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2008 in review

 

In addition to monthly reports presented in the "Villager," Mayor Eisentrout has requested that the various Village departments provide annual wrap-ups. Here is a summary of 2008 ...

 

clerk-treasurer

By Suzanne Coulter, Clerk-Treasurer ... It is hard to believe another year has gone by in the Clerk/Treasurer's Office. I cannot believe I have been doing this job now for 11 years. I have enjoyed each year and thank you, the residents, for voting to keep me here this long.
2008 was a strong year for Minerva Park. We were able to accomplish a lot of good while continuing to watch our bottom line.

The General Fund carry-over balance into 2009 was $309,204.23, which is $108,667.85 higher than the carry-over balance from 2007 to 2008 ($200,536.38). This is attributable to many factors.

MP received a large inheritance check from Franklin County in 2008, but we know not to expect the same in 2009 because large inheritance receipts are unusual. Our Minerva Park 1% Income Tax fared well in 2008, bringing in $248,297.56. This is still a bit under the $265,000 per year predicted by the Regional Income Tax Agency. I believe this is because there are still some residents who have not filed their Minerva Park Income Taxes for 2005, 2006, and 2007! These residents have been notified of their oversight, and our revenues should increase this year. Property taxes remained consistent with no drop in collected revenue, even with the ills of the housing market. Minerva Park seems to be weathering the downturn well with housing prices remaining stronger than in other areas of the city. The predictions from Franklin County for our property tax collections for 2009 remain pretty much the same, but I will continue to keep an ever watchful eye on it.

On the expense side, we again were very careful to monitor what the Village spent in 2008, trying to get the most bang for our tax buck. The change in expenses for 2008 in the General Fund was lower than 2007 expenditures by $10,600.56. As you can see, each department within the Village government was watching how they spent your tax dollars.

The Police continue to do a great job with little waste. A new car was purchased this year as part of our ongoing 3-year replacement cycle. Chief Hillard again was able to procure a grant for updated MDTs. These are the computers inside each police car that allow an officer to research information on a car and driver by entering the license plate number. MADD once again honored our men in black as one of the top forces in the State for DUI enforcement. And Officer Beach continued his great work at Hawthorne Elementary with the kids. Chief Hillard continues to look for other available grants for equipment needs in the department.

The "volunteer" EMS department also had a good year. Chief Hoechstetter and his crews continued their great work at having as many crews on during the year as possible and holding down their costs for supplies and equipment. The Village expenses for them for Worker's Compensation and Unemployment increased because we were required to have one paid paramedic on each shift in 2008.

The Village saw big changes at the pool this year. The office staff did a great job at implementing newly required accounting and entrance reporting by the State Auditor's Office. Our family memberships increased from 262 to 273. Tom Shannon keeps the place ship-shape and under cost whenever there was maintenance needed. Manager John Friedel had his best crew of lifeguards and kept us all safe this summer. Revenues increased by $3,002.06 from $68,588.59 in 2007 to $71,590.65 in 2008. We hope to implement a new software package that will help the office staff this year keep track of membership entries and walk-ins; it can send e-mails to members about upcoming events. The MPCA Pool Committee did a wonderful job again with parties. I attended Family Fun Night and the Wine & Cheese Night, and fun was had by all.

The Village applied for several this year, as always. The MDT grant by Chief Hillard, which the Village received. An OPWC grant totaling $329,527 to mill & fill most of the rest of the Village streets - we have not heard yet on this. If we do not get this grant through OPWC, we hope to apply for some of the stimulus money to get the project done this year. An ODNR grant that the Mayor worked on many hard hours - received for $37,800. This project will be finished before the pool season this year. We hope to continue our streak of receiving at least one grant a year in 2009. Sara Schumacher, resident, who was hired this year to assist the Mayor and my office with many things, will be searching in 2009 for even more grants for the Village to apply for and hopefully receive.

2009 and beyond will no doubt bring its own challenges to the Village, and my office will keep on top of any and all changes regarding our fiscal health. The Village will continue to try to provide all residents with the services we have become accustomed to, while continuing to watch how much they cost. Minerva Park continues to be a jewel in the rough in Columbus, and I hope to help to keep it that way as your Treasurer and a fellow resident.

