WM council supports library levy

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — The West Milton village council held a special work session at the Milton-Union Library Tuesday, Oct. 22, showing support for the renewal of a 0.7-mill library levy that will appear on the ballot this Nov. 5.

“We really need it, or we’d have to change our operation,” library fiscal officer Marjorie Coate said during the meeting. “Our other main source of funding is the state public library local government fund. We’ve been slashed repeatedly, and that’s why we had to seek the levy in the first place.”

“We’re here tonight because we want everybody to know that we’re supporting you, and we support this levy,” Mayor Anthony Miller said. “We want to see you continue to do outstanding programs.”

“We’ve used this library our whole lives,” council member Don Dohrman said. “It truly is an asset.”

Council members also saw a presentation on approximately $100,000 worth of renovations currently underway at the library, funded by a recent donation from the estate of longtime library board member JoAnn Osborne. New LED lighting has been installed throughout the library; painting, new furniture and other changes will be made in the adult, teen and children’s areas. A reading nook, sensory wall, kitchen, puppet theater and other educational items will be added to the children’s room.

“We are beyond grateful,” children’s librarian Wendy Heisey said. “Ms. Osborne gave her entire estate to the Milton-Union Public Library upon her passing. Ms. Osborne’s family requested that the funds go towards renovations in the children’s room and also throughout the library for items that would be seen and used, rather than absorbed into the general fund of the library.”

The children’s room will close down for approximately five days for the renovations, which should be completed before the library’s Christmas open house in December.

In other business, council members also discussed the village’s sludge-hauling contract and a recent charge for wastewater/sewage disposal that went over-budget and requires council approval. Sludge had to be removed from equipment at the village’s sewage treatment plant, and the final cost of $75,832.50 exceeded the original estimate.

“That was a price we weren’t expecting,” municipal manager Matt Kline said. “We didn’t realize how much they were going to be taking out, in volume.”

The village paid 14 cents per gallon to have the sludge hauled out; the next best price would have been 94 cents per gallon from another service provider. “We hauled about 475,500 gallons total,” service director Ben Herron said. “We would have paid $457,440.”

Council members also discussed some upcoming re-appropriations to the 2019 budget, including adjustments due to income tax revenues and other unpredictable factors. Council will introduce legislation to approve the changes at their next meeting.

“We had an unusual year,” finance director Jill Grise said of the income taxes. “We’re getting a lot more returned payments than expected.”

Council also discussed the village’s 2020 budget, which will be voted on in December. Major expenses in the budget include the Ludlow Falls sewer project, and the purchase of a police cruiser and replacement oxygen tanks for the fire department.

“That’s quite a few tanks,” Kline said. “The whole thing is approximately $150,000. There are financing options; the tanks are good for around 15 years.”

Council members also discussed issues surrounding the retirement of banners in the Hometown Heroes program. The village is currently out of room for new banners, and it took workers two full days to hang all of the existing banners the last time they were put up. The banners currently occupy approximately four miles worth of poles.

“There is a retirement ceremony at Hoffman Church in November,” Kline said. “It’s for those banners that were retired this year.”

Several possible solutions have been suggested, including limiting the time banners are displayed to five years each or keeping photos of retired banners to be displayed as a collection. Council will discuss the issue again in November.

Village council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Beggar’s night will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31; the West Milton Rotary Club will also offer hotdogs, apple cider and a costume contest from 4-6 p.m.