VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler chamber of Commerce held its annual breakfast meeting on Tuesday morning and nominated candidates for its Board of Directors for 2017-2020.
The meeting began with a moment of silence to remember Board of Education President Bruce Sucher who died unexpectedly on Friday.
Members of the Chamber will be asked to select three candidates from a slate of five nominees: Betty Dankworth of Koorsen Fire & Security, David Bucher of Sutton/Dalco Auto Leasing, Julia Gearhart of Vandalia Shopping Center, Mike Thein of Thein Financial Group, and Don Schweitzer of DayAir Credit Union.
Ballots will be mailed by March 27 and should be returned by April 10.
The Chamber also recognized 11 businesses for joining the Twenty and Over club with 20+ consecutive years of Chamber membership. A complete list can be found accompanying the picture with this article.
Following the nominating process, representatives from the City of Vandalia, Butler Township, and the Vandalia-Butler City Schools gave a review of major events of 2016 and looked forward to projects for 2017.
Trustee Mike Lang noted that Ken Betz has joined the Township’s Board of Trustees after the resignation of Nick Brusky who took a position in the federal government. The seat Betz holds is up for election this November as is Lang’s. Both have stated their intention to be candidates.
Lang thanked voters for passing the Township’s police levy last fall and noted that funds from the levy are the first increase for the Police Department since 1989. The department has since hired Chief John Porter and hired three additional full-time police officers.
The police department took nearly 14,000 calls for service in 2016.
In the fire department, Lang noted the delivery of two new staff vehicles and said a new fire engine is expected to be delivered in the Fall of 2017.
Road projects for 2017 include phase two of the Willowbrook Subdivision resurfacing project and resurfacing a portion of Meeker Road.
Lang reported that residents should receive an offer letter for electrical aggregation in early June. That letter will also allow residents to opt-out of the program. Those taking part should see savings on electricity starting in July.
Finally, Lang reminded those in attendance that the Township will celebrate its bicentennial this year with several different events.
Vandalia-Butler City Schools
Superintendent Bradley Neavin presented the working draft of the district’s Community 2021 Strategic Plan that is currently under development. That strategic plan vision is “Our Children, Our Community – We are Aviators!” and has a mission of “empowering students to be aviators for life with capabilities, resiliency, and resources wherever they soar.”
Neavin said that the plan has five broad strategic goals
- Sustain Academic Excellence
- Hire, Develop, and Retain Staff Talent
- Assure Stakeholder Engagement
- Promote Local Governance
- Maintain a Future Facilities Plan
Treasurer Eric Beavers spoke about Sucher’s leadership on the Board of Education and his strong belief in local control of schools as well as adequate, and fair, funding from the state.
City of Vandalia
Vandalia City Manager Jon Crusey gave the final presentation of the day. Crusey noted that the city’s Fire Division had hired a full-time captain’s position as a Health & Safety Officer, implemented an occupational cancer awareness program, and began a VIP customer assistance program.
Since 2014 the Fire Division has been taking steps to increase awareness of cancer risks for firefighters as well as increasing preventative measures. The city has also implemented a computerized exposure tracking system.
He also reported that a new fire engine will be in service within the next few weeks.
The Vandalia Division of Police will equip all its officers with body-worn cameras in 2017. Two patrol officers field tested cameras in 2016.
Crusey also reported that the city will upgrade its aging 911 telephone system. The new system will more accurately show dispatchers the location of callers on wireless devices than the current one. The system is also capable of receiving text messages.
Finally, Crusey took aim at a proposal in Governor Kasich’s state budget for fiscal years 2018-19. That proposal, unless removed, will require all businesses to file their net profit tax returns through the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG). Crusey said that businesses already have the option to file through the OBG and 90% of them choose not to due to the system’s operational shortfalls.
In addition, the state will charge municipalities a one-percent fee for collecting taxes, before distributing it quarterly. Currently, tax revenue is received throughout the year.
“Governor Kasich’s proposal would confiscate income tax revenue approved by Vandalia City Council and the residents of Vandalia, convert it to a ‘state’ tax, then return a portion to the City three or four months later,” Crusey said.
Crusey said the one-percent fee will cost the city around $45,000 but he fears more revenue will be lost due to the state’s inefficiency in collecting and enforcing the city’s tax code.
“Ask any school district with an income tax how happy they are with how the state collects and enforces it,” Crusey said.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.