Economic development discussed at Piqua City Commission meeting


By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today



Proclamations issued

Mayor Kris Lee began the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening with a proclamation about Catholic Schools Week, proclaiming Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 as Celebrating Catholic Schools Week in the city of Piqua.

“The presence of a Catholic school in our community has proven to be an additional amenity and incentive in the economic development of the city of Piqua, ” Lee said about Piqua Catholic School, which he added is accredited by the Ohio Catholic Accrediting Association. He said Piqua Catholic School’s students “consistently rank above average in national testing.”

“The school has open enrollment and welcomes students from other communities and other religions,” Lee said, adding the “environment at Piqua Catholic School affords each child personal attention and promotes individual growth, love, and self-discipline.”

Following Lee’s proclamation, two local residents, Darlene and Barton Lewis of Piqua, issued a proclamation of their own to Lee in recognition of Lee becoming mayor and becoming the first African-American mayor.

“We’re just elated to know that Kris, here, is our mayor,” Darlene said. She then read an excerpt from TIME magazine’s special edition of “Nelson Mandela: A Hero’s Journey,” which described Mandela getting to know his guards in prison and regarding them as “fellow victims of apartheid.” The excerpt Darlene read ended with, “He believed the only possibility for a future reconciliation between the races in South Africa would come through working with his oppressors.”

“We are just so proud of Kris Lee, and we know that he has gone through a lot that he is now standing forth and just showing what he can do,” Darlene said. Darlene and Barton Lewis then presented Lee with a framed photograph of Lee becoming the mayor of Piqua in recognition of Lee’s accomplishment in becoming mayor.

“You are our hero,” Darlene said.

PIQUA — Various items of legislation prompted discussions of economic development during Tuesday’s Piqua City Commission meeting.

The commission also held its second reading of an ordinance regarding the street improvements to extend Scarbrough Drive approximately 390 feet, which would be funded through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement and state grant funding.

In addition to connecting with IDC Spring’s $2.3 million building expansion, Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing said it opens up an additional 10 acres of land available for industrial development activity.

The TIF agreement would reimburse the local city fund sources originally used to finance the street improvements. The Ohio Jobs and Commerce grant would provide $75,000 in funding, and the TIF would fund approximately $213,390.

As part of the TIF agreement, the city would use property taxes from the increased valuation of IDC Spring’s expansion in order to pay back the city. Specifically, the ordinance before the commission would allow the city to grant a 75 percent exemption from real property taxation for a period of 10 years for the improvement to the site of IDC Spring’s improvements, 9200 N. Country Club Road, Piqua, and charge service payments in lieu of taxes in the same amount as the real property taxes that would have been charged.

Through the grant and the TIF agreement, the project would ultimately result in a zero net expense to the city. The cost for the project is expected to break down as $34,140 for professional design services; $228,250 for construction; and $25,000 for resurfacing.

A lease agreement with NKTelco for use of a portion of the R.M. Davis Water Tower site also prompted additional discussions on economic development. The lease agreement with NKTelco, which was approved, will allow a telecommunications utility hut to be installed on the property to support the company’s extension of their fiber network. NKTelco will provide an annual rent of $1,000 to the city, as well as extend the city of Piqua’s fiber network to the R.M. Davis Water Tower at no cost to the city.

Bill Jaqua of Piqua asked if the city had received a return on its initial investment in this fiber network. City Manager Gary Huff said NKTelco is currently building their network to reach local business and that payoff will come as new businesses come to Piqua and utilize the fiber network.

“It takes awhile to build it out,” Huff said.

“And if it’s in place, then we can attract businesses and industries here,” Mayor Kris Lee said.

“I think you guys can make that argument all day long but it doesn’t take 10 years to develop those kinds of systems,” Jaqua said. “It’s all supply and demand driven. If the demand is there, the supply is (going to) suck it up, and that’s not happening here at the city of Piqua.”

