Council to consider passage of 2017 tax budget

By Joshua Keeran -

Urbana City Council will meet at 6 p.m. today in municipal court chambers to vote on the city’s annual tax budget and to consider administrative requests totaling roughly $143,000 for various items including the hiring of a firm to handle gas compliance and remediation at the landfill.

An ordinance adopting the city of Urbana’s tax budget for fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2017, is scheduled to undergo a third and final reading. If approved, the financial documents would be submitted to Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey.

“Basically, the purpose is to estimate the resources for 2017 that we will have available to spend in the various funds of the city of Urbana,” Finance Director Chris Boettcher said during the first reading of the tax budget ordinance June 7. “Those funds include the General Fund, the Airport Fund, Street, Cemetery Water and Sewer Fund.”

The General Fund is projected to have a revenue of $6,384,406.

“This represents a modest 1.45 percent increase over the 2016 estimated revenue,” Boettcher said.

Along with projecting revenues, the tax budget predicts expenditures in 2017, and the General Fund is expected to have expenses totaling $6,314,785. If everything plays out as planned, the city would see a positive balance in the General Fund for 2017 of $69,621.

“Right now (the General Fund) looks pretty good at $70,000, but it will get tighter,” Boettcher said.

Board of Control

During today’s meeting, city administration is expected to present council with five items for possible passage. Headlining the list is a purchase order to Hull & Associates for an amount not to exceed $93,500 for gas compliance and remediation at the old city-owned landfill.

While the city has continued to monitor the landfill since its closure in 1988, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requested earlier this year a closer look to see if methane gas created by decomposing waste at the landfill is travelling across property lines.

The concerns expressed by the Ohio EPA came about after it learned of Urbana City Schools’ plan to build a pre-kindergarten through grade eight building on district-owned property directly south of the landfill.

Administration will also be seeking council’s approval to exercise the city’s second one-year extension option with Waste Management of Ohio Inc. for the residential curbside recycling program.

According to the contract details, the cost per residential unit would remain at the current rate of $3.18 per month. The monthly cost to the city, based on 3,600 residential units, would total $11,448.

Other items to go before council for approval by administration include:

•A purchase order to Cherokee Run Landfill in the amount of $20,000 for sludge disposal.

•A purchase order to Software Solutions in the amount of $14,454.14 for the annual software license and maintenance support for the financial systems that process the city’s general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, income tax and utility billing systems.

•A purchase order to One Aqua Source Inc. in the amount of $15,000 for the purchase of polymer to be used at the city’s Water Reclamation Facility.

City weighs in on land banks

During its June 21 meeting, council passed a resolution supporting the creation of a county land bank in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code.

A land bank, Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said, is a “quasi governmental entity” established by state lawmakers in response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis that struck the country several years back, and it’s typically funded through a county’s DTAC (Delinquent Tax & Assessment Collection) Fund.

“Our county has been exploring the possibility of creating a land bank in Champaign County,” he said, adding the resolution is the city’s way of affirming its support for the creation of such an entity. “Historically, a land bank since the 2008 situation made a lot of communities eligible for demolition money. I think in our case, we wouldn’t use a land bank as much for demolition efforts as we would in giving the county another tool to turn unproductive property over.”

Crabill added in order for a property to end up in a land bank, it has to go tax delinquent and the foreclosure process has to run its course.

“Basically, it would go all the way to the auditor’s sale and if no one has purchased the property, the auditor could turn the property over to the land bank.”

If the county were to establish a land bank, the city would have at least one seat on the board due to it being the largest municipality in the county, Crabill said.

By Joshua Keeran

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

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