DANVILLE – Danville Village Council discussed on Tuesday potential uses for funding expected to come to the village through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Mayor Joe Mazzari said it will likely need to be earmarked for infrastructure projects, given the guidelines set forth by the federal government. At the top of his list would be to repair the water line on Market Street – from Main Street down to Family Dollar.
“We know we need to go at least to bridge, because there’s multiple breaks in the line," Mazzari said during a similar council discussion June 21.
The village could also consider upgrading its storm sewer system off of Market Street, near the Flat Run Road intersection, Mazzari said. He'd also like to "refresh" and "resize" the sidewalks along Market Street, while extending them to the village line.
Another use for the funding, Village Administrator Freedom Desich said, could be to complete the installation of the village's water meter system. The entire system would cost roughly $130,000, he said.
Desich was unsure about the total cost of the water, sewer and sidewalk project on Market Street.
"It's gonna be a lot," Mazzari said.
Council seemed on-board with both ideas, pending the cost of each project and the amount of money the village receives. And according to Mazzari, that figure is still unknown.
Danville was originally slated to receive $200,000 from the federal government, according to June estimates from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, but legislation has since been passed in Ohio that has cut funding nearly in half for cities and villages with populations below 50,000 (that funding has instead been awarded to townships originally left out of the program).
This is why Centerburg, which was originally slated to receive $440,000, is now expected to receive $233,175.86. The City of Ashland, population 20,000, recently saw its federal estimate drop from $3.98 million to $2.1 million.
Danville expects to know its funding total soon, Mazzari said. In the meantime, he recommended Tuesday that council members Jeff Furay (head of the water/wastewater committee) and Mike Waldeck (head of the streets committee) meet with village leadership and representatives from Bird & Bull, a Columbus-based contractor, to further discuss potential infrastructure projects this money could be used for.
Mazzari said the village will need to submit a "shovel-ready project" to the federal government for approval by September. The state’s portal to apply for the first round of ARPA funds opened Tuesday.
The funding will come in two payments – half this year, half next year. Governments must appropriate the money by the end of 2024 and spend it by the end of 2026, per federal guidelines.
Park renewal levy headed for fall ballot
Council also on Tuesday passed a resolution authorizing the placement of a park renewal levy on the November ballot.
This is standard for the village every four years, Clerk/Treasurer Laurie Vess said, in order to keep up with the cost of maintaining Memorial Park. The levy, if passed, will not result in a cost increase for residents.
“We need new fencing. We’ve gotta take a tree out, then we’ve gotta plant a new tree because we’re part of the Tree City USA (program)," Mazzari said.
The village hopes to install new basketball nets soon, Desich added, and finish the court resurfacing project by adding a seal coat. Park funds are also used for simpler, more everyday tasks, such as mowing and treating the grass.
"All that’s gonna come out of that (fund)," Mazzari said.
Council considers renegotiating football stadium lease rate
For the last 10 years, the Village of Danville has charged Danville Local Schools a flat rate of $1,000 annually for the use of the football stadium in Memorial Park. The district also pays the electric bill from August to October.
Village council members are now beginning to discuss potentially re-negotiating that rate, citing the desire to strike a more "appropriate" cost-sharing agreement.
“The maintenance of the field and property exceeds that amount ..." Mazzari said after the meeting June 21. "And we’re not saying that they’re rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they certainly could help with some of the maintenance, at least through the contract part of it. That $1,000 isn’t gonna cover from August to November.”
"It doesn’t even cover gas for the mower," Desich added.
The village currently pays for the maintenance of the stadium year-round, and it also foots the water bill. The village recently paid $78,000 for the stadium's new concession stand, Mazzari added.
It's unclear exactly how much money the village spends on the stadium each year, as there are no water meters installed. Council agreed Tuesday to have Desich install water meters on both concession stands and the field, which would allow the village to track its water usage this fall. Desich gladly agreed.
“We have water loss in the village, and the EPA is always on our tail about fixing this and fixing that," he said at the June 21 meeting. "This is a way to monitor where that water is going.”
Monitoring the stadium's water usage would also give the village a figure to factor into a new lease rate for the school district. An annual inflationary increase could also be considered as a part of the new agreement, council members suggested.
"They’ve always been great partners with the village, so we want to continue that relationship ..." Village Solicitor Noel Alden said. "For transparency purposes, we’re just making sure that the cost allocation is appropriate. That’s all we’re doing.”
Councilman Darin Durbin said that while he agreed with the idea of renegotiating the lease rate, the village should be prepared for push-back from the school district on this issue. The rate has stayed the same for 10 years, Durbin noted, and school officials may wonder why it needs to change.
"So the question becomes, ‘Why the increase on that $1,000?’ And I think the idea is that we do have carrying costs involved with the park in general, and we can’t utilize our space during that time – and the village community, which owns that property, can’t utilize that," Alden responded. "And so it seems reasonable that that continues to go up at a real low inflationary level."
Council agreed to have Alden send a letter to Danville Superintendent Jason Snively, expressing the village's desires to renegotiate the rate. Council also agreed the new rate would not take effect until the 2022-23 school year, so that this year could be used to track water usage, communicate with the district, and give school officials time to plan for the change.
“We’re not going to bury this all onto the school. This is a community park," Mazzari said. "But we’re just saying to the school, 'Hey, heads up, we’re looking at this. We’d like to have a discussion with you.' We’ll see where that goes.”