PIQUA — Increasing steel costs are delaying the construction of a local city project.
City Manager Gary Huff updated the Piqua City Commission on the status of the new Health and Sanitation facility during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday evening, explaining that the construction of the building is being delayed due to the rising cost of steel.
“We are going to delay the construction of that project. It’s really related to the cost of steel,” Huff said. “This is not the time to proceed. We’re seeing tremendous steel price increases, and we want to wait and see if this issue works out with the tariffs.”
Huff alluded to the 25 percent tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on steel imports in March, affecting U.S. allies on May 31.
The cost of domestic steel is also on the rise. The Associated Press reported that the cost of U.S. hot-rolled coil steel has risen approximately 40 percent since the beginning of this year, citing a representative from S&P Global Platts. U.S. cold-rolled coil also appears to be on the rise but at a slower rate, according to price assessment providers.
“We will be holding off moving forward on that until we feel it’s the appropriate time that we can get better prices on the project,” Huff said.
The new Health and Sanitation facility has been in planning for over a year. In June 2017, the commission approved entering into an agreement with Levin Porter Architects for the design and construction management for the new Health and Sanitation Facility at a cost not to exceed $202,950. In April of this year, the commission approved a contract with Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio for the installation of gas facilities at 156 Robert M. Davis Parkway for the new Health and Sanitation facility at a cost not to exceed $61,250.
The construction contract of the project had not yet been awarded, but commissioner John Martin alluded to the estimated cost of the construction of the building being over $2 million in a discussion about increases to trash collection fees in February.
Commissioner Kris Lee also commented on the project delay on Tuesday evening.
“I watch the news every day. A lot of times it does not hit quite at home, and this hits at home,” Lee said. “The stuff that’s going on out in the larger world is actually affecting us here in Piqua. It’s disappointing. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully things will change and get to the point where … it’ll be affordable for us to build the facility we want to build.”
Levy headed to November ballot
The commission also held a joint meeting with Washington Township Trustees on Tuesday evening, approving sending a renewal levy with an increase to the Miami County Board of Elections to be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. The approval was unanimous.
The tax levy would be a renewal of 0.5 mills with an increase of 0.2 mills. The levy shall not exceed 0.70 mills for each $1 of valuation, which amounts to $0.07 for each $100 of valuation, according to the resolution. The levy would also be for five years.
Forest Hill Cemetery is seeking to renew the levy that raises funds for the cemetery and increase the amount for improvements. Trustee James Hiegel said that the additional funds from the increase will go toward improvements at the cemetery, including opening a new section of the cemetery for burial sites as well as possibly constructing a storage building.
City adjusts collective bargaining agreement
After that joint meeting, the commission went into executive session to consider imminent or pending litigation regarding a grievance filed by Local No. 984, Ohio Council 8, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
“The city has a collective bargaining agreement with the blue collar AFSCME group, effective 2017 through 2019. As part of that collective bargaining agreement, the city was to conduct a compensation study,” City Attorney Stacy Wall said. That study was completed, and as part of that study, the commission approved a resolution in April that adjusted “certain positions in the electric department as well as froze certain positions from any increases in the contract,” Wall said.
“As a result of that action, the union filed a grievance on the compensation study, and as a result of that grievance, the city and the union participated in mediation,” Wall said. “As a result of mediation … the parties have entered into a memorandum of understanding that will resolve the grievance as well as any issues with the compensation study.”
The commission approved repealing a section from the city’s collective bargaining agreement that froze wages for wastewater operators, meter readers, and lab technicians until 2019.
The commission also approved accepted the terms of the memorandum of understanding, which added an amendment to that bargaining agreement to amend the wage scale for 2018 and 2019 for an equity adjustment.
“The terms of the memorandum of understanding allow for an equity adjustment for the positions only in the top step of the wage study or the wage scales that are attached in the contract,” Wall said.
The adjusted wage scale would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.
City says goodbye to Sommer
Also during Huff’s report to the commission, Huff recognized Justin Sommer, assistant city manager and economic development director for the city of Piqua, who is leaving the city of Piqua for a new position with Bruns General Contractors located in Tipp City.
“He has just done a great job,” Huff said. During Sommer’s time with the city, Huff said that the city saw job growth and population growth as well as received millions in grant funding.
“We’ve gotten very important marketing awards and national attention,” Huff said.
Huff said that Sommer’s “last great accomplishment” with the city was getting the city designated as an opportunity zone.
Lee and Mayor Kazy Hinds also expressed their appreciation for Sommer’s efforts.
Sommer also thanked the commission for their support and noted the work of his staff in the development department.
“I’m very proud of the work being done here,” Sommer said.
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