Piqua Commission OKs amended 2023 budget


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

PIQUA — Piqua City Commissioners and Piqua residents contemplated city funding, including the Echo Hills Golf Course during the Tuesday Piqua Commission meeting on Nov. 21.

The commission passed an emergency ordinance, which Piqua Finance Director Jerry O’Brien, explained, “We’re required to present and pass the amended 2023 annual budget by the end of the year to ensure we’re in compliance with budgetary law. This ordinance amends the annual appropriations ordinance to take into account changes that have occurred and to reflect more accurate year-end estimates.”

O’Brien added that the commission normally passes this ordinance at the last meeting of the year but requested to waive the usual second and third readings.

“This will allow staff to make the changes in the accounting system in preparation for the year-end,” O’Brien said.

After questions earlier in the meeting from concerned citizens, Ward Four Commissioner Jim Vetter inquired about the funding of Echo Hills Golf Course.

“So, the question that was asked earlier was, ‘Are we making money on the golf course?’” And the answer is no. And the history over the last 10 years, I think, would indicate that a significant amount of money has been extended at the end of the year to make sure that the golf budget reaches balance or neutrality, I guess. Is that correct?” Vetter asked.

Amy Welker, assistant city manager, said the city of Piqua is lowering the transfer fund of the Echo hills from $400,000 to $100,000.

“So that’s a significant increase to the viability of the course,” Welker said.

During the public comments section, community members raised the issue of continuing to fund the golf course at the expense of other city-funded projects.

“If the golf course didn’t make money, the reason that we got rid of the swimming pool is that it didn’t make money, so I feel like the younger generation have been looked over once again,” Jeff Grimes said.

“The golf course is a beautiful facility,” Valerie Mullikin said. “My organization does golf scrambles there; we have a great experience, but if we are running out of money, why aren’t we closing the golf course one or two days a week like we used to do the swimming pool?”

The four commissioners in attendance unanimously voted to approve the emergency ordinance and waive the second and third readings.

In other business Ward Four Commissioner Tom Hohman requested a change to public comment of meetings after new business.

“It seemed like a model that worked for a lot of previous commission meetings, and it was a recent change.

Commissioners Hohman and Vice Mayor Kris Lee voted to approve the amendment, while Mayor Cindy Pearson and Commissioner Vetter voted no. Ward five commissioner Kazy Hinds was not in attendance, and the amendment failed.

In other business, the commission unanimously passed the following resolutions:

• To authorize the purchase order to Miami Valley Risk Management Association for insurance purchase. This partnership is covered through the Alliance Insurance Broker network.

• To authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with the Springcreek Township Board of Trustees, which authorizes the finance department to pay Springcreek Township property taxes on property annexed by the city.

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

• To make an appropriation for the Piqua for year 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.

• To combine the Board of Zoning with the Planning Commission. This would eliminate possible duplication of staffing between the two departments but could potentially lead to a conflict of interest.

Piqua residents also continued to express concern about the safety of the city’s water resulting from Energy Storage Response Group’s battery burn testing, which was halted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA) in September.

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