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 2010 ...
By Suzanne Coulter, Clerk-Treasurer ... It is hard to believe that I have been in this job for 13 years already. A lot has changed since I first began in 1998 – most of them good – but my job as Clerk-Treasurer definitely has become more challenging.
The Human Resources duties have increased the most during the last two years with lots of paperwork to fill out for Worker's Compensation and for the different types of insurance that the Village has – health, life, dental, vision, and general liability. But by my putting time and effort into each of these areas, Village taxpayers have been saved $250,000 during the past two years and into the next three years.
Although the Village is obligated to honor public records requests and continues to do so, during the last two years, the number of public records requests have become an undue burden on the Village. The Clerk-Treasurer's office alone has spent more than 25 hours answering public records requests – in addition to the many hours spent by the Mayor's Assistant and the Mayor. This costs taxpayer money but more importantly has prevented us from devoting time to other responsibilities or projects. The many hours devoted to public records requests could have been spent seeking grant money to build a new community building.
On the other hand, it has been a pleasure to work with so many people who really care about this Village and do a lot of work for not a lot of pay. I was proud to work with the Mayor on two great projects last year – the 2010 street project and the 2010 pool project. I admire the hard work she puts into all of the grant applications she submits for the Village. And it has been a lot of fun to support the Community Association and MPCA President Lisa Craddock Thitoff in all the great activities they do each year. A big thanks to Lisa and to Dick Busick for all of their hard work around the Community Building and in all of the Village lands to keep the Village beautiful and the costs down. Mayor's Assistant, Zoning Clerk, Deputy Clerk of Courts Sara Schumacher and Clerk of Courts Christy Williamson have helped the Village and my department get a lot accomplished in 2010 and have saved taxpayer dollars by agreeing to pick up the slack and consolidate three jobs into two (at an estimated savings of appx. $13,000 annually).
Now to some specifics. The General Fund carryover balance for 2010 was $322,287.18. This is up from the carryover balance for 2009 of $265,746.80, mostly due to a large estate tax check received in October but also due to each department working to keep their expenses down during 2010.
Municipal Income Tax collections were strong this year, but increased only by $2,000 from 2009. I believe that the Income Tax has leveled out at the current amount and will not increase much each year.
If you have watched the news since the new Governor's election, you have learned about two proposals that most likely will adversely affect Minerva Park's General Fund. (1) The inheritance tax may be eliminated. In 2010, Minerva Park received an unusually high inheritance tax of $230,793.71. Although it is best practices to never budget much for estate revenue, any surprise estate revenue received has always helped Minerva Park keep property tax rates down. (2) The Local Government Fund may be eliminated. This would mean a loss in revenue to the Village of approximately $78,000 annually. The Village has not asked the residents for new tax dollars since 2004, but if these revenue sources are eliminated, the Council will have to look at both spending cuts and/or other revenue streams.
Police: The Police Department continued in 2010 doing a great job holding down their operating costs. One new cruiser was purchased in 2010, and each officer received a new custom fit bullet-resistant vest. I look forward to working with our new Police Chief Kim Nuesse because she is a recognized expert in police department budgets.
Pool: The pool had another great summer in 2010. They again were able to end the season in the black with a profit of $4,490.17, which is rare for most municipal pools.
Mayor Eisentrout again was able to procure an ODNR grant to continue the next phase of pool renovations. There were plenty of great parties at the pool this past summer, and pool maintenance and land supervisor Tom Shannon made a great suggestion of having a Ohio State tailgating party at the end of the 2011 pool season. Manager John Friedel again ran the pool flawlessly in 2010, and the lifeguards and office workers did a wonderful job.
Streets: The 2010 Street Project was another great success from the great efforts of the Mayor and Village Engineer Mike Flickinger. The project came in under budget by $58,000 and was completed on time. The Mayor hopes to apply for another OPWC grant-loan again in 2011 to finish up our major street projects in the Park Lane and Jordan Road area. Thanks to Mayor Eisentrout, by the end of 2012, all Village streets will have been revitalized. With that, the Village will have only normal street upkeep for several years after the 2012 project.
