curliss voted against even though she initially raised the idea, expressing frustration that the process had taken so long and that she was not involved in drafting the legislation.
Financial audit completed
Council briefly discussed a recently completed external financial audit of the Village. Obtained by News from a request for public records, the audit includes two citations of non-compliance and several recommendations. The citations were related to the lack of a public records policy in general village policies and procedures and the inappropriate transfer of kilowatt-hour tax revenues to the general fund, which instead went to the electric fund. The auditor also recommended that the village establish policies for working from home and preparing financial statements and maintain a minimum number of funds.
Also at the meeting, village finance director Matt Dillon shared third quarter financial data, which showed village spending was $ 670,000 lower than the proposed budget, largely due to taxes. land and income taxes higher than expected.
Village objectives discussed
Council members discussed the village’s progress towards its nine 2021 goals: providing an affordable community; support residential development; repair and maintain infrastructure; achieve a structurally balanced budget; promote sustainable growth; ensure social justice; facilitate active transportation; deepen environmental resilience; and maintain the vitality of the village.
Curliss suggested that market-priced, moderate-income housing is more needed than low-income housing, and argued that Council members sponsor all laws rather than the “stamp” laws pushed by those in the know. are not part of the Council.
MacQueen urged active transportation and climate and sustainability planning and more council retreats for “solid political conversations.”
Council member Lisa Kreeger said the village should focus on the basics, such as infrastructure, utilities and efficiency, as well as concerns related to the arts, culture and life. social justice. She also called for more “intentionality” around green spaces.
Council member Kevin Stokes spoke of the need to change the zoning to allow more multi-family units and suggested that the Oberer development could benefit the housing market. He said his other priorities were infrastructure and social justice.
Council member Brian Housh said downtown parking is a priority, while ensuring the village is ready for economic development.
• Council voted unanimously to request a state grant of $ 1.2 million to upgrade the city’s water and water mains.
• During the citizen concerns portion of the meeting, Mitzi Miller suggested that the village invest in improving sidewalks to improve the ability to walk in the village. John Hempfling has raised concerns about village censorship of Zoning Appeal Board member Matt Raska for writing a letter to the News editor arguing for zoning changes.
• Salmerón detailed the village’s responses to COVID-19, including new signage, face masks for downtown businesses and a banner that reads: ‘Wear one: protect each other’. Miami Township firefighters, Yellow Springs police and the village have come together and decided not to reduce occupancy limits at downtown businesses, leaving it to the stores themselves.
• Salmerón indicated that the Village will soon collect and analyze data on encounters between local police and citizens through surveys. After interactions with the public, police will hand out cards with a QR code that will lead them to a survey about their experience. The YSPD also follows the foot patrols and will soon follow the bicycle patrols.
• The Council met in executive session for the purpose of appointing and employing a Village official.
The next regular Council meeting is Tuesday, September 7 at 7 p.m., via Zoom.