City to renovate Public Works facilities

Wages increase for Power System journeymen, crew leaders

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission authorized an agreement for the design of renovations and repairs for the Piqua Public Works Department facilities during their meeting Tuesday evening.

The commission approved contracting with Levin Porter Associates, Inc. to design those improvements and operate as the construction management for the later implementation of those renovations for Public Works facilities. The Public Works administration has moved out of those facilities due to the presence of mold, City Engineer Amy Havenar said. The repairs for the project will include mitigating the mold along with addressing drainage and mechanical system issues.

Commissioner John Martin asked if it would save money to tear down and rebuild a portion of those facilities rather than repair the existing building. A representative of Levin Porter Associates, Inc. said the project has not yet crossed the threshold of knowing which option is more cost-effective.

The Public Works Department budgeted funds in 2017 for the design of the improvements. The cost is not to exceed $71,500, which includes a 10 percent contingency.

The city renegotiated wages within a collective bargaining agreement with Piqua Power System employees. According to City Manager Gary Huff, the Piqua Power System has lost employees to private power companies or co-ops for higher wages. “Our efforts are to try to curtail that,” Huff said.

The city will be raising wages for journeymen and journeymen crew leaders in order to be competitive in the market. Huff also noted that they are working on completing a compensation study that is expected to be ready to use to determine employee wages next year.

“We spend a lot of money training these people,” Joe Drapp of the Piqua Energy Board said. Drapp noted that the increases to the wages will not bring those employees to the top of the range of compensation available in the market, but rather to a mid-range point.

The commission went into executive session prior to approving the increases in wages.

Commissioner Bill Vogt said that wages are a problem, but added, “We do have good benefits here.”

Also during their meeting, the commission held the second reading of an ordinance to levy special assessments to pay for the cost of nuisance abatements in the city. The city abates nuisance conditions on properties when the property owners do not comply with the city code, such as mowing high grass, removing trash, and so on. The city is seeking reimbursement of an approximate total of $55,807 from property owners by having the county auditor’s office apply the special assessments to the property taxes.

Later in the meeting, Huff said that the city expects the CSX railroad bridge over Ash Street/U.S. Route 36 to be painted next week. There was a delay in the painting contractor, APBN Inc. of Campbell, obtaining approval from CSX on their rigging system. There was also a delay in APBN Inc. obtaining approval from CSX on their insurance for the project. These delays were not resolved by the last scheduled start time for the project, which was Monday.

Huff also commended the engineering department for obtaining over $14 million in state and federal grant funding since 2011. “It almost astounded me,” he said, noting that he was gathering that information for Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office.

Huff went on to say that the city has issued over 430 grass and weed violations along with over 600 building code violations. Huff said that they are also trying to work with some property owners who are not able to resolve those issues themselves.

Vogt later said that he saw people mowing grass onto the street again, which can cause issues in the stormwater system. He warned residents that he would name residents and addresses of those who continue to mow grass into the street and leave it there during the next commission meeting.

“Next meeting, you will be notified here,” Vogt said. He encouraged residents to sweep up grass that they mow onto the street. “It looks much nicer,” he said.

During the announcement period of the meeting, Jeff Lange of Protecting Our Water-Ways (POWW) said that 75 volunteers cleaned up 1.7 tons of trash, including 22 tires, from along 16 miles of the river during the recent the Clean Sweep of The Great Miami River. Interesting finds included a television set, box springs intertwined with a mile of barbed wire fencing, a shopping cart, a mason jar filled with letters, a toothpick, a candy bar, and a lighter.

Sponsors for the clean-up event included Cargill Corporation, Atlantis Sportswear, the Miami Conservancy District, WPTW, Cox Media Group, American Rivers, the Butler County Stormwater District, the City of Sidney, Heidelberg Distributers, Bonbright, Sweetwater Brewery, POWW, and other local businesses that provided food and water for the volunteers. The city of Piqua also helped POWW load two dump trucks of trash.

Wages increase for Power System journeymen, crew leaders

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336