PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission discussed a light agenda Tuesday evening during the meeting, going over end of the year items as well as requests for submitting funding applications.
The commission held the first readings of ordinances that will give city employees a 2 percent wage increase for the coming year, including employees who are non-union, part-time, temporary, or seasonal. Human Resources Director Elaine Barton explained this increase is the same as what was agreed upon for police union contracts. Barton also noted that minimum wage will increase by 5 cents in Ohio next year.
“We’re keeping a bit ahead of that,” Barton said.
The commission then heard the first reading of an ordinance to set the benefit year for employee health insurance to 2017. The ordinance also adds an additional category for employees to receive wellness credits. Everything else stays the same.
The city is also seeking grant funding to complete asbestos abatement at the former Mo’s Lounge property, located at 111 S, Main St. A Phase II Environmental Assessment was completed using U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funds in November 2015.
“There is $268,700 worth of asbestos that needs to be abated,” Development Program Manager Nikki Reese said about that assessment’s findings. Reese said the asbestos abatement would make the building more appealing to developers.
The commission approved for the city to request a $200,000 U.S. EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant for that purpose. The city is also required to provide a 20 percent match committed to the project, which can include the cost of the building.
The city will not find out if they receive that grant funding until April of next year. The project would be completed between July and September of that year. Reese said that if the city does not receive that funding, they will not go forward with the project.
The commission also approved for the city to apply for and enter into a water pollution control loan fund agreement for the construction, engineering administration, material testing, and quality assurance of wastewater facilities’ expansion and upgrading.
Commissioner Joe Wilson asked for some background on the project for the public.
Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Chris Melvin explained that the upgrades will address the city’s sanitary sewer overflow (SSO), which occurs when untreated water goes into the Great Miami River during times when the flow is too much for the current Wastewater Treatment Plant to handle.
“We’re expanding the plant to take on the flow,” Melvin said.
The city is addressing SSO issues to be in compliance with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is not just a local issue.
“Across the nation, water and wastewater are big issues,” City Manager Gary Huff said.
In regard to old business, the commission heard the second reading of an ordinance to make appropriations for the city for 2017.
Also noted during the meeting, Huff thanked local business people and organizations for land donations they gave or committed to the city so that the city can complete various projects. Huff noted Paul Sherry for donating land on Fox Drive for the new water tower and Piqua Materials for approximately 8.7 acres for the Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades. Huff also said that he is expecting the Piqua School District to donate land to the city for the Downtown Riverfront Development Strategy and other projects.
The commissioners also noted the variety of Christmas events held over the weekend, including Christmas on the Green, the Christmas holiday parade, the fifth annual Holiday Cabaret “A Family Christmas” presented by the Friends of the Piqua Library at the Fort Piqua Plaza, and the Piqua Civic Band performing their concert “The Wonder of the Holidays” at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Commissioners noted the work of Mainstreet Piqua Executive Director Lorna Swisher, the Piqua Public Works Department, and Piqua Police Department to help make those events successful.
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