Fiscal officer reports village may soon be released from fiscal emergency status –
By Patricia Beech –
The Manchester Village Council, on Monday, Feb. 5, voted to accept a contract with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to police the municipality while the village continues to climb out of a fiscal emergency more than 20 years in the making.
The Sheriff’s Office has provided police protection in the village since last year when the council voted to disband the police department on the recommendation of the Ohio State Auditor’s Office.
The new contract provides two part-time deputies at $15 an hour while on the clock in Manchester. The pay rate will revert to county time whenever a deputy is called away from the village.
Councilman Brian Napier said the contract would “allow Manchester money to stay in Manchester.” “All the changes made to the contract were to the village’s benefit,” he said when a brief discussion arose about the possibility of the village being sued if the council agreed to enter the contract.
“We’ve had two lawyers look at it,” Councilwoman Teresa Blythe said, adding “I don’t know why any business in Manchester would sue us because we’re providing (police) coverage.”
The motion to enter into the contract was made, seconded, and passed 4 – 2, with dissenting votes coming from Councilman Troy Jolly and Councilman Mike Phipps, who praised the contract, but voted “no” saying he was “afraid it will open the village up to lawsuits.”
Members of the public asked for updates on work being done to improve the town’s appearance and safety, and requested that council consider a way to honor the late Georgia Woolard, the longtime owner of the town’s newspaper, the Manchester Signal, who recently passed at the age of 96.
She was known for supporting the preservation of the Nathaniel Massie Park, which the Woolard family gifted to the town.
“Her main objective was that the children of this village have a place to go and play,” said Councilwoman Christine Henderson.
Several suggestions were made, including the placing a plaque of recognition in the park.
“She was such a special part of this community, in so many ways, for so many years,” said Blythe. “Whatever we do, it’s not going to be enough, no one has put as much of their heart and soul into this town for as long as Georgia did.”
The Council said they would consider how to proceed.
Eric Weiss, of the Brekford Traffic Safety Company, spoke to the council about installing speed light cameras in areas around the village where traffic violations are most likely to occur.
Councilwoman Blythe voiced concern about the system saying, “we don’t want Manchester to have a speed trap reputation.”
Mayor Robert Hilderbrand asked Weiss to provide the council with more information.
Engineer, Steve Mack, reported that the Phase 1 Sanitary Sewer Project has been completed and that work is set to begin on Phase 2, with all costs being covered by a $2.23 million fiscal forgiveness grant. Mack also said the village is pursuing an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant to build a four foot-wide sidewalk from Broadway Street to Fair Avenue along State Rte. 52. The council agreed to prepare and vote on a resolution for the project’s design in their upcoming March meeting.
The village’s fiscal officer, Rae-Ann Insko, reported she is “finishing up end-of-year obligations” and that the town is “in the black, and has been for sometime”.
She told the council, “The commission will let us know at the end of March whether we can move forward in our application to be removed from fiscal emergency.”
Street Commissioner, Buster Ruark reported that the Adkinson property on Broadway Street had been given a “clean bill of health” and would soon be “turned back over to the owner”. He also reported prolonged parking of vehicles along 2nd Street which business owners say is interfering with the flow of customer traffic.
Manchester Fire Chief Rick Bowman told the council that his department is pursuing a 50/50 matching ODOT grant for needed equipment upgrades, and that an automatic gurney has been added to local EMS supplies.
Joann Hildebrand announced that planning for the 2018 River Days festival will begin Monday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m in the Manchester Community Building.
Completing unfinished business, the council voted 6-0 to enter a General Labor Contract on behalf of the town. Members also gave a progress report on the removal of the burned building on 2nd Street and agreed to consult a road construction professional about needed repairs to the 2017 blacktop project on 8th Street.
Conducting new business, the council approved a motion to pass an Unclaimed Fund Resolution that will allow money from uncashed municipal checks to be returned to the village. Before adjourning, members voted to amend their 2018 schedule to include a second monthly meeting when needed, and agreed to delay the appointment of Committee Chairs and Members until next month’s council meeting.
Council also gave notice that the BWC Monthly Safety Council Meeting will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Adams County Regional Medical Center in Seaman.