THIS. Is Piqua! – Active Living at its finest!

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We talk a lot about “Quality Life” here in Piqua, and we do have a quality life here.  It is up to each one of us to get off the couch and enjoy it! It has been exciting to watch Piqua become an Active Living community, because we do not need to look very far to see our citizens out and about – living actively on a daily basis. We even see folks out running in cold and snowy weather, just because they have the passion and desire to be active and stay active! 

We all hear over and over again that being physically active is important to improve our health and to reduce our risk of developing physical diseases. We also have been told that being physically active has many immediate and long-term health benefits and that regular physical activity can even improve our quality of life! So, it is easy to say that one of the main reasons to get out and be active is to have a quality of life that we can enjoy for many, many years!

We are very lucky to live where we do because we have all sorts of opportunities to get out and be active right outside our front doors. We have over 13 miles of a paved path right here in our community where we can bike, run, and walk. Our paved path is part of the longest path network in entire country, and it is right here in our own backyard! We are seeing more and more of our citizens getting active and as the weather warms up we will see even more out living actively in many parts of our community. In our warmer months, we even see our citizens working out in our local parks and yoga happening in some of our downtown public spaces. Wow, Piqua! We are a Active Living community!  

We also have a National Water Trail flowing right through our community as the Great Miami River was designated as a National Water Trail last year. The Buckeye Trail, which is part of the North Country trail, goes right through our community as well. So in addition to biking, running, and walking…our citizens can also hike, paddle, and kayak right here where they live! I have lived in other places where I had to travel quite a distance to hike or paddle my kayak, and one of the many great things about Piqua is that we can do it right here where we live… never having to travel very far to get out and be active!  

Yes, we are an Active Living community and I have not even begun to mention our  swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, the YMCA & YWCA and all they, and many other fitness centers right here in our community, offer to help our citizens be and stay active.  And, from time to time we even see water-skiers on the Great Miami River!  

Here in the great City of Piqua, we have so many places and ways to get out and be active!  We have a “Quality Life” here in the City of Piqua, so get out and enjoy it. Active Living is who we are, so get out and BE ACTIVE! Active Living…THIS. Is Piqua!

THIS. Is Piqua! – “The Indian Way!”

I spent the afternoon at PCIS (Piqua Central Intermediate School) today judging “Shark Tank” for some 6th graders.  While I was there I noticed this poster on the wall in one of the classrooms.  As I read it, I felt the need to share it with our wider community.  The faculty and staff have worked hard this year to create a wonderful, positive environment at PCIS, and it shows when you walk through the halls of the school.  

“The Indian Way” is just one of the many things they are doing to help guide and form some of our youngest citizens to be the best they can be.  I wanted to share this with our wider community, because I feel “The Indian Way” is something we all could use in our day to day life.  Yes!  THIS. Is Piqua! “The Indian Way”…and may it help to lead all of us, the citizens of Piqua, to also be the best that we can be!  

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Eye on the City – January 2017

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Water…fresh drinking water is VERY important to every community.  We do not need to look far in the news to see the importance of this.  Our neighbors to the north in Flint, Michigan have been dealing with this because of their cost-cutting measures that led to tainted drinking water containing lead and other toxins.  I want you to know that here in the City of Piqua, we have been very diligent over the past years to address EPA requirements to make sure that we do not have happen here what did in Flint, Michigan.  As you may know, the City Commission is voting on two Ordinance’s which have their 3rd reading at our next meeting on January 17th.  

The first Ordinance has to do with rate increases for our water.  The first thing I want to remind our citizens is that our City Charter requires that our utilities be self-supporting.  That means that we can not move money from one enterprise fund to another to help cover the costs.  Our soon to be open new, state of the art water treatment plant is necessary for EPA requirements and will be a huge plus for our citizens and community, but it does cost money and our rates will now rise to pay back the loans we took out for the construction of the plant.  

The second Ordinance has to do with rate increases for our Wastewater.  I agree that no one wants to see rates raised but in my research on both of these Ordinances, the fact is that EPA requirements have changed over time which requires that the city meet the new mandates.  Because of new EPA requirements Wastewater Treatment plant requirements, we must address their concerns and mandates to bring it up to EPA standards.  The plan is for the existing Wastewater Treatment Plant to be upgraded to not only meet EPA SSO (Sanitary Sewer Overflow) requirements but also for new treatment process mandates.  

The truth is that over many years, we have not raised our rates the way we should have on a more consistent basis.  Actually what I discovered was that for over 10 years decades ago our wastewater rates were not raised at all,  and the same with our water rates.  I believe that if we did this on a more consistent basis the truth is they would not be so drastic now…even so this is where we find ourselves.     

The current increase of rates for wastewater is so we are able to show that we can pay the debt service and operation costs for the wastewater treatment plant along with maintaining the wastewater collection system.  If we cannot show that our rates can meet these financial obligations, we will not be awarded a state loan which would require us then to to obtain funding from the bond market resulting in an increase in the debt service and require us to have an even higher wastewater rate increase.

Our current loan application with the state is to repay only the design portion of this project.  The loan repayment requirement is five (5) years.  The rates proposed over the next four years are to help ensure that we can fulfill that obligation.  Without a sufficient repayment plan to our construction loan application would be in jeopardy.  That would mean that we would have to go out for funding on the bond market which certainly would not be at a low  or zero interest rate.

Soon, we will be applying for another loan from the state for the construction portion of the project which would also be a 0-3% interest for a time period of between 20-25 years.  Up to 70% of the construction may be eligible for zero percent financing.  If that loan is approved, we could possibly roll the design loan into the construction loan and finance the total for the 20-25 year period spreading the costs out and preventing higher rate increases. 

As your mayor, I wish there was a better solution, but in speaking to staff at the city in a variety of positions from our City Manager on down to Wastewater Treatment Plant employees, I see no other way to reduce rate increases and still meet our financial obligations in completing the project.  As I said, we  are under the requirement of upgrading the plant per our last issued EPA permit.  Failure to meet this requirement could result in daily fines to the city, and/or loss of our operating permit (which means the state would come in an operate the plant and have full control of rates).

This is a very tough issue, and as I said, I have spent the past two weeks doing my homework and asking questions.  As I am in my first year on the Commission, I have had to bring myself up to date with the history on this project. 

The city has been dealing with this issue of EPA requirements since the early 2000’s and the City Commission was brought into the loop from the beginning.  The city moved forward and in 2014 the Commission authorized the preparation of a facility plan and preliminary engineering report for the improvements needed at our Wastewater Treatment Plant.  There were many work sessions following this to bring the City Commission and Community up to date.  In November of this year, we submitted design documents for the Wastewater Plant upgrade and expansion to the Ohio EPA.  We should have their approval in February or March 2017.

I hate to have this happen because I know this will affect our low income citizens and our senior citizens as well, I feel though if we do not pass this Ordinance now that the rate increases will be even higher for us!  It is not an easy choice but one I feel that we have to make, because if not the consequences will have a much bigger financial impact on our citizens.  Unfortunately from all I have looked at I see no other way around this, and I feel it is in the best interest of our city and will help to move us forward.  Progress costs money, it always does…but I believe the end result will be most beneficial for us in the years to come.

Proclamation for Brock Gessner

Third grade student Brock Gessner has been named as a winner in the Families Matter Essay Contest sponsored through the Family Services of the Greater Dayton Area. Brock’s essay was chosen from hundreds of essays submitted from Dayton and the surrounding area. Brock has been invited to attend the 2016 Annual Awards Breakfast at the Mandalay Banquet Center on November 19th. Congratulations Brock on this great accomplishment!

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