 

police department

By Chief Bobbie Hillard ... Because of the high costs of continuing to maintain used police cruisers, the Village replaced one of our used cruisers with a new 2009 Ford Crown Victoria. The $21,700 is anticipated to more than offset the costs of repairs to another used cruiser.

For the third year in a row, the MP Police Department will receive an Award of Excellence from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for its campaigns in 2008. The award is given in recognition of our continued commitment to removing drunk drivers off our roadways.

The Dept also received a Certificate of Merit from Franklin County for continued participation on and support of the DUI Task Force.

And for participation in various State of Ohio projects (Over the Limit Under Arrest and DUI enforcement), the dept. received a laser radar unit (valued at $2,500) and an opportunity to receive two more radar units in 2009.

We submitted a grant application for three new Mobile Data Computers, but have not heard word yet.

Through our continued community efforts, we had an opportunity to win a new cruiser at the Law Enforcement Expo - but we didn’t. It’s not official yet, but we will have another opportunity to win a new cruiser at the 2009 Expo.

Our Training Sergeant, Sgt. Jim Meade, will be returning home again from Iraq in March.
Your Police Department continues its community outreach efforts and collaboration with area agencies to help keep our Village safe. Our 2008 statistics are as follows:

Dispatched runs 984
Nondispatched runs 462
Assist area agencies 408
Misdemeanor arrests 143
Felony arrests 16
9-1-1 calls 22
Animal complaints 25
Assaults 13
Auto thefts 1
Breaking & entering false alarm 25
Breaking & entering 4
Burglaries 11
Burglary in progress false alarm 12
Criminal damaging 7
Criminal mischief 2
Deaths 3
Domestic disputes or violence 9
Homicides 0
Menacing 7
Missing people 5
Motorist assists 57
Passing bad checks 2
Receiving stolen property 4
Robberies 1
Sex offenses 1
Stolen vehicle recoveries 1
Suicides 1
Suicide attempts 1
Suspicious people 126
Suspicious vehicles 93
Telephone harassment 5
Thefts 33
Traffic citations 1,311
Traffic warning citations 23
Trespassing 7
Vandalism 3

 

fire department - ems

By Chief Rick Hoechstetter ... The Fire Department responded to 285 runs in 2008 and treated 297 patients. Within the 2008 data, 9% of the calls originated from an address in Minerva Park, 19% from Blendon Township, 66% from Columbus, and 6% from Westerville other areas.

Members served a total of 5,558 hours in 2008. Sixty-four percent of this total represents paid hours; the rest is volunteer time. We have been operating in compliance with the Franklin County Fire Chief's Association's Standard Operating Policy 7-28 for a year and a half, which requires all Advanced Life Support vehicles have, at a minimum, two part- or full-time paid paramedics on duty. The remaining members of each crew are volunteers. The 5% increase in time served this year is a direct result of the efforts that the entire membership has made to make this new employment structure work. I would like to express my appreciation to Mayor Lynn Eisentrout, Clerk/Treasurer Suzanne Coulter, Council President Pam Park-Curry, and Council for their support. Norm Jones worked the most paid hours as a medic, and Brian Bates volunteered the most hours in 2008.

The Fire Department did not make any major capital expenditures this year. Last year's acquisitions were enough to last for a few years, although we did replace the dispatching and public address hardware. The equipment was provided by the Columbus Fire Communications Department and greatly enhances the potential use of the system. It includes both a traditional 800 Mz radio link with the Columbus Fire Alarm office and has the capacity to support a 900 Mz data channel. The Columbus Fire Communications Office plans to implement a new program on the data channel to provide detailed maps to call locations and secure communications in the near future.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to former Lt. Wayne Miller for his service as the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) officer for the past 7 years and welcome Lt. Jon Packer to the position. Wayne consistently monitored compliance in the run reports with our Region V protocols and resolved all issues in a timely manner. Jon brings a wealth of experience to the position with his many years as a paramedic. He is also Adjunct Professor of EMS at Columbus State Community College. Thank you very much, Wayne, and welcome to Jon.