Commissioner Kazy Hinds said she recently attended a mock site visit with JobsOhio with other city officials and local business leaders. She and Schmiesing both said JobsOhio responded positively in regard to the city’s available utility infrastructure, including the fiber network and water and wastewater amenities to attract businesses to come to Piqua. Schmiesing said where the city does not do well is having available land for large businesses to locate.

“If we don’t have property owners with property that are willing to engage in the development activity, then it’s very difficult to be competitive when you’re talking with national site selectors who are looking at sites all across the nation,” Schmiesing said. He said when the site selectors bring requests to the state of Ohio and the state of Ohio sends a request for information to the city of Piqua, “we can respond very well in the boxes that are asking about infrastructure.”

Schmiesing said the city can tell site selectors the city has “incredibly reliable electric,” services like its fiber network, and excess capacity on the water and wastewater treatment plants, but they are unable to be responsive when site selectors are asking for properties with 30, 50, or even 100 acres of available land to purchase.

“If you don’t have a property owner who has committed to a sale price in writing that indicates the property is available and can be acquired, you’re out of the game. They simply move on to the next,” Schmiesing said.

Additional items approved

The commission also approved emergency ordinances in reference to city employees and a resolution to replat lots north of Wood Street for the Wood Street apartments, as well as to vacate a portion of alley right-of-way and to dedicate a new public right-of-way. The commission waived the three-reading rule on those ordinances.

The commission then authorized the purchase of hot and cold asphalt mix for 2020 with the primary supplier being Barrett Paving Materials, Inc., and the secondary supplier being Valley Asphalt Corp. The total budget for asphalt mix for 2020 is $300,000.

Following that, the commission approved collective bargaining agreements for three unions within the city of Piqua’s staff, approving 2.5 percent wage increases for employees in the city’s fire and police departments.

The commission first held an executive session at the start of its meeting to prepare for and review negotiations on compensation or other terms and conditions of employment for city personnel. The commission then approved resolutions regarding collective bargaining agreements with Local Union 252, International Association of Firefighters; the Fraternal Order of Police; and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Each of those unions include firefighter officers, firefighter-paramedics, police officers. The wage increases are for each year of the collective bargaining agreement between 2020 and 2022.

The city is still in negotiations with an additional bargaining unit, AFSCME, which represents many public service employees, such as with the city’s public works, water, wastewater, and other similar departments. Wage increases for the city’s non-union employees have not yet come before the commission.

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Proclamations issued

Mayor Kris Lee began the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening with a proclamation about Catholic Schools Week, proclaiming Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 as Celebrating Catholic Schools Week in the city of Piqua.

“The presence of a Catholic school in our community has proven to be an additional amenity and incentive in the economic development of the city of Piqua, ” Lee said about Piqua Catholic School, which he added is accredited by the Ohio Catholic Accrediting Association. He said Piqua Catholic School’s students “consistently rank above average in national testing.”

“The school has open enrollment and welcomes students from other communities and other religions,” Lee said, adding the “environment at Piqua Catholic School affords each child personal attention and promotes individual growth, love, and self-discipline.”

Following Lee’s proclamation, two local residents, Darlene and Barton Lewis of Piqua, issued a proclamation of their own to Lee in recognition of Lee becoming mayor and becoming the first African-American mayor.

“We’re just elated to know that Kris, here, is our mayor,” Darlene said. She then read an excerpt from TIME magazine’s special edition of “Nelson Mandela: A Hero’s Journey,” which described Mandela getting to know his guards in prison and regarding them as “fellow victims of apartheid.” The excerpt Darlene read ended with, “He believed the only possibility for a future reconciliation between the races in South Africa would come through working with his oppressors.”

“We are just so proud of Kris Lee, and we know that he has gone through a lot that he is now standing forth and just showing what he can do,” Darlene said. Darlene and Barton Lewis then presented Lee with a framed photograph of Lee becoming the mayor of Piqua in recognition of Lee’s accomplishment in becoming mayor.

“You are our hero,” Darlene said.

Reach the writer at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach the writer at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.