Plain City may borrow millions to fix utility lines, consolidate village offices

Most money would fix utility lines, consolidate village offices

By Andrea Chaffin -

Plain City is considering taking on nearly $4 million of debt to knock out some much-needed capital improvement projects, largely repairs on its water and sewer infrastructure.

The proposed plan is to make the loan payments using money collected by the village’s half-percent income tax, which was passed by residents last year.

Council members held a first reading on the legislation during Monday’s council meeting.

About $4.5 million is needed to address projects village leaders have identified as high priority. About 60 percent of that is utility-related. That includes $1.5 million to find and repair leaks in the water lines, and buying equipment to clean and maintain those lines.

Other projects include renovating the youth building and restrooms at Pastime Park, purchasing vehicles, replacing water meters, starting a street paving program to address every road over a span of 20 years, repairing curbs and gutters on Carriage Drive and $1 million on renovating the administration office to consolidate all village offices — including the police department.

Village administrator Kevin Vaughn said the village has already won a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to off-set some of the costs, and is in the running for a few other grants. If the police department were to move, the village could also sell that building. He anticipates needing to borrow between $3.5 million and $4 million.

The income tax will eventually bring in about $650,000 annually. If the village borrows $3.52 million with a 15-year payback and 3 percent interest rate, the annual payment would be about $295,242.

It’s not as scary as it may sound, Vaughn said. He compared the village taking out the bonds to a household getting a home mortgage or car loan. Plain City operates on about $4.5 million a year.

In fact, the village has the capacity to borrow and pay back more than $8 million, according to David Conley of Rockmill Financial Consulting. The village has been working with the firm for about two years. Conley referred to the bonds and the final step of the process, which started with surveying the village’s needs.

The village is looking at one large bond on all the high priority projects, instead of taking out smaller loans and tackling each project individually, because of the magnitude of work, Vaughn said.

“We’ve deferred maintenance and repair for so long due to lack of funding,” he said. “We have so many more things that need fixed. This is not that big of a list compared to everything we need to do.”

Other more expensive projects include complete road renovation and new storm sewers, curbs and gutters — multi-million dollar projects.

Council is expected to approve the bonds next month following three readings on the legislation.

In other business from Monday’s council meeting:

• The public hearing to approve the M/I homes subdivision, Darby Fields, was cancelled per the request of the developer, which remains in negotiation with the village on how to address potential traffic issues at the intersection of Converse-Huff and Plain City-Georgesville roads.

• Councilman Nick Kennedy voiced his frustration with the two committees he leads as chair: parks and board of zoning appeals (BZA). He’s annoyed BZA has approved every variance set before it in the two years Kennedy as served as chair.

“What’s the point of even having regulations?” he asked.

Regarding parks, Kennedy asked council for what direction the committee should take when there is little money set aside for park use. He asked members to commit to giving the park more so he doesn’t waste his time.

• Uptown property owner Eric Medici complained about the village’s strict zoning regulations on businesses. He said there are several businesses currently in uptown that would be outlawed under the village’s code.

“The sign says Plain City is open for business. Is that a euphemism for something?” he asked.

Village solicitor Paul Michael LaFayette said he look into the issue.

• Council member Leslie Perkins asked if the village would consider adding a leash law to require pet owners to keep their animals on leashes at Pastime Park. Council indicated its support.

• Two new members were appointed to the village’s design review board. Steve Rice will serve a term ending Dec. 31, 2017 and Bernie Vance will serve a term ending Dec. 31, 2019.

• The next council meeting has been moved to the youth building at Pastime Park to avoid a scheduling conflict.

• Council met in executive session to discuss economic development. No action was taken.
Most money would fix utility lines, consolidate village offices

By Andrea Chaffin

Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.

Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.