Pictured is Milford Center solicitor Alison Boggs, swearing-in Dan Johnson, the village’s newest council member, at Monday night’s meeting. After visiting the council at March’s meeting, he expressed interest in filling the vacant council position. He isn’t assigned to any committee position yet, but he could be assisting other committee chairs with their tasks in the future.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Jacob Runnels)
The Village of Milford Center is figuring out how to deal with its $43,000 deficit in water bill collections.
At Monday night’s meeting, council members were surprised to note the village’s water, utilities and sewer department had racked up a $43,000 deficit over the years due to delinquent collections. The council brought up various ways to address collecting overdue water bills, but there was some confusion as to who enforces it and how they enforce it.
Councilmember Ron Payne brought up the fact the village council didn’t have the power to enforce a collection ordinance, but it was the responsibility of village administrator Chris Kise and Mayor Ray Reisinger.
“By next meeting, the executive branch of this village needs to present to these legislatures what you’re doing to collect the $43,000,” councilmember Ron Payne said. “That means, Chris and Ray, you’ve got to do this, or we’ll still be sitting here saying “someone’s got to do this.”
Council addressed how late water bill payers often received “red tags” and other warnings to pay their bills and simply skirted by with the minimum payment as part of a payment plan.
There were concerns for those who were on fixed incomes or had medical problems and couldn’t pay their bills on time, and it was agreed the council could be lenient toward them. However, it was highlighted these people were the reason why there is a deficit.
Reisinger said, in past councils, he was led to believe the health department prohibited the village from shutting off water services from delinquent homes.
However, water, utilities and sewer chairperson Terri Kean said she contacted the Union County Health Department and learned the village could indeed shut off services.
“Our ordinances say to disconnect,” Kean said. “If that’s not how we’re going to do it, then we change the ordinance.”
It was then agreed upon that Kise and Reisinger should be shutting off delinquent homes, but investigation should be given into why some people are delinquent.
Also at the meeting, solicitor Alison Boggs updated the council with more information about what to do for the covenant between Milford Center and the Ohio EPA concerning the new Dollar General store.
With the covenant, it would guarantee the village would not build or develop anything on Liberty Park.
“The EPA would not give Dollar General… the final approval on their end,” Boggs said. “The EPA said no unless there was designated green space.”
With the store officially opening May 18, council members were wondering if business with the EPA could be squared away in time for Dollar General to conduct inspections.
Once the covenant would be signed, it would make sure the village wouldn’t develop Liberty Park so that Dollar General has its own considered green space. However, Kean asked if the village had asked for anything in return from Dollar General.
“They’re going to do whatever you ask them because they want to come to town,” Kean said.
Other council members also asked about what the village could get from the company for the park. Kise mentioned wanting to make sure that, if one day Dollar General leaves the property, “then we want our green space back.”
Reisinger argued it’s a bit late for the village to be asking for more incentives for the covenant. New councilmember Dan Johnson agreed with Reisinger about the message of the village’s actions, and warned about being like Marysville, which he said is a pain for businesses.
“I don’t mind the spirit in what you’re asking and what you’re equipping the administrative with, but my only suggestion would be we want development in Milford Center,” Johnson said. “I know we’re going to work something out with them anyways, but I don’t want a reputation of being hard to deal with.”
The covenant was eventually signed with unanimous approval, and the second and third readings were waived in relation to the urgency of the store opening soon.
Also at the meeting, Johnson, a man who came into the March meeting to contest a parking ticket, is now filling in a vacant seat on the council.
Reisinger said he and another applicant had expressed interest in the position days after the meeting, and he was appointed shortly afterward. He is currently not a chairperson for a committee, but Reisinger said he may assist other council members with their committee duties.
Also in the meeting, Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton had Reisinger sign an agreement with the Sheriff’s Office for the school resource officer (SRO) program at Fairbanks. Though the board already agreed on getting an SRO for the Fairbanks School District, Patton said it has taken a while to correspond with the other entities who will help fund the SRO.
“I can’t thank you guys enough for the support you gave us to make this, which was initially a concept and an idea, come to real life,” Patton said. “I’ve complimented you folks and the townships for making this happen, and hopefully we can continue with the program and grow with a lot of good things.”
Finally, the village decided to host its village yard sale on May 5 and the village cleanup on May 12.
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