Bureau of Workers Compensation: For 2010, the Village again was able to join the Ohio Municipal League group program for workers compensation because the Village has worked diligently at implementing a successful return-to-work program. This means that, in 2011, the Village will save appx. $44,000 each year for five years.
2011 will continue to hold its challenges for the Village because of the economy, but with each department continuing to watch its expenses and applying for grants, I have no doubt the Village can maintain the great fiscal health we have enjoyed for a long while. Minerva Park continues to be a great place to live, and it has been an honor for me to serve as your Clerk-Treasurer for the last 13 years. Remember to volunteer this year for one of the many great Community Association efforts.
|Income Tax (1%, 50% credit)||$290,203|
By Chief Kim Nuesse ... The Police Department continued its cruiser rotation program, with the new cruiser allocated for 2010 arriving in January. We have found that purchasing new cruisers helps save the Village money because maintenance costs are held to a minimum and the Village can get more years of use before having to trade in.
The Police Department continued its community outreach program, with our officers again being recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for participating in the DUI Program. For the third year in a row, the department was recognized at the 2010 Westerville Cops ‘n’ Kids, receiving 1st place in Kid’s Choice and 2nd place in the Cruiser competition. At the 2010 Franklin County Fair Cops 'n' Kids, the department received 3rd place in the Cruiser Contest. November and December brought the annual Cops for Kids toy drive. Additionally, the Police Department assisted the MP Fire Department with its File of Life program, designed to provide health information during emergencies when people are unable to speak for themselves. With the Safety Committee and Hawthorne Elementary, the Department began preparations for the May 14, 2011 Children's Safety Day.
Participation in the DUI program resulted in a radar gun being donated to the Village and also made the Department eligible to receive a free cruiser, but alas - again this past year - that was not to be.
In the fall, the Village purchased Mobile Vision in-car cameras for the cruisers at a cost of $5,652, and each officer received new body armor at a cost of $5,701, with existing vests being donated to the Fire Department.
Foot patrols were increased, especially at the earthen dam, to help stem incidences of vandalism.
In August, during the Village Garage Sale, the Department auctioned off confiscated, abandoned, and lost & found items that it had collected during the past year.
Chief Bobbie Hillard retired after nearly 33 years of service to Minerva Park, and Reserve Officers Lt. Jeffrey Hunter and Sgt. James Meade also retired.
In October, the Village contracted with a Public Safety Liaison to assist the Village in hiring a police chief and to consult on matters relating to the Department.
Your Police Department continues its collaboration with area agencies to help keep our Village safe. Here are our 2010 statistics:
|Assist area agencies||323|
|Breaking & entering false alarm||25|
|Breaking & entering||2|
|Burglary in progress false alarm||26|
|Dog running at large||3|
|Domestic disputes or violence||17|
|Obstructing official business||11|
|Passing bad checks||3|
|Possession of drugs||12|
|Possession of drug paraphernalia||8|
|Receiving stolen property||4|
|Stolen vehicle recoveries||6|
|Traffic warning citations||1,096|
By Christy Williamson, Clerk of Courts, and Sara Schumacher, Deputy Clerk of Courts ... 2010 was our first full year of operating under the new Mayor's Court software. That software purchase has proved very beneficial, and we have collected thousands of dollars in unpaid fines this year. We also have hired Capital Recovery Systems to aid us in collecting fines. They have the capability of locating people that we do not, and there is no charge to the Village.
The end of 2010 brought a staff change. Christi Nordman, the Clerk of Courts since 2009, left for a full-time position. Instead of hiring another person to replace Christi, Christy Williamson and Sara Schumacher proposed the idea of "job sharing" and assuming the responsibilities of the Clerk of Courts position together, while simultaneously maintaining their current job responsibilities. This has been a very positive move for the Village. It saves the Village $13,000 a year, we were able to be trained by Christi Nordman together and have accomplished the job sharing transition with success.
