MECHANICSBURG – With the Mechanicsburg Police Department essentially down to one reliable cruiser, Village Council on Monday agreed to give Chief John Alexander and his officers a couple Christmas gifts – two 2017 Ford Explorer cruisers.
“I want to let the citizens of Mechanicsburg know that we greatly appreciate them, and this will allow us to continue to fight the war on drugs and be in multiple places at one time to handle the workload that we face daily,” Alexander said. “This will also be great for officer safety and morale. I want to thank all parties involved in making this process a reality.”
On Nov. 21, Alexander informed council that calls for service for the year were fast approaching 3,000 and, at the same time, the department was putting a lot of wear and tear on its 2015 Ford Explorer due to the fact the 2009 Chevrolet Impala was in and out of the repair shop.
On Monday, Alexander said, “We are only using the Impala now if we absolutely have to. Other than that, it sits.”
To fund the two new Explorer police cruisers that carry a price tag of $39,383 each (completely outfitted), the village will use several funding sources, including a grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services that will reimburse the village 75 percent of the total base price of one of the cruisers.
Last month, Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said the village would be able to fund the purchase of the cruisers through the grant ($26,157) as well as through the following village funds: $12,735 from the Police Cruiser Fund; $24,487 from the Mayor’s Court Fund (closed and transferred to General Fund this year); and $8,480 from the Mayor’s Court Computer Fund (closed and transferred to General Fund this year).
Eck added that by factoring in an estimated reduction in repairs to the Impala of $3,000, it would leave the village needing approximately $3,900, which will come directly from the General Fund.
“You’re not going to have an opportunity (again) to get two (cruisers) at this cost,” council member Charles Foss said.
Alexander said the hope is to have one of the new cruisers on the road by the end of February and the other by June.
“Of course, earlier is always better, and we will work to expedite these cruisers so we can put them into service,” he said.
The hope, Alexander added, is to limit each cruiser to 10,000 miles a year in order to stretch out the life of each one and to have resale value remaining once it’s time to trade them in.
Downtown properties addressed
Administrator April Huggins-Davis updated council on the status of the four properties: 1 and 5 N. Main St. (side-by-side vacant lots on the corner of North Main and West Sandusky streets); and 2 and 4 N. Main St. (side-by-side vacant buildings at the corner of North Main and East Sandusky streets). The village was interested in acquiring the properties through expedited foreclosure.
She explained that during the Dec. 13 Champaign County Board of Revision meeting, the village was informed that the owner of the properties, Mechanicsburg-based North Coast Properties of Champaign County LLC, had redeemed two of the foreclosed properties (1 and 5 N. Main St.) by paying a portion of the delinquencies owed.
As for 2 and 4 N. Main St., which are actually three parcels, the Board of Revision ordered them to be sold by the sheriff, Huggins-Davis said.
Champaign County Assistant Prosecutor Jane Napier informed Huggins-Davis and Mayor Greg Kimball on Dec. 13 that the expedited foreclosure process could no longer be applied to 2 and 4 N. Main St. because the tax value of the parcels is higher than the delinquency (approximately $41,000).
Huggins-Davis informed council that if the properties fail to sell for at least the minimum bid of the delinquency costs, the village will have the opportunity to take ownership of the properties.
She added if the village is able to obtain the two properties, it could team up with the Champaign Economic Partnership, which would help the village come up with an agreement as to how the properties should be developed. Any potential developers would have to follow the terms of the agreement, Huggins-Davis said.
In other business:
•Resident Verne Gregg informed council he recently had a “pretty serious leak” at his Main Street residence that resulted in a $700-plus utility bill. He asked council if there was anything that could be done to lower his bill by possibly removing the sewer costs, which were $300-plus.
While discussing possible options to help Gregg, Village Solicitor Joe Jimenez weighed in with his concern over how this decision could quickly become a village-wide issue with other residents asking for breaks when leaks cause high utility bills.
“Where are you going to draw the line once you start this?” he asked.
Several council members echoed the solicitor’s concerns, including Foss, who said, “I worry about the precedent.”
Huggins-Davis added other residents have been faced with steep utility bills caused by leaks, and all have been required to pay the full amount.
After a lengthy discussion, council ruled that since Gregg’s bill wasn’t overdue, he could pay it off via a payment plan stretched out no longer than 12 months.
•Agri-Sludge Inc. was paid $14,190 for its most recent hauling away of sludge from the village’s wastewater treatment plant.
•Huggins-Davis reminded residents that when the village receives more than 2 inches of snow, all vehicles must be removed from the snow emergency routes – Main and Sandusky streets (state Routes 29 and 4) – to allow them to be plowed.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.