The search for a new airport manager is underway after Urbana City Council learned Tuesday that Lou Driever is resigning from the position effective June 30.
In his resignation letter, Driever, hired as manager of Grimes Field on Feb. 1, 2015, stated his decision to resign is due to his pending move to Kentucky, where his wife lives.
“When accepting this position, work and church were my primary focus,” he wrote. “My recent marriage brought additional responsibilities.”
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger thanked Driever for all he has done to help improve the city-owned airport.
“The things that have been accomplished in not quite a year-and-a-half have been pretty phenomenal,” Brugger said. “If you see Lou, I think he deserves a ‘thank you’ and a ‘good luck’ in his future endeavors.”
Driever noted the community’s support of Grimes Field.
“The enhancements at the airport would not have been possible without the strong support of the community and hard work of volunteers,” he said. “We have a full schedule of events planned throughout the summer, and I’m confident that the airport will continue to serve as a focal point for the community. While I may be moving now, I’ll be returning to visit on a regular basis.”
Annexation ordinance fails
Council voted 5-0 (council members Doug Hoffman and Pat Thackery were absent) against an ordinance involving an annexation agreement between the city and Urbana Township over the property at 638 Childrens Home Road, which is in the township.
Under the agreement, the property, which receives city utilities, was to be annexed into Urbana per city ordinance, and the city was prepared to provide emergency services as well as road maintenance and repair to the property.
The agreement states the city will pay the township an agreed-upon amount to help offset the township’s loss of tax revenue due to the property being annexed into the city.
Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said that until the third and final reading of the ordinance, which was scheduled to take place on April 19 but was tabled until Tuesday, the city was under the impression the township was willing to accept a single payment, in lieu of taxes, of $542.46, which represents a pro-rated value of estimated property tax based on current valuation and levies.
“Originally, we thought we were all on the same page with the five-year model with a one-time payment upfront, and the township has acted otherwise,” said Crabill, adding the city recently learned the township prefers the annexation agreement involve a property tax compensation model outlined in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that calls for 13 payments over the next 13 years, at an estimated cost to the city of just over $1,000.
“It’s more complicated and burdensome,” Crabill said. “The most problematic thing other than the additional cost is the administration costs of going with the ORC model for payments in years 12 and 13, which are estimated to be less than $50.”
Director of Law Breanne Parcels called the 13-year compensation model a “complete shot in the dark” in terms of what the yearly payments may be and added the property owner, Leonard A. Parsons, is under an obligation to annex the property into the city because council approved extraterritorial extension of the utilities to the property in July 2015.
“The township and the city can talk about an agreement all they want, but, ultimately, it’s going to be up to that property owner to annex to continue to receive services,” she said.
Council was informed that Parsons has been notified that city utilities will be terminated if the property isn’t annexed in the near future.
Parcels said if another agreement between the city and township can be ironed out, it will go to council for approval.
In other business:
•Council received an economic development update from Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
Bailey said the CEP is working on 20 projects in various stages within city limits. Of the 20, five involve manufacturers and 15 are retail-based.
“If we were to win all 20 of these projects, there is about 260 new jobs that would be created from those businesses, and there is also over $50 million of investment in those projects,” she said. “That would be a huge impact on our city.”
Bailey added the CEP’s first quarterly newsletter and 2015 financial report are online at www.cepohio.com.
•Monument Square District Secretary Vicki Deere-Bunnell informed council the annual spring cleanup and beautification of the downtown area will take place on May 14. She said volunteers are needed to help clean the streets, plant flowers and paint Legacy Park in Monument Square. Individuals wishing to lend a hand during the cleanup are asked to meet at the side entrance of Security National Bank, 1 Monument Square, at 1 p.m. on May 14.
•On May 1, Crabill said, the city began its yearly enforcement of the codified ordinance pertaining to tall grass (10 inches or taller).
•Council approved spending $15,037.01 to have Cherokee Run Landfill haul roughly 500 tons of sludge from the Urbana Water Reclamation Facility.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.