NAPOLEON — City leaders passed the 2020 budget, and a piece of legislation that will repeal several of the city’s gun ordinances, on second reading during a Monday night meeting of the Napoleon City Council.
The budget, which was presented by Mayor Jason Maassel and first approved by council Nov. 18, projects estimated 2020 income tax revenue at $4.2 million, an increase of a little more than $100,000 over this year.
Total revenue next year is estimated to be $55.46 million, compared to $51 million this year.
The electric utility is projected to account for 30% of the city’s 2020 revenue.
After purchased power, the city’s largest expense next year will be capital improvements, with $11.5 million appropriated.
Meanwhile, gun ordinances on track to be repealed in response to changes made by the state legislature are 505.11 (hunting prohibited), 505.15 (hunting of Canada geese), 549.08 (discharging firearms) and 549.09 (throwing or shooting projectiles).
City law director Billy Harmon told council at a meeting last month that the legislature has “decided to bar municipalities from enacting or having on the books any sort of ordinance that adversely affects a person’s right to bear arms, as they define it.” Harmon first suggested the changes at council’s Nov. 4 meeting as a means of preventing future lawsuits.
State statute still prohibits the discharge of firearms near certain premises, such as schools. The state legislature’s modifications to Section 9.68 will take effect Dec. 28.
In other business, at the start of Monday’s meeting, council voted 4-3 against issuing a formal statement in response to a controversial comment made Saturday via Twitter by former Napoleon Councilman Travis Sheaffer, who resigned from his post in October.
WTOL News 11 reported Sunday on the tweet, in which Sheaffer stated that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “needs to be tried for treason and hanged.” Bowling Green State University, where Sheaffer is an instructor, responded calling the tweet from Sheaffer’s personal account “inappropriate and counter to BGSU’s values on diversity, belonging and civility,” but added the comment is protected by the First Amendment, as well as the university’s policy on free speech and expression.
Councilman Lori Siclair said the statement council would make “would be certainly against his comments,” but questioned whether such a statement was necessary, given that Sheaffer no longer serves on the city council.
“I say we do nothing,” said Councilman Jeff Comadoll. “Travis did what he did; he did it to himself.”
Voting against issuing a statement were councilmen Ken Haase, Jeff Comadoll, Lori Siclair and Joe Bialorucki.
Councilman Dan Baer said he believes “people are entitled to their own opinion,” but added he would prefer “to focus more on the positive stuff.”
“I just want to make sure that in this case, silence is not consent,” said Mayor Jason Maassel.
Siclair agreed, but added she would “almost rather see it go away at this point.”
In other business Monday, council:
• passed on first reading an ordinance establishing a new position classification pay plan for city employees that includes a 2.25% pay increase each year for three years. Additionally, Harmon was directed to draft legislation approving a 2.5% increase for finance director Kelly O’Boyle, and 4.5% pay increases for Harmon and city manager Joel Mazur.
• appointed Maassel and Baer to the Henry County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) Board of Trustees.
• passed on first reading a resolution authorizing Mazur to enter a programmatic agreement with the Ohio Historic Preservation Office for the administration of programs using Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-allocated funds.
• passed on first reading a trio of ordinances to allow supplementals to the annual appropriations measure, and the transfer of appropriations and certain fund balances (all up to $25,000) by the finance director between quarterly budget adjustments.
• passed on second reading an ordinance allocating 65% of next year’s net available tax receipts to city operating expenses, with the remaining 35% funding capital improvements. In the past, the split was 62/38, but the change reflects money that will be returned to the capital improvements fund after being set aside years back for the city pool (which is now being replaced). Per the ordinance, the split will revert to 62/38 in 2021.
• passed on second reading an ordinance authorizing the city manager, law director or finance director to take bids for certain projects or items valued at more than $25,000 without requiring additional legislation.
• passed on second reading a resolution to continue offering to waive or reduce some fees related to the construction of new homes in the city for another 12 months, in an effort to prompt development.
• passed on final reading an ordinance approving an Efficiency Smart schedule with American Municipal Power (AMP). Mazur said he hopes to focus the power-saving program on downtown businesses, in addition to the city’s largest energy consumers.
• passed on final reading an ordinance raising shelter house rates by $5 at Ritter Park, Wayne Park and the Rotary-Lions Community Center, and an extra $10 at the community center during certain timeframes. The extra money will be put into a maintenance fund.
• accepted $200 in donations to the Napoleon Fire Department from various donors.
• briefly discussed who is responsible for the upkeep of the Canal Basin area near the Lions recycling center, as Maassel noted there are large potholes there. Mazur said he would look into it. Council also discussed briefly the possibility of putting a courtesy light at the yard waste site.
• heard that the Water Environment Federation has awarded one of the city’s wastewater treatment plant staffers, Mike Wenner, the Muckraker Award for a tool that he created.
• heard that the Hoops for Heroes benefit basketball game is tentatively set to take place Dec. 18.