At Galion City Council’s Tuesday, April 12 meeting, the controversial “Setting the PCA” ordinance passed, establishing a Power Cost Adjustment increase of $0.0034 (which can also be expressed as .34 %). The ordinance was given its third reading, after its long journey through the Utilities Committee, a commissioned study, and discussion at the past two council meetings.
Kara Ault, the council member who chairs the utilities committee, had previously explained to council that the increase in electric rates – which amounts to a few dollars per month for an average household – would defray the city’s climbing costs in providing electric service.
Council member Mike Richart emphasized that the rate increase is “much lower” than the amount recommended in a Sawville study of the city’s electric rates; the proposed PCA is about half of what Sawville recommended. “Still,” Richart pointed out, “the city is paying more and that money has to come from somewhere.”
The ordinance passed on its final reading, with a vote of four to one. Council member Carrie Zeger cast the lone vote against the Power Cost Adjustment increase of $0.0034 . At the time of this writing, Zeger had not responded to requests for comment on her “no” vote.
Members Paula Durbin and Aaron Ivy were absent from the meeting due to illness and were excused.
All of the other ordinances on the meeting’s agenda were new to council and were introduced as ‘first readings.’ An insufficient number of council members was present to suspend the rules on any of these items, to make them ‘final readings’ and pass them, leading Mayor Tom O’Leary to remark later in the meeting that “it will be nice to get our legislators here so we can pass some legislation.”
GPD Agreement – Water Plant
Ault explained that this ordinance will allow the city to enter into a contract with engineers to make plans to repair the city’s water system. “This is a good step in the right direction, for much-needed repairs,” Ault said, adding that the funding for the planning comes from ARPA funds.
O’Leary agreed, “This will get things moving on maintenance and repairs… The sooner, the better.”
Safety Service Director Nikki Ward informed council that the goal is to complete all of the repairs by the end of 2023, which O’Leary further clarified would allow for a lot of the work to be done this coming winter, when pollutant levels are naturally lower due to decreased consumer usage.
Property Transfer – Port Authority
Richart explained that this ordinance originated in the Laws and Ordinances Committee. It will allow for the Port Authority to assist in development of one of two long-unused parcels of land comprising a site on Market Street that was previously owned by Eagle Crusher, that formerly had been found to have environmental hazards present in debris on the site.
O’Leary told council that the city has spent around $17,000 in Phase 1 & 2 expenditures to abate the site’s environmental hazards. With this transfer, he asserted, none of this money will come back to the city. However, at this point, the site is not suitable for residential use and would present additional costs and challenges to clean. O’Leary further stated that if development efforts fail on either of the two parcels, the property will revert back to the city.
“There is a benefit to using the site,” Richart opined.
Ward informed council that the city periodically lists surplus items on the web site ‘govdeals’ in order to clear out unneeded possessions but also add money back into the city’s coffers.
Amending Ordinance No. 2021-116
City Auditor Brian Saterfield said that this is simply a correction for a typographical error. “We’re not moving money, just changing funding accounts,” he asserted. Saterfield went on to present his bi-monthly report to council and said, “We’re still treading water,” although he also added that his staff and the state auditor’s office had successfully reconciled November and December.
Treasurer Rodney Sparks used the time allotted for his report to tell the council that he has seen signs of recession, including but not limited to rising inflation. “Look out,” he cautioned.
During the Mayor’s Report, O’Leary shared that at the Economic Development meeting on the 19th, he would like to have a conversation about proposed infrastructure. “Why spend money on design if there is no interest to build?” he queried.
O’Leary also announced unexpected changes in the construction schedule on SR 598; further details about the traffic impact can be found on the city’s web site or on their Facebook page.