The number of fire code violations we pursued in 2008 increased slightly because of change in State policies. The Ohio State Fire Marshall’s office has divested primary compliance monitoring responsibility to local jurisdictions so we pursued some cases this year that could have been monitored by the State Fire Marshall’s Office in the past. The most serious cases in 2008 involved the placing of the boiler in the U.S. Cleaners facility at 5424 Cleveland Avenue beyond use and bringing the Anderson strip mall into full compliance. In the category of ongoing issues, to date, no further action has been taken to remediate the contamination issues involved in the removal of the fuel tanks from the Payless QuickStop Gas Station property at 5620 Cleveland Avenue. The current step (Tier I) was supposed to have been completed in October 2008. Efforts are underway to address this lapse. I wish to recognize Fire Inspector Tom McClannahan for his exemplary efforts this year, with the assistance of Assistant Chief Vern Ord of the Ohio Fire Marshall’s Office of Bureau of Underground Cisterns and Tanks Regulations (BUSTR).

The 2008 run data are as follows:

Illness 93
Injury 80
Vehicle-related 45
Difficulty breathing 31
Chest pain 19
Fire 7
Other 22

 

zoning

By Arlene Stuart, Zoning Clerk ... With spring approaching and various property improvements looming, I’d like to remind you about the permitting process. Any project that requires zoning approval must be reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Commission that meets on the first Thursday of each month. If you are planning renovations, call early to inquire about the application process. Below are the deadlines for P&Z meeting dates (basically the third Wednesday before the meeting):

by March 18 for April 2
by April 15 for May 7
by May 20 for June 4
by June 17 for July 2
by July 15 for August 6
by August 19 for September 9
by September 16 for October 1


Garage Sales - If you are going to host a private garage sale, stop by the Community Building to pay your $7 permit fee. Garage sale signs can be erected out of the right-of-way at your property’s main entrance – they cannot be tacked to telephone poles, trees, traffic signs, or any Village monument. Knowing when your sale is scheduled helps our Police Department when patrolling the Village and helps you if an adverse situation arises. The official MP community garage sale will be held in August 2009.

Permits in 2008 (totalling $1,137) included:

Block party 1
Concrete work 3
Deck 1
Electrical 2
Fence 7
Garage sale 1
Handicapped ramp 1
Home business 2
Plumbing 8
Pool 1
Shed 4
Sign 2
Zoning variance 2

Learn more at minervapark.org/zoning/.

 

zoning volations

By Dick Busick, Code Enforcement Officer ... During 2008, there were 36 violations written and 11 citations into Mayor’s Court, for a total of 48 notifications with several cases sent to Franklin County Environmental Court. This was similar to the 46 notifications sent in 2007. Many more issues were resolved via personal contact with cooperative residents. Of those receiving violation notices, 33% were for trailer-truck-automobile code infractions, 11% involved high grass or weeds, and 60% of the citation cases involved trash or debris in yards.

In 2009, we will continue to apply the relatively new Building Maintenance Code to the long-term accumulation of trash around homes, which continues to be a problem generally restricted a handful of residences. We will also monitor the use of trash dumpsters and storage pods, which are permitted only for a limited duration.

Please continue your own excellent efforts to keep our Village looking good. Because of the several severe storms we have experienced recently, some attention needs to be paid to the resulting tree debris. We certainly would not want welcome spring, an especially pleasant time in our Village, with these problems unresolved. When code violations occur, we try to resolve the issues first by personal contact and then by violations notices that establish relatively short resolution deadlines. Citations into Mayor’s Court are issued only after these efforts are unsuccessful. We want Minerva Park to continue in its tradition of being a unique area where we are all proud of our unique environment.

 

mp community association

By Bob Gale, MPCA President ... The MPCA continues to have steady membership of Village residents with 77% of Village households as dues-paying members as of December 2008. In 2008, the MCPA hosted more than 20 activities paid for by your $15 MPCA dues, advertising in The Villager newsletter and annual Resident Directory, the annual Garage Sale, and in-kind donations: Garden Awards, Garden Tours, MinervaFlora beautification, Duck Award for Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Garage Sale, Children's Halloween Party, greetings from the Sunshine Committee, Lake Clean-ups, Newcomers Committee welcome to new residents, Children's Easter Egg Hunt, Founders Day, Children's Christmas Party, Publicity Committee, Candidates Night, Northland Community Council participation, Resident Directory, Festival of Lights, Christmas Carriage Rides, Family Nights at the pool, Adult Wine & Cheese events at the pool, the Street Reps, and The Villager Newsletter.

