By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — City Council members held committee meetings on Monday night to review pending legislation.
The Utilities Committee dealt with the increase of sewer rates to $4.90 per 100 cubic feet of flow. Billing will be converted to monthly rather than quarterly, but meters will still be read quarterly. Residents will get a flat-rate bill the first two months; the third month will reflect an amount based on either actual usage for the quarter or the minimum user amount. The new charge goes into effect April 1 and will be reflected on May statements. It will take three months to convert all city residents to monthly billing. Council gave the legislation approving the increase a second reading during its legislative session.
The Streets and Public Buildings Committee dealt with amending the codified ordinances to reflect a formalized process for appealing parking violations. Creating the appeals process allows the city to tow and boot cars when violators do not pay their parking fines. Law Director Rob Broeren amended the language to state that no new personnel will be hired to handle the appeals process. Council also gave this ordinance a second reading during its legislative session.
Relating to parking issues, Councilwoman Susan Kahrl said she spoke with members of Main Street Mount Vernon (formerly Heritage Centre Association) about downtown parking. “This is a really important issue to the downtown merchants. They really feel it's important to keep a parking enforcement officer, even if it outweighs the salary,” she told council. “They feel as if we must continue to be vigilant.”
She said she believes parking enforcement is a service the city needs to provide, much like the water park.
Council passed the following legislation as emergencies
*Authorizing the safety-service director to enter into a contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation for paving portions of Ohio 13 on the south side of the city. The city's cost will be $14,000; paving is scheduled for ODOT's fiscal year 2019.
*Authorizing the safety-service director to buy a backhoe for the street department; the approximate cost is $115,000.
*Appointing Jim Sulzer as an alternate member of the Board of Zoning Appeals
*Authorizing the safety-service director to enter into a contract with Specialty Outdoor Services for tree removal on Gambier Street, between Division Street and Center Run, and Wooster Road at a cost of $45,000. Through the tree inventory completed last year, the city identified about 500 trees that need to be removed. The $45,000 was donated to the city by the Ariel Foundation.
*Amended the city's codified ordinances to incorporate changes stemming from the Ohio Revised Code.
Jerry Clinger of the Parks and Recreation Department told council of some changes in store at Hiawatha Water Park for 2017.
Steve Oster of Knox County DD gave a brief overview of services the department provides. Ann Thomas, DD advocate, presented a poster of DD advocate Danielle Brown to Bruce Hawkins, council president, in recognition of National Disabilities Month.
Brianna Cooper-Risser, director of Main Street Mount Vernon, introduced herself to council and gave a brief overview of some the upcoming activities in the downtown area.