The CHIP program is designed to assist low and moderate income residents with means to make home repairs. The County CHIP program is offering:
-Home repair assistance: Funds are available to assist homeowners residing in London and in the County, outside of the city of London, to repair one or two major deficiencies to their owner-occupied single-family homes. CHIP home repair assistance is a grant.
-Private Owner Rehabilitation: Funds are available to help homeowners residing in London and in the County to bring their homes up to code. CHIP Home Rehabilitation assistance is deferred, 100% forgivable five-year loan.
Interested households should contact Emma Hall, Case worker, Madison County CHIP office to obtain additional information. The CHIP program telephone number is 937-728-8978
Mount Sterling launched its online checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com which was announced at the village’s regular council meeting Monday evening.
Amanda Merritt, press secretary, and Lauren Bowen, senior public affairs liaison, both of Treasurer of Ohio Josh Mandel’s office, were on hand to present council with the benefits afforded to the community in joining the program.
OhioCheckbook.com is the state website — the first of its kind in Ohio history — that puts all state (and participating municipalities and smaller bodies) expenditure information on the internet for public inspection.
The program provides “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, allowing users to sort by key word, department, category, or vendor, according to Merritt. It also allows users to compare spending year-to-year or among agencies, and has the capability for sharing of charts and other info with social media networks, and allows for direct contact for agency fiscal officers.
It is hoped, that the OhioCheckbook program (with the oversight of the new administration and council) will prevent the type of occurrences such as the theft and racketeering scandal of former village administrator, Joe Johnson.
“The Village of Mt. Sterling is committed to rebuilding communication, trust, and transparency with our residents,” said Rebecca Burns, Village Council President. “We are proud to partner with the Ohio Treasurer’s office to make it easier for the community to access and understand our village expenditure information. Launching OhioCheckbook.com is just one example of the efforts we are making to move the village forward on a positive path.”
Mount Sterling is the fourth city or village in Madison County to post their expenditures on the website.
The village’s personal checkbook currently includes over 5,400 individual transactions representing more than $12 million spent over the past five years.
In other matters, utilities clerk, Misty Vance, said that the village was closing the gap on money owed the village from delinquent utilities. “Our delinquencies are just a little under five thousand, so it’s come a long way,” she said. The original amount outstanding was around $19,000, she said.
She and the mayor, Billy Martin, are slowly matching parcel numbers from the county auditor’s website against individual bills to determine if residents are being charged correctly for their water usage, Vance said.
Vance mentioned that the village was trying to make it possible for residents to pay their utilities bill online. Users of this option will likely incur a small fee for that convenience.
The village “check reader” was working again after a brief period of malfunction, according to Martin.
Vance said that there are only about four meters left that still need replacing.
Council member Dave Timmons commended Vance on her helpful personality and willingness to work with people after receiving several favorable reports about the clerk from village residents. “That is my job,” Vance said.
Fiscal Officer Courtney Bricker assured council that repairs to some of the many potholes pitting the village streets will be forthcoming once the weather breaks. Bricker also said that a project to replace some damaged drainage tiles that created a four-foot sink hole at the sewage plant was underway.
Regarding holes at the sewer plant, Class I sewer and water plant operator David Cline will be leaving one in the way of personnel, as he has announced his resignation. His last day is scheduled for March 9.
Bricker also noted that the village’s five-year financial plan had been approved by council.
A “backing policy” had been adopted by the village EMS department, councilman Lowell Anderson informed those in attendance. The policy now requires two people be present, with one acting as a “spotter,” whenever a squad is backing up — the purpose, obviously, to prevent accidents. Evidently there had been damage done to private property in the past that resulted in unwanted insurance claims against the village, Anderson stated.
The resignation of an unnamed EMS Responder had been accepted at the department, it was reported. According to Anderson, this person was known for not responding to emergency calls.
Also, the village was having to write-off some expenses incurred from squad transport of victims from accidents that happen along the I-71 corridor and who are residents of other states. Receiving pay for services rendered is virtually impossible in some of these cases, Anderson said.
Sheriff deputy, Jack Dill, has handed out 24 notices so far on the issue of “cleaning up” the village. Most residents receiving notices were already complying or trying to do so. Dill said that he (and the village administration) were willing to work with residents on the matter, preferring to use a “fair but firm” approach. All of council and administration present appeared pleased with the effort that these residents were already showing in trying to improve their properties.
Changing hats from one of enforcement to one of fun, Dill then spoke about upcoming recreational and fun events in the community.
He teasingly spoke about a float that would appear in the parade come the village’s “Community Days Festival” on June 30. Dill would not reveal the theme of the float, saying only that everyone would be surprised and pleased.
