CIRCLEVILLE — When it comes to safety issues, Circleville City Council has two major items on its plate as carry over from last year that they hope to tackle in 2020.
Michelle Blanton, safety committee chair, said there would be an important committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. to discuss the proposal by the Pickaway County Commissioners for the City of Circleville to combine or contract 911 services with the county. The commissioners set a deadline of March 1 for their offer.
“We need to come to a decision in the first two months and what that looks like,” Blanton said. “During that meeting we’ll have the fact-finding committee present all the facts to full council.”
Blanton, along with fellow councilperson Sherri Theis, serve as that fact-finding committee on the subject. Blanton said most of the information and facts have been gathered with the exception of two minor details.
“Citizens can expect to hear a history of the initiative up to this point and hear the financial facts of what it’ll cost to keep landline 911 calls at the Circleville Police Department and what it looks like if we contract with the county,” Blanton continued. “There is still going to be costs if we contract with them but they may not be as high if we do.”
The other major concern Blanton shared is the recently passed safety forces levy and making sure the public is kept up-to-date on how that money is spent through regular updates to the public both in Council Chambers and the Internet.
“We put this before the public and we are committing to spending this money for those purposes,” she told The Circleville Herald. “We were very specific in saying the money would go toward additional safety forces personnel. We want to make sure the public knows we’re keeping our promise.”
Blanton added that how the money is spent will be regularly on the safety committee agenda and she’ll report to full city council during their meeting on the third Tuesday of the month.
“We’re not going to have a bunch of money out of the gate and it’s going to be months before a lot of money is generated,” she remarked. “City officials have already started coming up with a plan to spend the money and it will be our job to make sure that the plan is followed. Every month the administration will give us an update and it’s my understanding they’re actively interviewing people and developing their list.”
Blanton said consensus from city leadership was to inform the public in other ways but those details hadn’t yet been completely worked out.
“We have the desire to do it, whether it’s a monthly article, published on social media or however we’re going to make an effort to communicate regularly,” Blanton reiterated. “It was .5 percent and it’s a big amount of money for some people. It’s money out of people’s pocket. We have to make sure that we do our due diligence.”
The sidewalks were also a discussion topic and the topic has now moved into the safety committee. Currently city ordinances require property owners to maintain their sidewalks and they are responsible for 100 percent of the costs but there hasn’t been much in the way of enforcement in recent years.
Tony Chamberlain told the committee that following conversations with Law Director Gary Kenworthy and Service Director Terry Frazier he feels like they have enough to proceed to enforce the laws following ordinances passed in 2019.
Chamberlain said there would be a notification and a minimum of 30 days per the statute would be given to residents to fix the problem through a private contractor before the city steps in and charges the property owner for the costs by assessing their taxes.
“I believe that Frazier, Gary Kenworthy and I need to sit down again one more time and go over it one more time to make sure all three of us are comfortable to move forward with it,” Chamberlain said. “We know of areas on North Court Street and there are areas downtown, I’m sure there are other areas that need addressed but we know of those two, but as we move forward if there are others to let us know too.”
Chamberlain said money could be set aside for the repairs immediately but the questions come from the assessment process and ensuring they’re doing that “the right way.”
Blanton said additional priorities for all committees and full council would be discussed at the retreat later this month and what was discussed would likely not be a complete and total list for the committee in 2020.