By Linda Dillman
Providing financial stability for the Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District found the mayor and some city council members disagreeing regarding the amount the city is willing to dedicate and how.
Canal Winchester City Councilman Will Bennett said $83,000 would not only fund an executive director position for the district, but also cover benefits, retirement, Medicare, and workers compensation.
According to the proposed ordinance, in 2021, the amount is pro-rated at $18,750. In 2022, it is $75,525; jumping to $77,700 in 2023; dropping to $73,250 in 2024; $47,450 in 2025 and prorated in 2026 at $21,000.
Mayor Mike Ebert said city, council, and school district representatives worked throughout the spring and summer in drafting a job description for the JRD director.
“I think it was a very good job description and we came up with a salary range,” said Ebert to council members Jill Amos and Bennett. “Everybody agreed to it, but then at the last (council) meeting you’re coming back asking for $83,000 which wasn’t even thought of. In those meetings, you asked the three of us if you had our support. Based on that, you did. It’s hard for us to back it now.”
Bennett said it was his mistake to not include benefits, retirement, etc. and said it might have been an assumption on his part that those costs would be included.
Councilman Pat Lynch said, in the original conversation, funding for the JRD did not tag a specific use, but to be given to the organization for them to use as they see fit.
Canal Winchester Finance Director Amanda Jackson said the pro-rated amount, as it was written in the original agreement, does not kick in until year four and, if a recreation district levy is placed on the ballot in the future, it would take almost two years to start collecting revenue.
“We’re spending an awful lot of time focusing on the job when this agreement is purely us giving them money,” said Jackson.
to committing to funding $83,400 for the next five years with a pro-rated amount for the remainder of 2021.
Resident Jackie Marion is afraid of pedestrians being struck while crossing the intersection at High and Waterloo streets could one day turn into a fatality if the city does not take action.
“We’re having some issues,” said Marion who reported a recent incident included a driver turning left onto Waterloo who almost drove into a family of four crossing the street. “She came within two feet of shattering their lives and hers. The problem is the crosswalk. I’m the last person in the world who wants to put paint on those wonderful brick crosswalks, but people just don’t understand them.”
Public Service Director Matt Peoples said the area is an older section and there were different ADA standards at the time. If any type of roadwork were done in the area now, the crosswalk would need to be brought up to compliance.
Peoples said it is not only the crosswalk, but also driver and pedestrian behavior that goes along with the safety of the area. He said the city has flashing signs in areas throughout the city and drivers still fly by them.
“We have our speed trailer out and it’s flashing 40 in a 25 mph zone,” said Peoples. “It doesn’t impact certain people.”
Councilman Chuck Milliken suggested target enforcement in changing behavior.
Lynch said, in the long term, the whole downtown area needs to be part of a Capital Improvements Project.
“In the short term, lets paint some lines out there,” said Lynch. “Make it safe for our residents and call it a day.”
Councilman Mike Coolman noted paint in a well-traveled area like the downtown does not last. He felt flashing, solar-powered signs are effective.