Bryan City Council’s effort to put the dissolution of the Board of Public Affairs governing body to a public vote moved forward Monday with the first reading of an ordinance to put the issue on the ballot.
At a meeting last month, council directed City Attorney Rhonda Fisher to draft legislation to submit to the Williams County Board of Elections for inclusion in the March 2020 election.
Fisher presented the draft ballot question on Monday and took time to clarify some points and answer some questions she’s been asked regarding the issue.
Such a change to city government requires amending the city charter and Fisher said Article 18, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution grants the city the ability to put a proposed change to city charter to a public vote.
The ordinance seeking a vote would become effective the day it is passed by council. It would then be sent to the county elections office, then the Secretary of State’s Office to determine whether it is fit for the ballot.
In order to meet the deadline for the March 2020 ballot, Fisher said, the issue would need to be submitted to the elections board by Dec. 17. Council is scheduled to meet Dec. 2 and Dec. 16.
Regarding the need for a city administrator or manager in the absence of the BPA, Fisher said that, because of the city’s status as a charter municipality, council may create a department for that position if they deem it necessary.
Likewise, she said council would not have to expand from its current five-member makeup to accommodate for the loss of the five-person BPA, but council could put that option to a public vote, if deemed necessary.
BPA member Karen Ford was present at Monday’s meeting and said she questions whether the council could be as effective at managing the city’s utilities as the BPA has been since it was established in 1906.
“We have a successful utility because we have members who invest time to make it that way,” she said.
BPA member Tom Sprow noted that there was an assertion at the October meeting that the city would save money and reduce duplicate work from dissolving the board. He asked council when the public would be informed about how much could be saved and what jobs could be eliminated or combined.
Council members agreed those were worthy questions that should be answered before they passed the legislation.
In other action, council passed a resolution stating the services that the city would provide to three properties that have been proposed for annexation.
The first two properties, both located on Center Street at the southwest edge of town, would receive sanitary and storm sewer, refuse collection, fire, police and municipal utilities services, among others.
Fisher said annexing these properties would accomplish a city goal of eliminating “islands” of properties near the city’s municipal limits that are technically part of a township, but are surrounded virtually completely by properties that are part of the city.
The second property, located adjacent to the Williams County Airport on County Road 16 on the city’s east side, would receive only fire and police services. That property was recently acquired by the Williams County Airport Authority.
Also on Monday, council:
• Approved a Community Reinvestment Area tax exemption submitted by Nostrum Laboratories for an addition to the company’s plant at 705 E. Mulberry St.
• Authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for collection of outstanding, delinquent income tax payments.
• Established two news funds, for the South Williams Street and Industrial Park North projects.
• Approved the promotions of: Michael P. Ruby, from firefighter 2 to fire officer; Dustin L. Gillett, from firefighter to fire officer 1; Fire Caption Jeremy M. Miklovic to regular employment status; Jeremy Viers, from patrol officer to patrol sergeant; and a pay raise for patrol officer Mason Hammond.
• Met in closed, executive session to discuss imminent litigation, discipline of a public employee, acquisition of property and appointment of personnel.