The public is invited to attend Mayor's Court, held on every other Tuesday at 5p. Here are the statistics for 2010:
|Number of court cases||328|
|Paid to State of Ohio||$12,284|
|for MP Computer Fund||$1,511|
|for MP General Fund||$48,553|
fire department - ems
By Chief Rick Hoechstetter ... The Fire Department responded to 407 emergency calls in 2010, representing a 24% increase over 2009. Eight percent of the calls came from Minerva Park, 15% from Blendon Township, 71% from Columbus, and 6% came from Westerville and other areas.
Members served a total of 8,287 hours in 2010; 71% of this total were paid medic hours, and the rest was volunteer time. The 10% increase in time served this year is a direct result of the good relationships that have been established with surrounding fire service companies. I would like to recognize the efforts of the entire Department in this important area. I also would like to express the appreciation of our Department to the Mayor and Council for their continued support.
I also would like to recognize the contributions of the officers and members of the Fire Department in the community outreach programs organized this year, including providing food service at the Village Garage Sale in May, holding fire safety programs during Fire Safety week in October at Hawthorne Elementary School, and the roll-out of the File of Life Program, free to Village residents. Please call the Station (882-3375) or if you would like to arrange delivery.
The Fire Department did not make any major capital expenditures this year. The medic vehicle, monitors, radios, and all the rest of the equipment appear to remain in proper working order.
The Columbus Fire Alarm Office recently updated its Computer-Aided Dispatching (CAD) system to include a data channel. This will permit them to include information other than the call data (such as specific route maps or staging information) with each emergency call. Unlike previous upgrades that often have required us to add entirely new equipment, the only change we will need to make with this upgrade will be to replace the wireless modem attached to the mobile data console on the vehicle with a Sprint Air Card. The Nextel rebanding effort (exchanging existing radios for new digital radios in exchange for the rights to our existing 800 MHz bandwidth) is still in the works. The joke going around is that the Nextel Rebanding Program should be complete in a few years and always will be.
Fire inspections continued at the usual pace this year, and there were no major issues to report. We are still waiting for the Bureau of Underground Tanks and Regulations (BUSTR) to issue an administrative order that will require the Payless Quick Stop (5620 Cleveland Avenue) tenants to take the necessary action to remediate the contamination issues that remain following the removal in 2007 of the fuel storage tanks on the property. The Tier I testing, which was supposed to be completed by October, was never done. I wish to recognize Fire Inspector Tom McClannahan again this year for his exemplary efforts.
The 2010 run data are as follows - we are proud to serve the Village:
By Sara Schumacher, Zoning Clerk ... The Planning and Zoning Commission had a wonderful year reviewing many applications in 2010. Several home improvements were sought by residents, and many new businesses opened within the Village's commercial district. The following applications were heard in 2010, totaling $1,155 .
|Building permits (garage)||1|
|Home businesses & occupations||3|
|Plumbing (hot water tanks)||10|
|Signs (commercial business)||7|
|Zoning compliance (commercial)||3|
Note the following schedule for filing applications for hearings before the Planning & Zoning Commission for 2011:
|by March 16||for April 5|
|by April 20||for May 63|
|by May 18||for June 7|
|by June 15||for July 5|
|by July 20||for August 2|
|by August 18||for September 6|
|by September 21||for October 4|
|by October 19||for November 1|
|by November 16||for December 6|
When the weather warms up and you begin to think of home improvements, please call the Village (882-5743) and we will assist you with any necessary permits.
Learn more at minervapark.org/zoning/.
By Dick Busick, Code Enforcement Officer (ret.) ... During 2010, there were 33 violation notices written, and 5 citations made into Mayor's Court, for a total of 38. This was a significant increase from the 29 notifications sent in 2009. Many additional issues were resolved via personal contact with cooperative residents. Of those receiving violation notices, the highest numbers were for trailer and vehicle code infractions, followed by high grass or weeds, home occupation permits, and signage issues.
