Piqua Commission considers combining committees


By Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — Piqua residents and city commissioners debated a proposed ordinance aimed to combine the Piqua Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) and the Planning Commission Tuesday evening during the Piqua City Commission meeting.

The debate centered on an amendment to Chapter 32 of the Piqua Code of Ordinances. This would eliminate possible duplication of staffing between the two departments but could potentially lead to a conflict of interest.

Chris Schmiesing, economic development director of Piqua, introduced the second reading of the ordinance to the commissioners.

“In both instances, the intent is to make it more practical for the bodies to function during periods of expansion and contraction of the membership, and also to allow to more effectively and efficiently deliver the services that they’re responsible for providing,” Schmiesing said.

Ward Four Commissioner Tom Hohman inquired about the number of members on one of the committees. “We just had a presentation where it was implied that the Board of Zoning Appeals has quorum issues. Do you have any data to support if they’ve regularly failed to reach quorum last year?” Hohman asked Schmiesing.

Schmiesing said there were at least two meetings in recent months where business couldn’t be conducted due to a lack of quorum. Adding the BZA was down to two members.

Multiple residents requested the BZA and the Planning Commission remain separate entities.

“I suggest that we keep these boards separate,” Jeff Grimes said. “A lot of times if we rush through stuff things slip through the cracks.”

“Professionally, I like all of the people on the planning commission, but I disagree with them on a lot of things, and I don’t think we need to give them even more power than what they were originally elected into, so I think you should leave it the way it is,” Adam Seas said.

The third and final reading of this ordinance will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

In new business, the commissioners unanimously approved the following resolutions:

• To establish a Piqua City Commission 2024 calendar of meetings. The resolution states the first commission meeting of the year shall be held on the first Tuesday in January, beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting schedule can be found on the city of Piqua government page.

• To approve an investment policy for Piqua. The city would like to ensure that interest earnings on fund balances are maximized while still preserving liquidity and safety for the city’s finances. Passage will allow the city to enact a new investment policy.

• To retain the services of National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) to provide software and professional services for Piqua. In October 2015, Power System Engineering (PSE) completed a technology work plan for Piqua. The two highest priorities PSE recommended were replacing Piqua’s Springbrook Customer Information Systems (CIS) and implementing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The budget is $350,000.

• To authorize the execution of the 2023 WASG Power Pool Participant Schedule with American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP).

• To authorize the city manager to re-appropriate the fixed number of sworn staff in the Piqua Police Department from 35 to 38 sworn police officers for the municipal benefit of the Piqua Police Department and Piqua City Schools. The expenditure will be included in the 2024 appropriations.

• To authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with Piqua City Schools for the city of Piqua Police Department to employ, train, evaluate, and supervise three school resource officers for the mutual benefit of the city of Piqua and Piqua City Schools. It was included in the 2024 appropriations.

The commissioners also listened to the second readings of the following ordinances:

• To make an appropriation for the Piqua for 2024. This ordinance is required to pass the 2024 budget by the end of 2023.

• To adjust fees and revenue for the Echo Lake Golf Course. The proposed amendments in the ordinance would include adjustments to fees for the course.

• To adopt a new schedule relating to salaries of full-time non-union employees.

• To adopt a new schedule relating to salaries of temporary employees. Wage adjustments would be adjusted following state minimum wages.

The next commission meeting will be moved up one week to Tuesday, Dec. 12. Before the scheduled meeting, there will be a reception at 4:30 p.m. for Mayor Cindy Pearson and Ward Five Commissioner Kazy Hinds, whose terms as commissioners will end on Dec. 31, 2023.

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