City hires firm to study gas activity at landfill


By Joshua Keeran - jkeeran@civitasmedia.com



The Urbana City Council on Tuesday took the first step toward addressing recent concerns of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency over the old city-owned landfill by hiring an environmental consulting firm to look into whether methane gas is escaping the property.

Last month, the Ohio EPA reached out to the city after learning of Urbana City Schools’ plan to build a pre-kindergarten through grade eight building on property it owns directly south of the landfill. According to EPA regulations, any methane gas created by decomposing waste at a landfill can’t be allowed to travel across property boundaries, so the EPA has requested the city make sure it’s in compliance and no methane is making its way onto the school district’s property.

To study the methane gas activity at the landfill, which the city closed in 1988, council agreed to bring Hull & Associates Inc. aboard at a cost of $11,000 to handle landfill gas compliance activities.

“This expenditure is for three different task orders basically to get a final review done for a public records request by the Ohio EPA and to pull a lot of the past data and history of the gas monitoring system and some of its original design,” Wastewater Superintendent Chad Hall said. “From there, (Hull & Associates) would work into building a model that would potentially show the migration pathways of the potential gas in the landfill and come up with an updated gas monitoring plan, which needs revised anyway.”

Director of Administration Kerry Brugger added, “One of the key things we want to stress to council and the public is our primary goal here is to be responsive to the EPA. We have an obligation and duty to the health and safety of the citizens of this community.”

The second priority, he said, is to remain in compliance with all EPA requirements.

“We are not going to make any decisions without proper data and without proper science,” Brugger said.

Hall noted the city had been conducting quarterly testing at the landfill for some time. To make sure the city is in compliance with the methane gas regulations as it pertains to it not escaping to the school property, testing is now being conducted weekly.

Once Hull & Associates has all the past and current data it needs to build a scientific model, Brugger said, the city will meet with the Ohio EPA to discuss the findings and determine criteria required of the city from here on out.

Resolutions given stamp of approval

Council suspended the three-readings rule and passed on first reading four resolutions during the meeting, with all but one passing unanimously.

A resolution to authorize Brugger to submit an application to the Ohio Department of Transportation under the Highway Safety Improvement Program for improvements to the Monument Square roundabout and approaching roadways passed by a 6-1 vote with council member Ray Piper voting no.

Piper said he has concerns with the plan to install curbed islands throughout the square. He said it will make snow removal more difficult for Street Department employees and could result in damage to vehicles if drivers drive onto the islands.

In a separate construction matter, council passed a resolution allowing the city to move forward with the Safe Routes to Schools Project, which will involve the construction of sidewalks this summer on the south side of Boyce Street from East Lawn Avenue to Jefferson Avenue and on the east side of Madison Avenue from Boyce Street to Central Street (back of East Elementary). The resolution allows for city officials to take the necessary steps required to obtain the seventh and final piece of parcel needed to allow for the sidewalks to be built.

Council also authorized Brugger to submit an application to the Ohio Development Services Agency for a Local Government Safety Capital Grant.

Fire Chief Mark Keller stated the city is eligible to receive up to $100,000, and if the grant were to be awarded to the Urbana Fire Division, it would be used to purchase a new utility truck, EMS and firefighting equipment, and help to purchase trailers for the county’s hazmat team.

In order to save the city $11,000 on its health insurance premiums, council passed a resolution authorizing Director of Finance Chris Boettcher to join the Metropolitan Educational Council at a cost of $300.

In other business:

•With the city starting to see decreases in ambulance revenue being collected per year, council decided to hire a new vendor in McKesson, which will provide ambulance billing services for a minimum of two years at a cost of 5.5 percent of the city’s net ambulance billing revenue.

“We did some investigation and found this company that has been able to increase revenue for several other cities, with Marysville being one of them,” Keller said.

Boettcher added the city’s ambulance revenue typically ranges from $375,000 to $399,000.

•In an attempt to make jet fuel and Avgas prices at Grimes Field more competitive with other area airports, council authorized a purchase order to Purvis Brothers Fuel in the amount of $18,608.26 to retire the debt associated with a 2015 agreement that resulted in upgrades to the airport’s fuel farm.

Brugger said using money from the Airport Fund to pay off the debt allows the city to shop the market and negotiate with other fuel providers since the current agreement with Purvis Brothers prevents such an action.

•Three members of the Urbana Fire Division – Capt. Jason Croker, Firefighter/Medic Ralph Bowman and Firefighter/Medic Adam Nitchman – were sworn in to their new positions by Mayor Bill Bean.

•In an attempt to streamline the city’s time and attendance system and do away with the manual time clocks used by city employees, council agreed to pay $18,185 to F&E Payment Pros for new time and attendance software, licensing and biometric time clocks.

Boettcher said the new system will help cut down on the time the city’s human resources manager spends on payroll, and it will allow employees to clock in with either their proximity card or with their thumbprint.

•The city’s audit services for year ending Dec. 31, 2015, will be handled by Charles E. Harris & Associates at a cost not to exceed $25,000, which is a $5,000 savings from the previous year. Boettcher said the firm was selected by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office.

By Joshua Keeran

jkeeran@civitasmedia.com

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.