MOUNT VERNON — The City of Mount Vernon is preparing to assess property owners in the area of the Landings Subdivision for repairs to the Knox Cattleman’s Dam.
Up for vote at Monday’s meeting of city council is a draw on the city’s reserve balance fund to fund repairs to the dam. Also Monday, council will vote whether to amend the city ordinance that allows for assessments on property owners for stormwater-related work, giving the city more teeth if it chooses to recapture the funds drawn from the reserve balance for the repairs by assessing property owners.
The assessed property owners would be those who stand to benefit from repairs to the Cattleman’s Dam and are mostly located in the area of Yaugher Road in and around the Landings Subdivision.
The Cattleman’s Dam has been included in discussions involving a proposed stormwater utility, which could also be used to assess property owners for repairs. Council has not yet decided if it will go with a stormwater utility, and repairs to the dam will move forward with or without it, City Engineer Brian Ball said.
Ball said the cost of engineering for the repairs is expected to be approximately $100,000, with construction around $200,000. The draw from the reserve balance fund will therefore be about $300,000, Ball said.
Ball said the city intends to “recapture” the amount spent on the dam through an assessment on the affected property owners. Those property owners include two members of city council — Chris Menapace and Nancy Vail. Menapace lives in the affected area, and Vail owns property in the same area.
The reserve balance fund was created in 2017, City Auditor Terry Scott said. It currently contains about $1 million.
Money for the fund comes out of the city’s 2 percent income tax. It is based on a formula; an amount equaling five percent of the city’s annual general fund budget is drawn from the income tax and is deposited into the reserve balance fund, Scott said. The reserve balance fund is left to grow.
Ball said the reserve balance fund can be used for water issues, such as the repairs at the dam.
Drawing from the reserve balance fund requires approval by two-thirds of council. There are currently seven members of council; Menapace and Vail will not be able to vote due to conflicts of interest in that they own property in the area of the dam. Councilmember Sam Barone will also be unable to vote due to a conflict of interest, as he sits on the Knox Community Hospital KCH board. KCH is also in the affected area of the dam.
That brings the number of council who can vote down to four, less than the required two-thirds vote of five. However, Scott said Ohio ethics law allows for the two thirds to be counted only on councilmembers eligible to vote. Therefore, the two-thirds would only count as members who do not have a conflict of interest, bringing the number of required votes to three.
The amendments to the city assessment ordinance will allow the city to attach unpaid assessments to property owner’s taxes if they are delinquent in paying the assessed amount. Currently, the city can charge delinquent assessments as a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
A resolution to transfer funds, bid and then enter into contracts for engineering services of the Cattleman’s Dam is up for first reading during council’s legislative session. Also up for first reading is the amendments to the assessment ordinance.
The draw from the reserve balance fund will be discussed from 6 – 6:15 p.m. in a finance and budget committee meeting prior to council’s legislative session. That will be followed by a one-hour discussion, from 6:15 – 7:15 p.m. on the stormwater utility.
Action for council’s legislative session includes:
•First reading of a pay ordinance setting salaries of $8,378 for council and council president, $71,968 for the mayor, to increase to $76,373 by 2023, $68,398 for the auditor, to increase to $72,584 by 2023, $104,899 for the law director, to increase to $111,320 by 2023.
•A proclamation honoring Vincent Jingwei Baker for winning the Ohio High School State Chess Championship;
•First reading of a resolution authorizing the safety service director to advertise for bids and enter into a contract for the Chestnut Street and North Main Street intersection improvements;
•First reading of a resolution to contract with GPD Group for engineering services for the South Main Street and Columbus Road intersection modifications;
•First reading of a resolution authorizing the safety service director to apply for Ohio Public Works Commission funds for the South Main Street and Columbus Road intersection modifications;
•First reading of a resolution authorizing the safety services director to apply for Natural Resources Assistance Council funds for restoration along the Kokosing River adjacent to Ariel-Foundation Park;
•First reading of a resolution authorizing the safety services director to advertise for bids and enter into a contract for construction of Yellow Jacket Drive.