MOUNT VERNON — When City Council members met Monday it was not a lengthy meeting, but they did touch on several topics, including brick street repair, Area Development Foundation and the old middle school.
Councilman John Fair, chairman of the Streets and Public Buildings Committee, said city officials are rethinking which brick street to repair. Originally, Oak Street was slated for repair this year. However, due to cost, repairs may be done to McArthur and McKenzie streets instead. Mayor Richard Mavis said Oak Street is to be a complete rebuild, similar to the Chestnut and Curtis street projects.
“When we began to compare costs with Curtis Street, it was clear we couldn’t do [Oak Street],” he said. “the amount of money was going to exceed the amount allowed for brick streets this year.”
City engineer Cameron Keaton said the cost of a rebuild is $480 to $485 a linear foot, compared to $90 for repair of curbs and gutters. The city is therefore looking to repair curbs on McKenzie Street from High Street to Ohio Avenue, both sides, and on McArthur Street, from Chestnut Street to Ohio Avenue. The estimated cost for both projects is $178,200; the amount budgeted for repair this year is $175,000. Keaton said if favorable bids are submitted, it is possible both projects could be done this year.
Councilman Burt Hanson, whose ward includes Oak Street, said he would be remiss if he did not “complain loudly” that Oak Street is not being repaired as planned.
“I am very disappointed because we stated we were going to do Oak Street, and had pushed it off from the year before,” he said.
He said constituents would have been better off if the city had not agreed to begin repairs on Oak Street, rather than having the city switch plans.
Also on the topic of roads, Mavis said the city did not receive stimulus money for widening the Edgewood Road/Ohio 229 intersection. The city will reapply in October for Issue 1 money, but this time will enlarge the project submitted to include street resurfacing. Mavis said the $300,000 to $350,000 budgeted the last few years for resurfacing is not keeping up with roads needing resurfaced. In order to catch up, he said, about $1 million is needed.
Councilwoman Rebecca Jordan said she received a call from John Mertz regarding a tax abatement for the former middle school on North Mulberry Street. She agreed to meet him and John Bechtel, but only Bechtel showed up.
Jordan and Chris Menapace, assistant chief for Mount Vernon Fire Department, toured Bechtel’s Mansfield facility and met with him about two hours. According to Jordan, she told Bechtel he needed to abide by the letter he received from the city regarding making repairs to the building by Aug. 16.
Council President John Booth said future contact with Mertz or Bechtel should be in front of council in council chambers, with the city’s law director present.
Jordan also spoke about the Area Development Foundation, to which the city contributes $20,000 a year. According to its 2007 tax return, revenue was over $500,000; $72,500 was spent on park expansion and $2,075 on prospect development.
“With an unemployment rate of 10 percent in the county, I would certainly hope he’s doing more than $2,000 worth of development,” she said.
She questioned what was meant by park expansion, and also said that for a one-person office, expense numbers on the tax return were rather large. The director of ADF receives $83,000 in salary; salary and benefits combined are over $90,000.
Mavis, who sits on the ADF board, said the county contributes money to ADF, as well as dues-paying members. Investment revenue is also received. The $2,075 on development was a joint marketing project with Coshocton County.
He said ADF director Steve Waers can be invited to a future council meeting to fully explain revenue and expenses, and the work of the foundation.
In other business, council approved fund transfers, appropriations and payment of bills. Councilman Bruce Hawkins reminded council that it would meet Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Sips. Mavis said those who signed up for the city’s aggregate gas program have been paying 4 cents to 7 cents less per cubic foot of gas for the last three months, compared to the price paid by those signed up with Columbia Gas.