ST. PARIS – The St. Paris Village Council convened in the municipal building on Monday evening to discuss town topics.
In the absence of Mayor Brenda Cook, who was feeling under the weather, President Pro Tempore and Councilor Susan Prince took charge of the meeting.
During the mayor’s notes, Prince announced that the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) will be making a scheduled stop at Harmon Park on June 24 for rest and refreshments. Though GOBA only had about 500 riders last year, the organization is expecting between 1,200 and 1,500 this year.
Prince also stated that the Federation of Churches would be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on April 16 at 10 a.m., held on the lawn space at 370 East Main Street.
Next, Councilor Joe Curran mentioned that the council had received an official letter of support from the Champaign County Board of Commissioners Office in regards to St. Paris’s recent application for state capital improvement funds to construct a multi-use path through St. Paris called the Pony Wagon Trail.
Councilor Randy Smith raised several important questions about the trail, such as how it would be policed and maintained, and Police Chief Eric Smith shared that he is investigating a grant for a golf cart to assist his department with patrolling the trail.
Prince then reported that Graham Kindergarten Day will occur on May 13; students will be touring the village, visiting sites like the library, the post office and the municipal building to learn about local government.
To wrap up the mayor’s notes, Prince announced a revision to the Council Meeting procedures concerning public comments and citizens’ participation. The St. Paris council grants the public two slots in the agenda to make comments: the first is at the beginning of the meeting to comment on agenda items, and the second is at the close of the meeting following any discussion.
Effective immediately, a five-minute time limit on each individual presentation will be enforced. Fiscal Officer Marc McGuire will keep time and notify the citizen when time has expired. Anyone requiring more than five minutes to speak must notify council ahead of time and be published on the agenda, and Prince suggested that council members refrain from interrupting or interacting with the individual within their five minutes.
The council then progressed to old business, first discussing the validity and necessity of the various council committees (a question raised at the previous meeting following a presentation from Councilors Curran and Sam Ronicker that recapped the Ohio Municipal League training).
Of the seven council committees, some have regularly-scheduled meetings with public participation, while others do not. To create consistency, Prince suggested that council temporarily drop extraneous committees until it has time to reexamine standard procedures.
Therefore, the Safety Committee was eliminated (as Chief Smith covers this responsibility), the Street Committee was abolished (as Village Administrator Spencer Mitchell manages street projects) and the Finance Committee was dissolved (as Fiscal Officer McGuire tracks spending and budgeting).
However, the four remaining committees were deemed necessary, as they are currently working on an active project, have an established meeting schedule or have a separate budget. For these reasons, the council elected to keep the JSP Fire Board Committee, the Planning Commission, the Land & Buildings Committee and the Parks & Trees Committee.
Ronicker made a motion to sustain the latter committees (JSP Fire Board, Planning Commission, Land & Buildings, and Parks & Trees) and eliminate the former committees (Safety, Street, and Finance); Councilor Terry Ervin seconded that motion, and it passed unanimously.
The second item of old business consisted of the funding for new individually-fitted, bullet-proof police vests. At the March 21 meeting, Chief Smith shared that St. Paris had been awarded the 75%-25% Body Armor Grant, meaning that the village will pay the cost of the vests ($8,085.00) up front and be reimbursed for 75% of that cost ($5,775.00) after purchase. The Finance Committee has since met with McGuire to determine where the funds will come from.
Prince proposed on behalf of the Finance Committee that the village move $5,555.66 from the “other professional and technical services” line item within the police budget into the “small tools and minor equipment” line item (which already has $2,529.34 in it), and then using the entire “small tools and minor equipment” line item to pay for the vests. This expenditure will zero out that line item, and once the village is reimbursed for the vests, McGuire will repay the “other professional and technical services” line item.
However, the village’s bottom-line cost for the vests, $2,310.00, will be entirely covered within the police budget without moving additional monies. Prince added that these vests only last about 5 years, and as the village purchased the last round of vests in 2019 (which no longer fit an almost entirely new police force), the current vests are only several years from expiration.
Ronicker made a motion to shuffle these funds, Ervin seconded, and the motion passed 4-1 (Prince abstained).