City council tables farmers market ordinanceBy Rachel Mendell
Eddie Lou Meimer, manager of the board of directors for Farmers’ market Management Network, attended the Galion City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Nov. 9, to share her knowledge and experience with Farmers Markets. She explained the work of the Farmers Market Management Network throughout Ohio and urged the council to change some of the pieces of its new Farmers Market Ordinance.
Meimer has been involved in farmers markets for years including those in Westerville, Marion and Chillicothe. The largest one in Worthington boasts 75 vendors and 3,000 customers at peak season.
After reading a letter of support from the president of FMMN, she noted changes she feels are needed to the ordinance including the ability of the city to view a vendor’s books and charging the individual vendor fees to the city. She said of all the farmers markets she is involved in none of them charge fees to the city. There are, however, normally a small fee for a vendor to participate in a farmers’ market, as well as paperwork to submit, assuring that farmers market that the vendor will offer safe and healthy materials.
Mendy Sellman, local producer, also spoke on behalf of farmers markets. She said markets connect local producers and connect people with their local food. Markets are within walking distance of healthy food. The market is a happy atmosphere, she said, and this is something the city can build on.
Julie Fogle of the First Presbyterian Church spoke on behalf of fewer regulations for farmers’ markets as well. Her church feels it is an outreach effort and their location is unique in that residents don’t have to drive to get there. She said there have been no complaints about God’s Little Acre. She feels it is a healthy and safe environment for families, children and the elderly. While her church believes in obeying authority, she feels an ordinance is not necessary. She also reminded the city that God’s Little Acre is on private property.
After discussion, council voted to table the Farmers’ Market Ordinance. The issue was given to the planning, zoning and utilities committee.
The council approved the findings of the fact finder in the case regarding collective bargaining issues with the Fraternal Order of Police and Ohio Labor Council Inc. The bonus (work smart) was removed, but salary increases remained. This is the last contract to be approved. Councilman Walt Kieb noted a savings of $4,200 on the contract with the cost of the fact finder at about $1,400. City Manager Gene Toy said with other costs of the negotiation the city broke even.
Terry Gribble of the Center Y was on hand to give council an update on the Heise Pool activity. Because of the problems at the beginning of the season, three days were lost to repairs, so revenue was a little down from last year. That, and the inclement weather during the season, also created fewer expenses. The pool was open 419 1/2 hour netting $34,024 for the season. The Center Y will be reimbursed $3,371 by the city. Council member Cathy George requested the pool be open before regular hours for lap swimming. Gribble said he would look into it for the 2012 season.
In other business, the council passed a mutual aid agreement for emergency services with the village of Crestline. Appropriation increases were made to cover Westmoor fund payment. A license was granted to the Zimmerman Group LLC to construct the handicap ramp on Harding Way West. The city will purchase a new lime slaker for the water treatment plant.
It was announced that Audrey Brodzinski has resigned as city finance director and Karen Walters will be interim finance director for the time being.
In committee news, Walters reported water and sewer funds at 53 percent which is ahead for this time of year.
Laws and Ordinances took a look and making the 6 a.m. curfew earlier and decided to leave it at 6 a.m. because other area cities had theirs at the same time. The committee is researching how to handle situations where neighbors are sharing electricity with a power cord, which is dangerous. The committee is also looking into regulations regarding recycling and asking for proof of ownership of materials to be recycled, hoping to alleviate theft.
The Planning committee is looking at closing an alley near Atwood, but sees it as difficult since entrances to garages are involved.
A resident spoke before council asking for help in dealing with her electric bill. She had gotten behind because of difficult circumstances, had gone to various agencies looking for help, and none of them could help her. Electric service is now canceled on her home and she has been without electricity for two weeks. She felt she has been unfairly treated. Council member Roberta Wade requested Toy look into the situation, to which he agreed.
The next meeting of the Galion City Council will be Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public is encouraged to attend.