City discusses adding park ranger

By Cecilia Fox -

TIPP CITY — At their meeting Monday night, the Tipp City Council discussed the possibility of hiring a park supervisor.

Doug Slagel, the parks board chairman, made the case for a park supervisor or ranger at council’s work session.

The parks advisory board recommends the creation of a part-time park supervisor position to oversee the safety and usage of the city’s parks. This person would report to parks superintendent Jim Asher and Tipp Monroe Community Services (TMCS) director Kathy Taylor.

The proposed supervisor or ranger would work mostly weekends during peak park usage, from April to October. A part-time supervisor would work between 20-24 hours a week and be paid about $10-12 an hour, Slagel suggested. Ideally, this person would be a retired police officer, he said.

“We need some eyes and ears down in our park system,” Slagel said. He pointed out that the parks board has noted issues with scheduling conflicts for fields at Kyle Park and vandalism of park equipment and bathrooms.

According to Slagel, the city’s park system has grown big enough that a supervisor is needed. The parks are not just used by residents, but also out of town visitors, he said.

He cited instances where people were charging for lessons or hosting tournaments on city fields without first registering these events with TMCS.

“We thought this was a good idea seven years ago,” Slagel said. Since then, use of the parks has only grown as horse trails and a disc golf course have been added, he said.

Other communities — like Vandalia and Troy — have parks and recreation departments, parks superintendent Asher said. In Tipp City, TMCS handles the scheduling of events and programs in the park.

“[Other cities] have a recreation person that does that type of job, where they will go out and supervise the parks for the evening, or they will tell you who’s supposed to be on diamond four or diamond five,” Asher said. “That’s really what we need, I think.”

Members of council asked if a supervisor was needed to handle administrative duties or as security. Council president Joe Gibson pointed out that the city’s police patrol the parks regularly.

Council asked for more information regarding the issue, including how many runs the police department make to the parks. City Manager Timothy Eggleston suggested that council and staff could revisit and fine tune the suggestion during the budget process.

Council made a motion allowing city staff to proceed with a traffic study on Weller Drive. This study will determine whether it is possible to remove the barrier on Weller Drive without changing the current traffic light timing. If the study should show that new timing is needed, a second phase of the study would begin to see what changes need to be made.

Council also approved a resolution hiring an outside firm to complete material testing services for the County Road 25A reconstruction project. The city will contract with Quality Control Inspection Inc. for inspection services at a cost of $197,415.

Because of the number of projects currently ongoing, the city inspector does not have the time to handle this project as well, the city manager explained. The Ohio Department of Transportation will reimburse up to 73 percent of the cost for the inspection and material testing.

The city awarded the Walnut Street utility replacement project to Double Jay construction at a cost of $717,740. The city only received one bid for the Walnut Street project and will be rebidding the Rosalyn Street portion of the project, since that portion did not receive any bids.

In other business, finance director John Green reviewed the city’s mid-year financial report.

“Things are overall in line with the budget,” Green said. As of June 30, general fund receipts total $3,326,860 and expenses at $3,209,285.

General fund receipts are up in all categories, Green said. If the current trend holds, the city’s income tax revenues will be more than $200,000 above budget.

All of the most significant aquatic center revenue sources are down as of the end of June, thanks mostly to a rainy summer so far. The center is down $400 on season passes, $1,115 on daily admissions, and $2,450. According to Green, the numbers are down only slightly from last year, which he noted was a historically bad year for the pool.

Water fund collections are up significantly, but still 7 percent below budgeted levels. This can also be attributed to the rainy weather, since revenues typically go up during the summer as people use more water on their lawns.

The city was awarded the State Auditor’s Award with Distinction for a clean 2014 audit Monday night. Mayor Pat Hale accepted the award on behalf of the city.

“It’s important to note that this puts Tipp City in a very select group. Fewer than 5 percent of all entities that are audited annually are eligible,” a representative of the state auditor’s office said.

Council members thanked Green and his staff for all their hard work.

By Cecilia Fox