North Fairfield Concerned With Unkept Property

By Lynne Phillips
Special to the Times-Junction

A complaint received by council members in North Fairfield about a property with debris and junk was under discussion during Monday night’s meeting.

Village administrator Tom Leto told council he has made repeated attempts to contact the property owner by phone. “He does not return phone calls,” he said.

Leto questioned whether he can simply walk on to the property to see the condition of it.

Village solicitor Vickie Ruffing indicated he could.

“If he (the property owner) asks you to leave, you will have to leave,” she said. “I would exercise caution. If there is an issue of physical safety I would advise you not do it.”

Leto told council he went to the person who made the original complaint and was allowed to take photos from his property of the area of the complaint. He stated the property in question has vehicles, metal and an awful mess in the backyard.

Council member Mary Millis asked Leto if the cars were able to be driven. Leto said he did not think so but could not say for certain.

Council member Amy Gahring said she had been told the owner has been moving things off of the property.

Leto said he did not know what he was doing, but there are cars located in the backyard hidden behind buildings.

Ruffing suggested Leto contact the property owner by letter and request an appointment and investigate complaints received by the village regarding the condition of his property.

Pay increases for village employees were under discussion. There are different designations for workers, according to village ordinance with differing pay rates.

Millis said she suggested to Mayor Josh Radcliffe the titles be changed, rather than changing the ordinance, relating to pay rates.

Radcliffe noted during a previous meeting there was a first reading of a wage ordinance.

Ruffing said the first reading was by title only and it takes three readings for it to take effect. To get it started it was done by title only. She suggested council look at the draft of the second reading to be sure it is what they intend to do.

There have been numerous wage ordinances over the last few years. Ruffing told council the reason for the first reading was to keep it moving.

The new ordinance lumps all workers under village worker and changes the compensation of the village administrator for various duties.

Also discussed was compensation of council members. Council gave second reading of the as yet non-titled ordinance. The third and final reading is expected at the March 26 meeting.

Mayor Josh Radcliffe reported on legislation at the state level that could affect the village.

He said information from the Ohio Municipal League and the proposed gas tax language has changed from 18-percent to 7-percent tentatively effective in Oct. of this year and 3.7-percent in 2020.

Additionally, a $0.20 increase in diesel fuel, a registration fee of $200 for electric cars and $100 for hybrid cars. Plus, he noted, there is language providing for an additional $5 permissive tax on license plates for local government and townships.

House Bill 124, currently in committee, would allow some small farm animals within a village’s limits. It would also prohibit municipalities to have legislation against it.

“It would negate many of the laws regarding farm animals in the village,” Radcliffe stated.

There will be a meeting with Huron County Emergency Management relating to the 911 system. Radcliffe said currently the system is funded by a $0.25 fee per wireless device.

“They are considering a a levy to be placed on the Nov. 2019 ballot,” he explained. “The $0.25 fee is currently giving HCEMA about $128,000 per year. It is currently costing about $210,000 per year to maintain day-to-day operations. They are looking to update to next generation 911 and are looking to implement it over the next two to three years.”

It would be a continuous levy, Radcliffe pointed out, and would not need to be renewed every five years.

Fiscal officer Linda Prater reported she did a survey of the village’s audit and indicated there was no post audit meeting. She told council an auditor contacted her and the information to the State Auditor, who expressed concern about the matter.

Prater said she explained there was difficulty in getting everyone together. “The auditor left it up to us whether we still wanted one or not.”

Council agreed that the auditor needed to be contacted for a post audit.

An estimate for new flooring and a window for the village office was given totalling $2,237.55.

Prater said it would save the village money if a loan for the purchase and installation of a furnace was paid off by the village. There would a penalty of $172.31 versus $1.07 per day interest for two years which is $720. The payoff totals $5,946.33.

Public Entities Pool (insurance) is offering grants for 2019 for $1,000 for risk safety, according to Prater. She asked council for suggestions for the application.

North Fairfield Council meets regularly on the second and last Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. at the village hall. The meeting will be held on March 26.

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