By: Anna Wozniak
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The West Unity Village Council met on December 14, 2023 at 7 p.m. for a public zoning meeting, which was held for 13 minutes.
During this hearing, the properties purchased by the Williams County Port Authority (WCPA) were approved for residential zoning.
Residents asked whether there would be any digging, and were met with the response that the properties are already hooked up to public utilities.
At 7:27 p.m., a short tree committee meeting yielded the final results of this year’s hard work, with Village Administrator Joshua Fritsch sharing that they are well on their way to eradicating problem trees within village limits.
It was at 7:30 p.m. that the West Unity Village Council began their regular session, first approving the bills as presented. Present were Fiscal Officer Sarah Higdon, Mayor Don Leu, Village Administrator Joshua Fritsch, and West Unity Police Chief JR Jones alongside councilors Kevin Gray, Stephen Marvin, Terri Lewbowsi, Shawn Blaisdell, Dave Short, and Nathan Massie.
They then approved the minutes of their November 9, 2023 regular meeting and November 30, 2023 special meeting as presented.
They then passed Resolution 12-2023-10 after a suspension of the rules and a declaration of emergency. Councilor Massie asked for the particular appropriations of the funds, which were used for the ditch correction project off of Church Street, before it was approved.
Resolution 12-2023-11 was passed on its first reading after a declaration of emergency, and approved the holiday and vacation hours pay-out.
Resolution 12-2023-12 was given its first reading, and should eventually provide for the village administrator to engage in internet listing of village property for sale throughout 2024.
Resolution 12-2023-13 approved appropriations to balance fiscal year 2023, and was approved on its first reading after a suspension of the rules.
Fiscal Officer Sarah Higdon shared that Resolution 12-2023-13 is necessary because while grant funding should begin coming in soon, the appropriations being made are to account for the first payment request needed for the Church Street extension project before the grant funds come in.
Ordinance 20-23-12, which would give the problem water tank discussed last meeting back to its original owners, was given its first reading.
The budget proposal for the village was then discussed, with Higdon sharing that an overpayment of business taxes in 2022 has resulted in a large negative impact in the balance this year due to the businesses asking for a refund.
The administrator has decided against purchasing a new snow plow this year, and there has been a decrease in expenditures due to last year’s high amount of projects.
The benches have been removed from the budget, with it being reported that each bench has risen upwards in costs exceeding $1,000.
Cable franchise fees have been steadily decreasing with the rise of streaming services, and so Higdon has kept that expected margin conservatively low in preparation against this trend.
The carryover from the waterline project has been split up, and the batting cage project has been added to the budget as well.
Discussion was held on the cost of the batting cage project, with Massie leading the decision to reduce the amount spent on batting cages by half.
Engineering costs for future projects have yet to be determined and figured into the budget, and it was decided that some undetermined costs would be taken out until their exact costs can be approved for appropriation.
The West Unity Village council then entered into executive session at 8:18 p.m., and returned at 9 p.m.
Upon returning, Dave Short made a motion to suspend the rules on the 8th edition of the proposed village budget for 2024 budget before making a motion to approve the 2024 budget for the village of West Unity
Ordinance 2023-11 for annual appropriations for fiscal 2024 expenditures and expenses was approved, as was Resolution 12-23-14, which approved 2024 pay rates and ranges for village employees.
Ordinance 2023-10 approved the pay ranges for different positions for 2024, and was approved on its first reading after a suspension of the rules.
Administrator Fritsch then started sharing his report, beginning with the details of a lot split for a soon to be sold property, which was then approved by council unanimously.
Details were then discussed on the parameters of grants that the village administrator is wanting to apply for, with Fritsch sharing that there is some time for council to make a decision on whether to apply for the versatile $50,000 grant.
The chipper truck will no longer go into reverse, and the transmission is being labeled as blown. A chipper box has been added to the Dodge, but there are concerns over how the salt will affect rusting with continued use.
Chief JR Jones shared his report, calling for a safety meeting before the January 11th West Unity Village Council meeting, which is set for 7:30 p.m., to discuss an hourly wage for full-time police officers.
Mayor Leu shared how much positive feedback he has received from the community on the wonderful Christmas decorations.
Councilor Gray spoke on wanting to provide Chamber Bucks for Christmas to deserving community members, which was approved by way of motion unanimously.
Councilor Marvin thanked everyone for doing their best to support the village, and Councilor Lebowsky noted how smooth the year has gone.
Councilor Blaisdell shared that future construction projects should be sure to provide commencement notice, with the most recent seeing residents notified of the construction a few days after the project began.
All of the Councilors shared how wonderful downtown looks with the new lights, and wished everyone a Merry Christmas before voting to adjourn at 9:26 p.m.