MOUNT VERNON — A Taxi Cab Board will be created under legislation given a first reading Monday by City Council.
According to Police Chief Mike Merrilees, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis asked him to look into updating the fees for operation of taxi cabs, and also look toward moving the function of monitoring taxis from the city to the police department.
“The only thing really new [with this legislation] is a Taxi Cab Board would be created,” said Merrilees. “This basically gives people a recourse if they don’t agree with me on a license.”
A $25 license fee will be paid annually for each taxi used for hire. In addition, each driver is required to obtain a $10 license from the police chief. Should a license be revoked or suspended, the driver or taxi company can appeal to the Taxi Cab Board. Board members will be the mayor, city safety-service director and the police chief.
Drivers will also be required to maintain an Ohio driver’s license.
License fees and any fines will go into a newly created fund, the Public Service Street Repair Fund. Money will be used solely for repairing streets within the city.
Councilman Bruce Hawkins questioned the policy of the police chief sitting on a board that would be hearing an appeal to a decision made by the chief. Merrilees said the ordinance was patterned after boards in cities similar to Mount Vernon.
Also given a first reading was a resolution authorizing the safety-service director to enter into a contract for housing of prisoners in the Knox County Jail. According to Mavis, the contract submitted by the Knox County Commissioners includes a 4 percent increase. Last year, the city paid $286,866.96, paid in monthly installments. For 2010 the amount would be $298,341.64, or a rate of about $35 a day.
Council President John Booth questioned the 4 percent number, considering the cost of living nor wages increased by 4 percent.
“Maybe there’s some room for negotiation here,” he said.
Councilman Chuck Dice agreed.
“I would certainly urge you to tell [the commissioners] that my understanding was that rate would be negotiated and not arbitrarily set by the commissioners,” he told Mavis.
Councilman Mike Hillier suggested reviewing the tape of the November meeting with the commissioners in which the contract was discussed.
Council approved appropriations of about $9.5 million dealing with the selling of bonds and bond redemptions. City Auditor Terry Scott said about $2.6 million was raised through bond sales for the Kokosing and Center Run interceptors. Another $6.9 was raised through issuing bonds to retire the Blackjack Road short-term notes.
According to Scott, refinancing the 1999 bonds for the water plant will save $862,000 over the next nine years, or about $95,000 a year. The first savings will be realized in 2010.
“That will certainly help our other funds very much,” he said.
In preparation for issuing the bonds, Scott said, he developed a five-year forecast, which he said was of interest to investors. The new interest rate on the bonds is 3 percent compared to 6.25 percent.
Council also approved a resolution agreeing to pay its portion of a proposed paving project on Ohio 229. The paving would begin at the bridge just West of Edgewood Road and extend for 1.6 miles. Mavis said it’s an Ohio Department of Transportation project; ODOT will pay 80 percent of the cost, the city 20 percent. City Engineer Cameron Keaton said the city’s estimated portion will be $15,000 to $20,000.
“It was a 2011 project, but it got bumped up [to 2010], which doesn’t happen very often,” said Keaton.
In other action, council reappointed Gary Donaldson to a five-year term to the Recreation Board and Margaret Ann Ruhl to a five-year term to the Metropolitan Housing Authority.