With us all working toward keeping our Village "looking good," we also will be keeping our property values high. This past year we observed numerous houses in various stages of foreclosure because the severe economic downturn, resulting in Minerva Park making a significant effort to work with out-of-town banks and mortgage companies. For the most part, this was a successful effort, but continued vigilance will be required to keep all our properties in a neat and well trimmed manner. Also we need to limit the storage of trailers and boats in our driveways to less than 48 hours for only loading and unloading. New residents should be aware that erecting fences, installing sheds, and operating home occupations all require a Village permit.
The 2010 statistics follow:
|High grass, weeds, trash||6|
|Home occupation permits||3|
|Signage issues, misc||6|
mp community association
By President Lisa Craddock Thitoff ... 2010 was a busy and productive year for the Minerva Park Community Association. With the help of many new volunteers, we were able to bring several new events to our village and continue events that have been around for years, giving some of them a spark of new life.
These volunteers came to us mostly because of the efforts of our new "volunteer coordinator" Bonnie Townsend, who also leads our Street Rep program. Currently the number of street reps stands at 40.
During this past year our Newcomers Committee, consisting of Marie Takacs, has greeted 15 new home owners.
Glenda Morris, the new chair for the Children's Committee, and her helpers have revitalized the kids parties (Easter egg hunt, Halloween party, and the Christmas party) and made Family Fun Night and Founders Day even more fun for the kids (and adults). This committee's creativity is inspiring! Glenda is reporting between 30 and 70 kids in attendance at these events.
Our membership for 2009-2010 was 71% (403 homes). So far for 2010-2011, we are at 66% (378 homes), according to membership chair Marilyn Herboltzheimer. The Community Association raised its dues in 2010 to $20 (from $15) – the first increase since 2004. These additional funds and an aggressive fundraising effort made it possible for the Community Association to underwrite the costs of a wide variety of events.
The Green Team was added as an official committee with Greg Wittmann as chairman, at our May meeting. This addition furthered the commitment set forth in the MPCA Constitution to "protect the parklands and waters from adverse activities and pollution."
The Green Team sponsored speakers on various topics, such as Bill Dawson from the Franklin Park Conservatory (community gardens), Mike Laughlin from Northridge Organic Farm (organic gardening), AEP's Greg Griffith (your energy footprint), and arborist Chris Ahlum of Ahlum & Arbor and Amy Stone of Ohio State Extension in Lucas County (emerald ash borer). The Green Team has created an EAB management plan and with the help of Mayor Eisentrout applied for funding for our Village to deal with the devastation from the little green bug. Along with all this, they created a community garden, hosted a rain barrel workshop, and sold rain barrels. Green Team member John Michels came up with the golf raffle, a new fundraiser to add to our existing pie, flower, poinsettia, and wreath sales fundraisers.
The Summer Music Series headed by Sid Townsend brought three open-air concerts to Minerva Park - jazz, Dixieland jazz, and country/pop. The MPCA had a permanent patio built by the South Lake to use as a stage for concerts and other events (also used by the storyteller at Halloween). We had a resident (who chooses to remain anonymous) kindly donate his sound equipment and expertise for the 2010 concerts.
Councilman Matt Danzuso became Council's Community Chair and our liaison to Council.
While discussing the budget for this year, we decided to bring back the Nancy Fischer Scholarship, but instead of the original two scholarships for $250 each, we will be doing one scholarship for $500 (minervapark.org/scholarship/).
Founders Day, Family Fun Night, MinervaFlora events (garden tour, garden contest, Festival of Lights, clean-ups, perennial swap), Candidates Night, Garage Sale, Wine and Cheese at the pool, and the many other services that the MPCA hosts are expected to continue into 2011.
A new group this year was formed to identify special projects to bring new and different ideas to our neighborhood. The Duck Award for outstanding citizen(s) in 2010 went to the Green Team under the leadership of Greg Wittmann. The Northland Community Council's 2010 President's Award was given to Bonnie (for all her help this year in events too numerous to mention - you name it, she probably was involved) and Sid Townsend (for his direction of the Summer Music Series).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Community Association board and all of the volunteers who make our events possible.
