Piqua Commissioners table small business grants

PIQUA – The Piqua City Commissioners held a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, to authorize resolutions where they tabled two resolutions involving the small business grant program.

The first resolution involved an increase of $150,000 to the program to provide grants to 25 local small businesses. The program was originally budgeted for $350,000, but according to Chris Schmiesing, community and economic development director, due to the “overwhelming response,” the Economic Development Incentive Committee requested an increase in funds.

Commissioner Chris Grissom asked Schmiesing where the additional funds would come from. Schmiesing responded that the funds would come from currently unutilized American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Grissom requested more information on where the funds would come from and possibly what programs that could have used the funding.

“I’m definitely not against helping our small businesses, I really want to do that, but I just need more information on where these funds are coming from. We need to use these funds the best way that we can,” said Grissom. The resolution was tabled with a 4-1 vote with Mayor Cindy Pearson voting against the motion.

The next resolution was subsequently tabled which approved the grants being awarded to the small businesses.

Then, the commissioners authorized the capital improvement plan with a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Jim Vetter and Vice Mayor Kris Lee voting against the resolution. The capital improvement plan includes projects that several departments throughout the city of Piqua ranked by priority. The “capital improvement plan does not appropriate money,” as stated in the resolution.

The plan is in the agenda packet for the meeting and according to Schmiesing, will be uploaded to the city’s website.

Then, the commissioners authorized the purchases of various water treatment chemicals for 2023 for a budgeted total of $302,896. The chemicals are necessary for “normal operations of [the] water treatment plant,” stated in the resolution.

The next resolution was to authorize the temporary manager of the Echo Hills Golf Course provided by the consultant, Hampton Golf, to become a permanent manager with a budgeted salary of $90,000. According to Amy Welker, director of health and sanitation, the manager is working towards becoming a golf professional.

The commissioners authorized a replat of land to combine it into one lot to “prepare for construction of a medical marijuana dispensary,” according to the resolution. The plan is to include a drive-thru layout and a right-of-way along East Ash Street.

One resident came to the podium to speak against the marijuana dispensary saying “Do you really think we need marijuana in this town? Do you think that’s going to bring people to this town?”

Commissioner Chris Grissom and Commission Kazy Hinds informed the resident that a survey for the city was done with “overwhelming positive for bringing that kind of business to town,” said Grissom. Hinds informed the resident that it was medical marijuana and it requires a prescription. Lee discussed the economical benefits of the addition of a dispensary.

Another resolution involved a replat of seven parcels with a total acreage of 17.6 into three parcels. The land is located along North County Road 25A. The resolution was approved.

Then, the commissioners authorized a contract with Avero LLC for third-party IT services which will manage the network remotely. According to City Manager Paul Oberdorfer, the city of Piqua will have a help desk service assistant and a general services director to assist in person. Oberdorfer said that an IT assessment has determined any security risks which the city and the company will work together to patch those risks.

The floor was opened up for public comment. Tom Hudson expressed his opinion on the quality of the videos of the commission meeting, uniform signage across the city in street signs, and Kazy Hinds’ lack of presence at the meetings.

“I think you owe it to the citizens to be here for all the meetings. I think if people have obligations and they can’t change their duties, they’re short-changing the citizens of Piqua,” said Hudson.

During the commissioners’ comments, Kazy Hinds responded to his concern by stating the policy that commissioners must follow which states “absence from three consecutive regular meetings shall operate to vacate the seat of the member unless such absence be authorized or excused by the commission.”

“I’m sorry that he felt that way. I feel that I have done a very ethical job of serving this city,” concluded Hinds. The rest of the commission agreed and thanked her for her work.