The City of Napoleon continued to work on its finances in 2013, includuing addressing some proposals made in a performance audit conducted of the city's operations by the Ohio Auditor's office.
The City of Napoleon continued to work on its finances in 2013, includuing addressing some proposals made in a performance audit conducted of the city’s operations by the Ohio Auditor’s office.
Before the audit was even received, the Napoleon Parks and Recreation Board in January reversed a long-standing policy and recommended to start charging a fee for recreation programs. It also suggested lowering fees at the municipal golf course in an effort to increase play. Later, as the audit proposed selling the course to a private entity, a group of golfers convinced council to increase fees at the course.
That group also came together to increase activity, and revenue, at the course, while cost-cutting measures were also instituted by city staff. The golfing season was also extended by a few weeks. The result pleased council enough for it to agree to keep it open at least another year.
The audit also proposed eliminating the emergency dispatch center and having the municipal pool run by a private entity. After months of discussion, the dispatch issue will go to city voters in 2014 for an “advisory” vote, while no one could be found to run the pool any cheaper than it is already being done.
Mayor Ron Behm continued to push for a rainy day fund during his State of the City address, which council agreed to later in the year.
After agreeing in 2012 to pursue a new water treatment plant, council also decided to have a water-rate study conducted to determine what rates needed to be. The study later indicated a minor increase was needed, and council decided on 3 percent each year for the next three years.
The proposed new water plant will be a joint venture between the city and other county entities. Work group discussions have been held, and many have signed on to an agreement to pursue the idea. In November, a representative of Henry County said he was told the grant money likely will be diminished from what was originally thought, but City Manager Jon Bisher told council that has yet to be determined and likely won’t be until the county applies for the grant.
In August, two downtown buildings, 601 and 605 N. Perry St., were okayed for demolition due to their deteriorating condition. In their place will be a parking lot, which will be completed sometime in 2014.
Also in August, Napoleon lost a long-time leader when Councilman James Hershberger passed away.
After several committee meetings failed to change anything, council began meeting in full session to discuss possible changes to its sewer rules concerning responsibility for repairs when the line is in the city right-of-way. In these situations, the bill can run several thousands, for which the homeowner is currently responsible. A meeting at the end of the year indicated a change may be coming to this in 2014.
The city closed the year by agreeing to contracts with two unions representing city employees. A third, for police officers, needs to be addressed yet.
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