Dill also spoke about an as of yet unscheduled family night that will be happening in the not too distant future.
The idea is a community version of the game show “Family Feud.” Lock-out buzzers were already being engineered for the game, he said.
The idea created quite a “buzz” with council.
Village of Mount Sterling joins OhioCheckbook.com. Front row from left are: Council member Tom Ward, Council member Becky Martin, Council member Tammy Vansickle, Council President Rebecca Burns, and Ohio Treasurer’s Office Senior Public Affairs Liaison Lauren Bowen; second row: Mount Sterling Fiscal Officer Courtney Bricker, Council member David Timmons, Mayor Billy Martin, and Council member Lowell Anderson.
Mt. Sterling water issues continue
By Andrew Garrett - firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no shortage of water issues for the village of Mount Sterling.
The ongoing struggle to work out proper payment methods and how to recoup funds from delinquent accounts was a focal point at the regular village council meeting Monday evening.
Council is contemplating a new billing system. The current one leaves much to be desired, according mayor Bill Martin and village financial officer Courtney Bricker.
A major concern is proper delivery of the monthly water usage statements. The perforated stock now in use was deemed as “unacceptable” by the postmaster, Bricker said. The bills have the bad habit of separating and inserting themselves into other mail such as newspapers or magazines in Columbus. Some bills have traveled as far as Baltimore, Ohio.
Obviously, this creates a delay in receiving payments for the village — payments (or lack thereof) being an issue that utilities clerk, Misty Vance, and the mayor are slowly making progress in correcting after years of neglect from the prior administration.
Martin and Bricker are hoping that switching to a different grade of paper will fix the mailing problem before considering the commitment and price of an entirely new system.
The village is also still in need of new water meters.
“We need radio read meters bad,” said Martin. From the 172 originally needing replaced in January, the number has dropped to 88. Radio read meters will not only be more accurate, but more efficient to work with.
Bricker also informed council that Environmental Engineering Services (EES) wished to conduct a technical evaluation of the village water and sewer plant operations. EES would be the company used to oversee the daily operations of those if it were to win the bids for contract.
Potholes are also an issue in the village.
Many of the streets are in horrible shape, according to the mayor. Heated asphalt millings or grindings may be a necessary quick fix, but he hopes to use hot patch once the weather and temperatures are no longer inclement. ODOT has already addressed areas on State Routes 56 and 62, as well as by the railroad crossing.
Some locals were having problems receiving refunds from the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA). RITA is authorized to collect taxes from residents only from within Mount Sterling’s corporation limits — not those outside the limits that just share a Mount Sterling postal address. Even renters are responsible for paying the RITA tax (some have claimed ignorance of this). Anyone who has been charged RITA tax, but who lives outside of the village limits, may contact Bricker for the appropriate RITA contact number, she said.
Tom Ward announced that the first meeting for the block watch program would be held in the Town Hall Building on March 22 at 7 p.m. So far, there are 19 individuals signed up to participate.
Council also adopted Ordinance No. 2018-17, the nuisance ordinance that has been talked about the last two meetings. It partially reads as follows:
No person shall allow the storage, collection, parking, leaving, depositing, maintaining, reserving, putting aside for future use, permitting, or allowing to remain on any porch, balcony, roof, patio or yard, other than in completely enclosed building or structure certain materials including but not limited to junk, rubbish, clutter, litter, debris, lumber and other building materials, and further upholstered furniture, mattresses, materials and other similar products not normally intended, designed, built or manufactured for outside use on any residence or business within Village.
Neatly stacked firewood or lawn furniture are not included as prohibited items.
The penalty for a first offense is:
A fine not less than the expense of the removal of the nuisance nor more than $150 in addition to the expense of remedying the nuisance. Each day that the violation is permitted to exist after receiving notice in writing from the Code Enforcement Officer shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Further, any violation of this ordinance results in the issuance of a minor misdemeanor citation, carrying a $150 fine.
“This ordinance is only as good as it is enforced,” said councilman Lowell Anderson.
Other resolutions adopted were:
• A resolution authorizing Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer, to create a new capital improvement fund and declaring an emergency (after the audit, the state requires $300,000 of already collected tax revenue to be moved to the appropriately designated fund — which will cause a temporary deficit in the General Fund, but which will be back in the black by the end of 2019);
• A resolution authorizing Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer, to pay the Madison-Plains School District pursuant to the enterprise agreement and declaring an emergency; and
• The aforementioned plan for EES to test the water/sewer plant.
The mayor also announced that two car lots were in contract with the village. One is set to inhabit the parking lot next to the United Church on North High Street, the other will be located at the old freeway substation on the corner of Houston and London Streets.
