GALION — Spring is here, so it only made sense that storm water was on the minds of Galion City Council and city administrators at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, held via a Zoom app and broadcast live on Facebook and the city’s YouTube page. Those involved in the meeting were at homes or in their office or in one case in a vehicle for part of the meeting.
The first order of businesses was an ordinance allowing the city to advertise for bid to get to work on Phase 3 of the southeast storm sewer project. Engineering for the project has been completed.
“Now that we have a completed design, we want to get that under construction,” said Mayor Tom O’Leary, while acknowledging there are still some unknowns about how COVID-19 will affect city finances.
Board member Thomas Fellner agreed: “We need to proceed even though we have an economic firestorm going on around the country. We need to keep on track with our infrastructure upgrades.”
Council members also passed legislating authorizing a 90-day payment holiday for the city’s storm water customers, beginning with the May 1 billing cycle, and ending after the July 1 billing cycle. The holiday is intended to make life a little bit easier for those affected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think it is well understood what the intent its,” O’Leary explained. “It will cost (the city) about $55,000 a month, though benefits to residents are negligible. I would argue that it is safe and fiscally responsible. In 90 days, we will see where we are at and see if we want to extend the holiday or do something else to modify the rates.”
City council member Mark Triplett agreed: “It is a small token, but it is a token nonetheless.”
Council members also passed a resolution appointing Chanel Hipp to the board of directors of the Galion Port Authority. She was one of the original board members and is returning for a second term.
Council members discussed for about 30 minutes the implementation of a credit card policy for the city of Galion.
Although the actual resolution was meant only to update a policy agreed to just a few weeks ago, so it is in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, the conversation returned to whether or not the city should have a credit card at all.
“I don’t see why we need a credit card,” Triplett said. “PO (purchase orders) are easy to get.”
Council member Ken Bodkins agreed. “Is the system broke,” he asked.
Administrative Clerk Eunice Collene reminded everyone that the legislation being discussed only concerned the $5,000 limit enacted when the credit card was OK’d.
But the conversation turned back to whether the city should have a credit card, period.
Some council members said it was unnecessary and that paying back employees who use their own credit cards does not appear to be that big of an issue, and that getting purchase orders does not seem to be much of a problem.
There also appears to be lingering concerns about credit card abuses in the past by former city officials.
There were more questions about who will be in charge of the card and who can use it and under what conditions it may be used.
Others argued that at times, the best prices available for items the city needs, are available on Amazon, and to order, a credit card is necessary. They also said having to use personal credit cards can sometimes cause financial hardships for those whose card is being used..
It relayed that some companies actually require a credit card to be used for purchases.
“I don’t believe the system is broken, but the system has expanded,” Fellner said. “I don’t think we’re going to quit using purchase orders, but credit card are required at times for expediency.”
Council president Carl Watt ended discussion after about 30 minutes and it was decided to hold the legislation to a first reading. It will be discussed at future committee meetings and will be brought before city council again in the future.
In other action, auditor Brian Treisch, commenting on COVID-19, said the city is “in decent shape, but we are seeing some erosion on income tax payments.”
He said the full extent of COVID-19 damage won’t be known for some time.
O’Leary praised Galion residents who have been paying utility bills on time and said the hit from the pandemic was not yet as deep as expected. He announced that the Municipal Building and the city utility offices will open back up to the public Monday.
“I think we are have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment to do that,” he said.