The Community Association now has a Facebook account. Search for "Minerva Park Community Association" and request to join the group. You must be a member of the Community Association to be in the group.
By Mayor Lynn Eisentrout ... Another year has come and gone, and I have had the honor of serving as your mayor for a little more than 7 years. 2010 was a year of moving forward with some projects, most notably a fifth street improvement project, receiving approval for grant funding for Phase 3 of our Pool Renovation Program, and remediation of the algae problems in the North Lake. Not as much progress was made with the creek and ravine areas as I had hoped, though. We have been somewhat hampered by an unusual number of public records requests that have consumed a significant amount time of the Clerk-Treasurer, my Assistant, and me. Here is a brief overview of 2010:
In January, we received word from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission that our application for funding the 2010 Street Repair Project (resurfacing Lakeland Court and the rest of Lakewood Drive) had been referred to the Ohio Public Work's Commission's (OPWC) Small Government Division for consideration. We received approval in May to move forward with this project. As you may recall, this project was combined with the Maplewood Drive and Farview Road construction projects, streets originally submitted for funding in the 2009 street project. The good news is that we did not run into any major problems and came in $58,000 under budget.
An application requesting a grant was submitted to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in February for pool repairs (replacing the remaining deck around the pool and installing access ramps). We received notice from ODNR in September that our grant application was approved. We made a few additions to the project (installation of a second access ramp exiting the office into the pool area, expanding the eating area, and laying concrete in the triangle adjacent to the children's slide).
In an ongoing effort to address the algae problem in the North Lake and in response to concerns from residents living around the lake, Council approved funds to install aerators or "bubblers" in both lakes and initiate an aggressive treatment program of the North Lake. The efforts proved successful, and we continue to monitor the situation. Elmhurst Avenue resident Matthew Danzuso was appointed at the March Council meeting to fill the vacancy left by Councilman Jeff Rigg's resignation. The first of three Coffees with Council was held March 22 and was fairly well attended. Thank you former Councilman Dave Way for initiating the idea.
In May, our contact at the Census Bureau reported that the Village had a good rate of return of th Census forms, with about 80% of our households responding. I was alerted last spring that, in all likelihood, we have another Gypsy Moth infestation on the south side of the Village. I hope to have the Ohio Department of Agriculture inspect in early spring. I would like to express my appreciation to all of you who supported the 4 mill Replacement Levy in May. This levy generates $115,010.32 for the General Fund and supports all of the services you have come to expect.
There were some staff changes this year. Long-time Police Chief Bob Hillard retired in September after nearly 33 years of service to the Village. Mayor's Court Clerk of Courts Christi Nordman accepted a full-time position with the Westerville school system, and Office Assistant Christy Williamson was promoted to the Clerk position. In an effort to save the Village money, it was decided not to fill the Office Assistant vacancy but to appoint my Assistant and our Zoning Clerk Sara Schumacher as the Deputy Clerk of Courts to assist Christy. We estimate that this will save the Village about $13,000 annually. The Village honored Fire Chief Rick Hoechstetter in January for 25 years of service to Minerva Park, and we sadly accepted Dick Busick's retirement from both the Code Enforcement and Maintenance positions. Dick had served the Village for many years and will be sadly missed.
As usual, autumn in Minerva Park was lovely with all of the beautiful colors and, of course, leaves. Many residents seemed very pleased with our leaf pick-up program this past year, thanks to John McKinney of McKinney Landscaping for a job well done.
A second Replacement Levy was approved by our residents in November, a 1.9 mill levy generating $73,630.40. We appreciate your ongoing support. Also in November, I issued a General Order directing our Police Officers to concentrate their law enforcement activities within the political and geographical boundaries of the Village while still honoring reciprocal and mutual aid agreements with neighboring municipalities and agencies.
In closing, I want to thank all of you for your support this past year and say that I continue to enjoy my job very much. I look forward to making every effort to complete pending projects. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints, please contact me.