By Amantha Garpiel
TIPP CITY — The Tipp City City Council approved multiple resolutions for improvements in the city and one to approve a settlement agreement between the city and Robinson Pipe Cleaning Company during its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The first resolution approved by council is a resolution to send out a letter notifying Donald J. Stine, who’s property is outside of the city limits, of the city’s intent to appropriate 7.421 +/- acres of Stine’s property for the purpose of building an electric substation.
This letter notifies the recipient the city is in the process of negotiating with Stine to reach an agreement for the city to purchase the land. This letter is required to following through with the process of appropriating the land should the city and landowner be unable to reach an agreement. The final decision to file a complaint and subsequently take the land will return for council to approve should an agreement not be reached.
According to Law Director John Green, the letter is a notice that allows the process to begin without formally filing a complaint in common pleas court.
On behalf of Stine, Troy resident Joe Jackson attended the meeting to question council regarding why Stine’s land is being appropriated, especially since Stine’s land is outside of the city limits.
“He (Stine) doesn’t want any part of this; the city acquiring or imminent domain. And there’s ample acreage within the city limits that they’re not doing anything with and he wants to know why his property is being taken when there’s ample places within the city,” said Jackson.
According to City Manager Timothy Eggleston, the city has been in communication with Stine regarding studies and appraisals done for the land and has come to the conclusion that Stine’s land is the best location based on numerous factors, which he did not elaborate on during the meeting.
“No body sitting here wants their property taken by imminent domain and he’s not even in the city limits. I think he’s seen as the weak link because he doens’t live in the state or locally and it’s an easy strong-arm tactic to take his property,” said Jackson.
The city has no desire to use imminent domain and would hope for Stine to come to an agreement with the city to sell this portion of his property.
“Since, I believe, 2019, the city has been working on acquiring land for substation number four. It is critical to our electric infrastructure that we get this done as soon as possible,” said Director of Municipal Services Eric Mack. “They (city’s electric consultants) looked at all the sites in the area that we need the substation and have essentially given us this is the best location, looking at many different factors, for a new substation.”
The next resolution passed by council is a resolution of necessity to improve sidewalks, curbs and gutter and driveway aprons on Donn Davis Way, Teakwood Road and Hyatt Street.
Next, the council approved the City Manager to enter into a settlement agreement with Robinson Pipe Cleaning in a case captioned Robinson Pipe Cleaning Company v. Northern Area Water Authority, et al. 2021.
This settlement came about after Robinson Pipe Cleaning Company had to cease work in the city, followed by a dispute regarding payment. Over a period of time it was determined that both sides of the issue would simply walk away, neither side would pay the other any dollar amount the court costs are to be split. According to Green, the only caveat is that there is a disparagement agreement meaning the city will not comment when approached about Robinson Pipe Cleaning Company.
Next, council approved a resolution allowing Eggleston to enter into a contract with Finfrock Construction, out of Covington, for the city’s Wagon Wheel Drive Improvement Project. This project includes the addition of two lanes to Wagon Wheel Drive to lessen the strain of traffic and make entering and exiting the park and aquatic center easier.
Only one resolution failed on Tuesday evening, and that was a resolution to direct the city manager to move ahead with a full-time fire department. This resolution, if passed, would allow Eggleston to increase part-time wages in the Emergency Services Department, provide a response from the Labor Attorney regarding Civil Service Rules pertaining to the EMS Department and to hire three captains and 12 firefighters over the course of the next five years. This plan includes a shift schedule of 24 hours on and 48 hours off.
“We made the decision back in September to move money to fund a full-time fire department, it is my belief that this is the most expedient manner to fully fund the fire department within the parameters of the budget without the risk of causing a subsequent tax increase for the citizens. I believe that it will be able to implement the chief’s strategy of a total of seven to eight personnel per day at the fire department with five full-time firefighters and two to three part-time employees,” said Ryan Liddy. “Again, this is within the restraints of our budget, I believe it is our best foot forward and would urge council to support this resolution.”
The resolution failed in a 4-3 vote with council members Robert Schwab, Douglas Slagel, Greg Enslen and Mayor Mike McFarland voting against the resolution.
All four members agree with Liddy that a full-time fire department is necessary, but expressed the same concern, that passing this resolution as is neglects Fire Chief Cameron Haller’s authority over his department and shows that the council does not back the city’s fire chief.
Haller’s initial plan, which was approved by Monroe Township Trustees, included hiring four captains and shifts of 24 hours on with 72 hours off.
“No where in the charter does it grant council permission to dictate to our chiefs — whether it be fire, police, public services or planning — on how to run their department. Our fire chief presented a plan, after much soul searching, he’s the one who came up with the plan, he’s the one we ought to look up to, he knows more than we do and if it doesn’t work in a year, you revise it,” said McFarland.
“I would support the resolution for the reasons that I think that we need to be fiscally conservative, that we have an obligation to the city and its citizens to provide central services that this is meant to implement right away. I think there’s been considerable discussion, this has been over the long term,” said President Kathryn Huffman. “I’m fully in support of a full-time department without question. I think we should begin hiring people, there’s some incidents recently that brought this to the forefront and I think that, at the urging of the chief of fire, that we should move ahead and start the hiring process. Even if that means putting some influence on to increase wages for the part-time personnel so we can bring on more people so that he can adequately staff his shifts.”
Huffman found that the 24 hours on and 48 hours off shift schedule is parallel to other cities nearby and believes that if that shift schedule does not attract enough employees that going to the schedule of 24 hours on and 72 hours off will be easier than starting there and moving backwards.