Columbiana Council gets wish lists

COLUMBIANA – The police chief wants to hire two more full-time employees, the fire station needs upgrading, the electric superintendent wants to initiate an LED lighting project downtown and other departments need new equipment.

City department heads presented their needs to council at the recent meeting, as the city is continuing to develop the rest of the 2014 budget.

Finance Director Mike Harold developed a temporary budget for the first three months of this year, with the rest of the year to be developed once a more detailed financial outlook took shape. This is typical for the city, and was done at the end of 2013.

Police Chief Tim Gladis said a new full-time officer is needed to help the department address more truck traffic and transients that come with the shale boom and planned development, and to address the county and city’s heroin and meth problems.

A full-time dispatcher is also needed.

The additions would bring the force to 12 full-time officers, including Gladis, and five dispatchers. There are currently six part-time officers.

“We have to ask for a little more money this time. No matter what happens I can pledge to you we will do our level best with whatever we are given,” he said.

The department requested $1.2 million in 2012 and Gladis is requesting an additional $150,000 for this year to cover the new positions and a new car for detective Wade Boley, who has only ever been given used cars.

Gladis pointed out the department was spending $1.23 million in 2009, which is more than he requested in 2012, and the department has saved more than $40,000 in overtime alone over the last few years.

The department’s auxiliary force donated 139 hours in January according to the monthly activity report, and Gladis said union negotiations are ongoing with both bargaining teams for paid employees.

Police investigated 23 traffic crashes, issued 31 traffic citations, 29 parking tickets, and made six criminal arrests.

Gladis said in the report the department is also pursuing $25,000 in funding through Bluegrass Pipeline for a reverse 9-1-1 system that would provide electronic warning capability to contact citizens directly in case of any emergency or evacuation.

“We hope to hear the results of our request by the end of March,” he wrote.

Fire Chief Rick Garrity said the city should use capital improvement or general fund money for upgrades at the fire station.

The former Ohio Bell building on West Friend Street was purchased by the city in 1972 and the most recent improvements were completed in the late 1990s, he said.

Those included siding on the exterior of the building and the installation of a pitched roof.

“All the rest of the renovations and upkeep have been done by the firemen over the years. Some material was supplied by the city, some by the firemen,” he said.

Needed repairs are reconcreting the floor inside bay no. 1, estimated cost, $6,000. Garrity said that figure could be lowered by using city personnel and equipment.

The front parking lot also needs to be removed and resurfaced.

A professional estimate came in at $15,200.

The furnace is also outdated and needs to be replaced with a new unit that features air conditioning as well. “It sounds like a freight train coming through the station when it is in operation,” he said.

Estimated cost was at $7,000.

He would also like to see energy efficient lighting installed inside the station. A cost estimate was not provided.

Mayor Bryan Blakeman questioned the need for funding to come from other sources, and said the fire levy should have sufficient funding available.

Harold said the levy brings in about $270,000 a year and that combined with the Fairfield Township contract for fire services, the department has more than $300,000 at its disposal.

The fund had about $210,000 at the end of 2013 and was “in pretty decent shape,” he said.

Garrity said the department’s operating budget for this year is similar to last year’s, and appropriations included a quick response vehicle that could be used for brush fires and automobile accidents, although whether it will be purchased this year has not been decided.

Electric Superintendent Doug Sturgeon said he would like to install LED lighting from Allen and Prospect Avenues to North Main Street and out to state Route 14.

About 30 lights would be needed and the existing lights would be used to replace lights that break down, he said.

The city has about 556 street lights and he believes LED lighting would alleviate costs and increase efficiency.

He would also like to renovate the lighting on North Main Street to make it similar to South Main Street, which got all new lighting last year.

Graft Electric provided an estimate for electric alone and it was at $40,000, Sturgeon said.

He would also like a new aluminum body bucket truck to replace the 2000 model that has a rusted bed, and to incorporate voltage conversion on the south and north ends of town. The voltage needs increased from 2,400 to 7,200, he said.

Wastewater Superintendent Bryan Dicken requested:

– Another crew employee for collection that would help with the creation of a maintenance program of the sewer lines. The lines were constructed in the 1940s and are not in good shape, he said.

– Repair of the camera truck, estimated at $80,000 five years ago.

– Installation of a trunk line on Metz Road, to run line from the lift station constructed 2004. The line would increase capacity from 575,000 gallons to 2.4 million gallons, he said. In 2004, it was estimated to cost $216,000 and that likely has gone up since then.

– A new generator for the plant, estimated at less than $150,000.

Water Superintendent Matt Polen requested:

– Refurbishment of the interior of the plant’s water tank, estimated cost $19,000.

– A new pickup truck with a plow. The department uses a truck to maintain the city’s nine well sites.