Finally, the mayor hinted at some very good news for the village, but didn’t go into much detail as things weren’t finalized as of yet.
“Looks like we are finally going to get a grocery store,” Martin said. “Keep praying.”
What the mayor was willing to share was that operation would be in the old IGA spot. A produce/goods buyer and manager have already been tapped, he said.
“It’s all local people who have done well in life and want to give back,” he said.
Next Council Meeting - Monday, October 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm In the Village Council Chambers
2017 Water Report
October 2018 - The North Central
Ohio Solid Waste District in partner-
ship with the Pleasant Township
Trustees and United Church will
begin a monthly drop-off recycling collection on October 22, 2018 at the vacant lot on the corner of High and Columbus Streets in Mt. Sterling. The collection will be held on the 4th Monday of every month from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Residents can recycle paper, newspapers, magazines, paperboard, cardboard, aluminum cans, steel food cans, glass food bottles/jars and number 1 & 2 plastic bottle/jugs (examples: laundry, shampoo, milk, beverage).
This is not a collection site for household hazardous waste, electronics, tires or other solid waste. Anyone caught leaving items at the site during non collection hours may be prosecuted for illegal dumping.
Please note that the mobile collection will be cancelled when there is a level 1 weather emergency in Madison County.
Residents in Mount Sterling could see a dramatic increase in their water and sewer bills due to legislation now under consideration by village council.
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to raise funds to pay back the crippling debt the village incurred as a result of enhancements to the wastewater plant and construction of a new water plant.
“We have to pay $250,000 every six months because of the debt previous administrations incurred as a result of these two projects,” said Mayor Billy Martin. “When we make this payment in December, we will be broke. (The fee increase) is our only option.”
The village owes $3.78 million for the work at the wastewater plant and $9.5 million for construction of the new water plant.
“I can’t believe past administrations burdened this small community with this debt. We never needed all of these things,” Martin said. “The water plant produces three times what we need and alone costs $10,000 a month for electricity. I call this stupidity.”
The water plant produces 900,000 gallons of water a month; the village uses approximately 200,000 gallons a month.
Despite comments that the projects should have been scaled back, the Ohio State Auditor says the village has to pay back the loans.
The proposed legislation calls for raising the monthly debt fee for water and sewer by between $49.40 and $50.85 for residential properties. For commercial businesses, the rate would increase by $50.25. The volume rate paid by industrial businesses would go up by $5.95.
Currently, residents pay a monthly debt fee of between $20.40 and $21.85, commercial businesses pay $21.25, and industrial businesses pay a volume rate of $8.35.
“For residents, if you have a $30 water/sewer bill it will now be $80, or if you have a $100 water/sewer bill it will be $150,” said Becky Martin, council member. “Everyone’s bills won’t double. It is just the debt fee that is increasing.”
She said the rate hike is not an easy decision for council members, and they will be directly impacted, as well.
“I’m a village resident, too, and a business owner, so my bill is going to go up in two places,” Martin said. “We don’t take this decision lightly and know the impact this will have on residents. We know people live on fixed incomes, but this is our only option. We are doing the bare minimum to just pay our debt and ensure we have money to cover improvements and repairs.”
Martin said council would revisit the increase in the future if the village’s finances improve.
“No one is here trying to get rich. We are here because we love this community and don’t want it to fold,” she said.
Not all council members support the proposal. Some argued the village could take money from its capital improvement fund to cover some of the costs until further research is done.
“This has been agonizing me for a while, and I’m wondering why some of the loan debt can’t be paid out of the capital improvement fund, so we don’t have to pass as much of this onto the residents and businesses,” said Rebecca Burns, council member. “We would have to get approval from the state to change our five-year plan, but basically the RITA (regional income tax) money could go towards this.”
Other council members rebutted, saying the use of capital improvement funds would provide only a temporary fix, that the village would be short on finances again in a few months. They also said if they spend the capital improvement funds, the village won’t have money to repair roads and make other upgrades. Currently, the village has $230,000 in its capital improvements fund.
“We have looked into this. The auditor said we need to increase the water/sewer bills and that this won’t fix the overall problem,” Mayor Martin. “I get no pleasure in doing this and have made hundreds of phone calls to the auditor and attorney general. This is what needs to be done and is the minimum rate increase to pay our debt.”
The council voted 3-3 on the first reading of the fee increase legislation. Those voting in favor of the proposed increases were Lowell Anderson, Becky Martin and David Timmons. Council members Rebecca Burns, Tammy VanSickle, and Tom Ward. Mayor Martin broke the tie with a “yes” vote to move the legislation forward for a second reading at council’s next meeting on Oct. 8.
If the legislation ends up passing, the increases will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.