City council hears more support and opposition on DORA

Members of the public showed up at the Tiffin City Council meeting Tuesday night to speak again on the possibility of the creation of a downtown outdoor refresment area in downtown Tiffin. Multiple members of the public spoke during the open oral communications section of the meeting.

Nancy Bailey of Tiffin stated her issues with the idea of the DORA: “I’m concerned about DORA, I haven’t talked about one person yet who think it’s a good idea,” she said.

“I don’t see the benefit of turning our sidewalks into an extension of the bars. And I think it’s counterproductive to what Tiffin and Seneca County are doing to help people with addiction problems. It seems counterproductive to put this out on the streets.”

Ken Jones of Tiffin, who spoke at public hearing on the DORA on Feb. 4, returned to Council to speak again Tuesday.

“When I first heard about the DORA, I was troubled to hear about the 11a.m. start time on Saturdays,” Jones said.

“Since then, I’ve attempted to communicate with 11 cities in Ohio that have a DORA program,” he added. “I made telephone or email contact with nine of them. Three cities were event-only. Five started at noon. Three started at 9 a.m. I’ve learned there have been no issues with the people in these communities,” he said.

“I also spoke with an officer at one city, and I heard no issues from him either. I still think 11a.m. is too soon to start on Saturdays, but I don’t want to be the one to stand in the way of progress,” he said.

The ordinance that would allow the city of Tiffin to create a DORA in the downtown area remained tabled at the meeting Tuesday night. This was done so the state-mandated amount of time could pass before council is allowed to vote on the legislation.

Council is expected to vote on the DORA ordinance during the first meeting in March, which is to take place March 4.

During his report Tuesday night, Mayor Aaron Montz announced that Tiffin had been nationally accredited as a Main Street Community for the third consecutive year.

“I want to thank the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership, Downtown Planner Amy Reinhart, and Tiffin Tomorrow in part for their hard work,” he said.

The mayor also said that the annual meeting of the Seneca Regional Planning Commission is to be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bettsville Legion.

Brian Burke, a representative from the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Plant Health Division, also spoke during the mayor’s report about the ongoing gypsy moth problem in Tiffin and what the Department of Agriculture will continue to do to combat it.

“We will continue to use traps and certified-organic products in 2019,” he said.

Burke added that the Department of Agriculture “sends out letters to residents in the affected areas beforehand, and we put up signs the day before we spray. Our office is also available by phone for information.”

Councilman Steve Lepard raised concerns he’d heard from residents in his ward, which is within one of the main spraying areas. “The questions that people are asking are ‘is it going to hurt me when I’m out for a walk, or my dogs, or peel the paint off of my car?'”

Burke responded by saying that the insecticide “leaves little specks on the windshield of cars, but it won’t hurt people or animals.”

“The product we use now is an oil, so if it’s allowed to dry, it can be hard to get off. But if it’s removed immediately, it comes off very easily,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will host a public information session about the upcoming plans for combating the gypsy moth in the City Hall Training Room Thursday at 6 p.m.

Regarding the Safe Routes to School Program, Council suspended the rules and passed two ordinances that authorize the mayor to prepare and submit an application for Tiffin to receive federal funds through the program, administered by the State of Ohio’s Department of Transportation. If awarded, the mayor and the city plan to use these funds to make infrastructural improvements for various transportation activities within Tiffin City Schools and Calvert Catholic Schools. Operation Lifesaver, Safety City, Bike Rodeo, and Bike to School are programs which are also eligible to receive federal funding through the Safe Routes to School Program.

“This is a program in which 100 percent of the funds are received from the state, and no local funds go into these projects,” the mayor said.

In public services news, council approved an ordinance to increase the EMS billable mileage rate and also declared an emergency. The increase will be 2.3 percent, raising the cost from $13.97 to $14.29 per mile in an ambulance. The rate was set by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Council also suspended the rules and approved an ordinance to amend the 2019 budget to appropriate $31,288.50 from the Capital Improvement Fund and $20,859 from the Sewer Fund to pay for new finance software from Software Solutions, Inc., a purchase that Council previously approved in August 2018.

Second readings were heard on ordinances to amend the 2019 budget for the purposes of returning leftover funds from two 2005 CHIP grants that were never used to the state of Ohio, $1,370 from one grant and $1,501.86 from the other, and to appropriate a donation of $500 from Tiffin Westgate Ltd. to the city’s K-9 unit.

Council also heard second reading on an amendment to the city pay schedule to increase the pay rate for the Payroll/Pension Benefits Manager position.

In budget amendment news, first reading was heard on an ordinance to amend the 2019 budget to include two donations by Phyllis Capucini, $50 to the Tiffin Police Department and another $50 to the Tiffin Fire Rescue Department.

The next city council meeting will be March 4 at 7:45 p.m. with a committee of the whole meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. City Council meetings will continue to be held at the council’s temporary meeting location at 928 W. Market Street in Tiffin.