The Duck Award was presented to David Way for his work with organizing Lake Cleanups, starting a Children's Safety Day, spearheading a clean-up and rehab of the Maplewood playground, and his work with other activities of the MPCA.

As you can see, the MPCA was busy in 2008, and we expect to continue our activities at the same pace in 2009. We need volunteers to do these activities. Many thanks go to current members of the MPCA board (minervapark.org/mpca/board.htm) and all the Street Reps!

 

mayor’s office

By Mayor Lynn Eisentrout ... Well, 2008 certainly has flown by. It was a year of steadily pursuing larger ongoing projects, grant funding, meetings with neighborhood and business organizations, and saying good-bye to those who served our Village.

In January, I attended the Northland Area Business Association Watch Meeting to lend our support to their crime-fighting efforts. The formation of this group was a direct result of the rash of break-ins and robberies of businesses in the Northland area.

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) designated us a Smart Community for our outstanding recycling and litter-prevention efforts.

We received notification from the Ohio Department of Agriculture that our Gypsy Moth infestation has been eradicated. To date, there have been no additional problems.

After more than 25 years of service to our Village, 30-year resident Don Champney retired as Chairman of the Finance Committee and Council person. Don later returned as the representative from the MPCA to the Northland Community Council.

In March, we received the good news that we were approved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to receive $37,800 in grant money for pool improvements. Sadly, March was the same month that we lost two past mayors — Jack Murray and Buzz Cockerell died March 17 and 24, respectively ... this after losing Hugo Wenzel in January. Hugo was our longest-serving mayor, from 1957-1975, Buzz served from 1980-1987, and Jack served from 1993-2003.

I again met with the manager from the ODNR Division of Water and Dam Safety concerning our earthen dam and their mandate to remove the trees from the dam area. I then met with the Ohio Water Development Authority to explore funding opportunities for this project. I found that our type of project would be eligible for a 15-year loan at 4.95% (we would receive .5% off because we have been mandated by ODNR to come into compliance). All of the expenses that we have incurred thus far (about $13,000) would be included in the loan application.

After several communications with the Ohio Public Works Commission, we submitted our 2008 Street Repair Project to the Small Government Division.

Along with other mayors, I had the opportunity in April to present testimony in opposition to House Bill 154 before the House Judiciary Committee. HB 154 was the bill introduced by then Representative Larry Wolpert to abolish mayors courts. Evidently, our efforts paid off because the bill never made it to the full Senate for a vote.

We received word that same month that our 2008 Street Repair Project application was not approved.

September proved to be memorable, as we and the rest of Ohio endured the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Winds struck with a vengeance, leaving many uprooted trees, downed wires, and homes without electricity for days.

We submitted an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for funding the 2009 Street Repair Project (same project, new name) – now a $329,527 mill-and-fill project for Alder Vista Drive, East Shore Drive, Kerrwood Drive, Maplewood Drive, Berry Lane Court, East Shore Court, and North Lake Court.

As a follow-up to the wind storm, Clerk-Treasurer Suzanne Coulter and I met several times in October and November with FEMA and insurance representatives to recover the expenses incurred by the Village through our clean-up efforts.

In an effort to collect delinquent income taxes, we held our first Subpoena Program with the Regional Income Tax Agency on October 28. Subpoenas were sent to 199 residents (at an administrative cost of $8 per subpoena) indicating that about one-third of our residents have not paid their 2005, 2006, or 2007 income taxes or, in some cases, all three years.

Along with a few Columbus officials and Northland representatives, I met with the liaison from the Nassimi Company (the owners of the Northland Plaza) to discuss the lack of tenants, the rash of break-ins of the unoccupied units, and what assistance we could offer them.

As expected, we heard in December that our 2009 Street Repair Project application to OPWC did not receive approval in the first round of funding and was referred to the Small Government Division for further consideration.

Many thanks to you all for your support these past four years. We have accomplished a great deal, although we have much more to do. To name a few, we must now turn our attention to an aging lake system, the long-neglected ravine areas, eroding shorelines, and streets sorely in need of repair after a bad winter.

In these tough economic times, we are more mindful than ever to spend your tax dollars wisely and to explore every funding opportunity we possibly can.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints, please contact me.

Mayor Lynn Eisentrout

contact...

Village of Minerva Park
2829 Minerva Lake Road
Columbus OH 43231
614.882.5743
614.899.1296 fax
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