Mayoral proposal moves on

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA — It will now be up to voters in Piqua to decide how the city’s mayor gets elected. Tuesday evening, the Piqua City Commission approved sending a proposed amendment to the Miami County Board of Elections to appear on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment is in regard to how the mayor is elected and re-establishes how the mayor is chosen. Instead of the public electing someone to the position, the city commissioners will elect the mayor every two years. The commissioners will also elect a vice mayor every two years. Only commissioners will be eligible to be mayor or vice mayor.

Piqua voters will decide whether they want to change how the mayor is elected or keep the charter the same when the proposed amendment appears on the ballot in November.

The commission has previously explained that they pursued this possible change for the charter as a way to deter confusion for Piqua voters. To be elected mayor within the city of Piqua, the candidate must first be elected commissioner. If the candidate does not receive the majority vote for his or her commission seat, that candidate will not be able to become mayor regardless of whether the candidate wins the majority of the votes for that role.

“Those people have an obligation … to learn the election process,” Bill Jaqua of Piqua said. “I think you’re going to have a real problem with this after it passes, which I’m sure it will.”

The majority of the commission voted against new preliminary consent legislation with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for work on the bridge on Ash Street (U.S. Route 36) over the Great Miami River. The current legislation that was approved in 2013 allows ODOT to complete rehabilitation work on that bridge at no cost to the city.

The new legislation included the construction of a retaining wall to keep from having to eliminate an eastbound right-turn-only lane leading to the Miami Valley Centre Mall. The estimated cost to the city would have been approximately $120,000, which was budgeted for 2018.

Commissioners Joe Wilson, Judy Terry, John Martin, and Bill Vogt voted against adding the retaining wall, which City Manager Gary Huff said would have also alleviated drainage issues in addition to saving the right-turn-only lane. Mayor Kazy Hinds voted in favor of the new legislation.

“I’m tired of spending the city’s money on projects like that,” Vogt said. Vogt called the retaining wall and spreading out the lanes on that portion of Ash Street, which would be done by saving that right-turn-only lane, a “pure waste of money.”

The commission also heard the second reading of an ordinance that will make rules and curfew hours within city parks consistent. Residents will not be permitted in city parks between dusk and 7 a.m. unless they are at a sports game at a lighted field. The legislation also states that hobbyists taking part in geocaching, a high-tech treasure-hunting activity, will also have to seek permission from the city before utilizing any city property for that game.

The commission approved a contract to PST Services, Inc. a McKesson Company for emergency medical services (EMS) billing services for the Piqua Fire Department. The cost will be $50,564. The department will also be able to reduce fees from 6 percent to 4.9 percent on collected funds due to the cost-savings.

The commission also approved multiple rezoning requests and a request to replat certain parcels of land on North County Road 25-A.

The commission then approved the professional services agreement with 292 Design Group for a feasibility plan. The feasibility plan would help to understand the viability of having a community center campus near Wertz Stadium and Roosevelt Fieldhouse. The feasibility plan will also be equally funded by the city and other agencies. The total cost would be $29,500, with the city paying $5,900.

The commission set a public hearing for the proposed city tax budget for Miami County for 2017. It will be held during the next commission meeting on July 5 at 7:30 p.m.

For the last item of business, the commission approved entering into the LPA Federal Local-Let Project Agreement with ODOT for the Covington Avenue Resurfacing Project. As a Local-Let project, the city will handle the project bidding and the construction inspection rather than ODOT. ODOT is still funding 75 percent of the eligible costs for the project up to $512,068 in federal funds.

By Sam Wildow

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall