HARTVILLE In her report to council on the village’s first council meeting of the year Mayor Cynthia Billings outlined a number of successes for the village in 2016, while offering suggestions on how the village should address some of its most important to-do list items in 2017.
"These are some of the items I feel need to be addressed this year – they are by no means the only things we need to work on," Billings said.
Among the mayor’s top priorities in 2017 are the completion of the village zoning book; continued paving projects throughout the village; addressing the condition of village buildings, particularly village hall; looking for solutions for commercial building vacancies throughout the village; and addressing the failure of the village’s latest tax levy and how to move forward.
Billings spoke at length about the latter two items.
"We spend a lot of time talking about getting businesses into the industrial park, but I think it’s just as important to try and help building owners get businesses into their empty buildings," she said, noting that there are approximately 20-25 commercial buildings unoccupied in the village.
"I have been working on an updated business listing and am surprised how many empty business buildings we have in Hartville," Billings said. "There are a lot of things we as a village, especially with help from the Lake Chamber of Commerce and our commerce and development (committee), can do to help get businesses in these buildings. I want to work on some of these ideas throughout the year."
The village should not waste any time deciding its next move regarding whether or not to put a tax levy back on the ballot this year either, according to the mayor.
The income tax request was defeated by a 1,047 to 466 vote margin in the Nov. 8 general election, with a 69.2 percent of voters rejecting the levy, based upon results from the Stark County Board of Elections.
The village’s financial situation, however, has not changed, Billings said.
"With the failure of the latest tax levy, instead of waiting until the last minute to decide (that) we need to put something on the ballot, we need to work on this now," Billings said. "We still need more money coming in to properly run the village. We need to discuss the different options we have and come up with what best suits our needs."
The bright side of 2016
Billings also outlined a number of positives in 2016, including the completion of projects such as the repair of the railroad tracks at State Route 619 and the paving of most of the Indian Village allotment; the purchasing of a backhoe in the street department and a police cruiser, to replace a 2007 model; and the start of the village’s first police K-9 program and the Village of Hartville Facebook page.
In addition, the mayor highlighted several successful events throughout the year, including the Lake Township Historical Society’s Lake Township Bicentennial celebration; for Second Saturday events with downtown merchants; the 19th Annual Evening in the Village; and the installation of a Little Free Library by local Boy Scout Christopher Kuhn.
Billings also announced the re-appointment of zoning inspector, Ray Bednarczyk; building official/inspector Tom Erb; and electrical inspector, Todd Allen for 2017.
Council members appointed Councilwoman Kelly Reis to serve as council pro-tem this year, with Councilwoman Bev Green voting against the appointment. Reis named Green and Councilman James Sullivan finance committee council representatives and said she is in the process of making appointments to the remaining village committees.
Police computer system service contract approved
Council passed a resolution authorizing Billings to renew the village’s contract with TAC Computer Services to provide computer services for the police department.
The one-year agreement, through Dec. 31 2017, states that the village will pay TAC $4,706 per year, along with $100 per hour for service outside regular business hours, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.
Green suggested council negotiate for a lower rate with TAC when the company’s contract for computer services in other village departments is discussed, due to problems village employees have had accessing TAC’s email service.
Woodland bids opened, liquor license hearing declined
Village engineer Rob Graham announced that bids for the Woodland Street repaving project will be opened as originally scheduled, at 11 a.m. Feb. 7.
Solicitor Ron Starkey informed council members that they could request a hearing to discuss the 1280 W. Maple St. Sheetz store’s request for a liquor permit, which was approved by voters in November. Council elected not to hold the hearing.