(Posted Sept. 29, 2016)
By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling village council is looking into participating in a state-led online program focused on fiscal transparency.
Ohiocheckbook.com is an initiative of State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office that gives government entities a way to show the public exactly how their tax money is being spent. The free tool puts all financial transactions of participating entities online for the public to see.
“I was wondering how the board felt about Ohio Checkbook and if this was something we were interested in participating in,” said Diane Spradlin, council member, at council’s Sept. 26 meeting. “A lot of communities around here are doing this, and in light of the recent issues we have faced, this would be great for the community.”
In July, Joe Johnson, Mount Sterling’s former village administrator, was charged with 30 felony accounts, including the theft of nearly $1 million from the village during his four years as administrator.
Council members agreed to learn more about Ohio Checkbook and will discuss it in more detail at a later meeting.
Visit www.OhioCheckbook.com for more information.
Progress on projects
John Martin, current village admini-strator, informed council of the timeline for improvements at Mason Park. The to-do list for October includes: working on drainage upgrades; ordering dugouts, benches and batting cages; pouring con-crete for the basketball court; and surveying the layout for the walking path.
Scheduled for November is excavation and paving of the walking path and erection of the dugouts and fence.
Funding for the project, which also includes playground equipment, comes from a federal Community Development Block Grant secured by the Madison County commissioners.
Martin also updated council members on the progress of several other projects, including the new water treatment plant.
“So far, we have obligated $418,959 of the $660,000 contingency we had built into the project,” he said. “At no time will we exceed this contingency as we plan to live within the abided budget.”
Despite rain delays in the past few weeks, the plant is still on track to be completed by late June 2017.
An internal meeting will take place in the next few weeks regarding the construction of a veterans memorial in the center of town. The village has secured neighborhood revitalization funds through the Community Development Block Grant program for the project.
“The cost and design are still a bit fluid for this,” Martin said. “However, after this meeting we hope to start the process of moving forward with this project.”
In another update, Martin noted, “We also have been in contact with AEP to replace street lights that are out. This is the responsibility of AEP to fix, but we are still waiting to hear from them.”
Mayor Lowell Anderson reported that $500,000 has been collected in taxes to date in 2016, compared to a little over $400,000 in 2015.