PIQUA — During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Piqua City Commission honored retired Deputy Chief Tom Christy, formerly of the Piqua Police Department, for “over 35 years of of faithful and dedicated service to the city and its citizens.”
“I just wanted to say one thing and that is it’s my duty to thank all of you and all your predecessors for giving me this opportunity,” Christy said after Mayor Kazy Hinds presented him and his wife with a resolution of appreciation. “It’s been a wonderful career. I’ve enjoyed working for the nearly 36 years.”
Christy mentioned that he has worked under five different police chiefs.
“One thing that they’ve all had in common, Chief Jamison as well, and that is they demanded excellence from their employees,” Christy said. “And I would only ask that the commissioners continue the same thing … don’t expect it, but demand excellence, because they have the people there to do it and I feel very confident in their ability.”
On the topic of old business, the commission voted to table the ordinance that will slightly restructure the layout of their meetings.
The ordinance would have amended the section of the Piqua code that sets the rules of conduct of commission meetings and would establish public comment as taking place at the beginning of commission meetings. If it had been approved, public comment would no longer have taken place at the end of the meeting and would not have been sought after each item of business on the agenda.
During the ordinance’s third reading on the matter, commissioners Joe Wilson, John Martin, and Bill Vogt each expressed a desire to continue taking public comment after each item of business on the agenda after hearing input from the public.
“Everyone that I talked to agreed that moving the public announcement part of the meeting forward made a lot of sense, but I didn’t find anyone who agreed with eliminating the comment throughout the agenda,” Wilson said.
Wilson stated that, of the residents he talked to, most felt that eliminating public comment after each item of business would “take away from some of their right” to give the commission input. The residents would not have a way to respond to the commissioners’ comments or opinions given on a particular line item if the public gave their opinion at the beginning of the meeting before the commission gave theirs.
“It was pretty well unanimous that the preference would be, again, to bring the announcements to the beginning and then to leave the rest of the meeting as we’ve always done it forever,” Wilson said. “That’s the input I have received so far.”
City Attorney Stacy Wall said that the residents commenting during the meeting would only be able to comment one time during the meeting. The public would not be able to comment once, hear what the commission has to say after that, and then comment again.
Martin said that he received similar input as Wilson from the public.
“When we do public comment now, the commission speaks first, then we call for public comment,” Martin said. “So they’ve heard what we’re going to say. And if they have something that they want to say, they’re more informed of where we’re thinking if we have public comment after each resolution and ordinance.”
Martin added that he felt they should leave that part of the meeting the same, and Vogt stated that he was inclined to agree. Vogt said that he also heard from the public and mentioned that there might have been a sense of “paranoia” driving that concern.
“We’re not trying to pull a fast one on anybody, but you cannot stop that perception,” Vogt said, adding that maybe the commission should leave the meetings the way they are with moving announcements to the beginning of the meeting.
“I was pretty upset when I (saw) how this was going to be taken up,” one resident said during public comment. “I think people need to know that they have a voice.”
“If you’re trying to give your public comment before it’s been elaborated on, you don’t know what’s going to go on,” Jim Hemmert of Piqua said during public comment. “I would like for you to really consider how you restructure this thing.”
The commission then decided to table the ordinance.
On the order of new business, the commission approved a purchase order for a portable, 6-inch, diesel-driven pump and hoses for all water utilities departments to be purchased from Godwin Pumps of America, Inc. The unit will be used by all the water divisions when needed as well as during emergencies like a large water main break. The unit is mounted on a two-wheel trailer with a 60-gallon fuel tank. The unit also has a 2,000 hours/one-year warranty on the engine, pump, and trailer.
The cost is not to exceed $40,000. This item is budgeted in the city’s 2016 budget as 40 percent water funds, 40 percent wastewater funds, and 20 percent stormwater funds.
Also on the commission’s agenda was a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Application submission for the Piqua Great Miami River Recreational Trail Maintenance Project. The commission tabled that resolution indefinitely after finding they are not eligible for that funding.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall