As of Monday night, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Delaware County, but the Manchester City Council still opted to take significant precautions against the virus by holding a mostly virtual meeting.
Councilmembers Mary Ann Poynor, Tania Bradley and Connie Behnken each chose to teleconference into the meeting through an application called Zoom while in the council chambers, Councilmembers Bill Scherbring and Dean Sherman, along with Mayor Milt Kramer, City Manager Tim Vick and City Clerk Erin Learn, all practiced the six-foot social distance protocol laid out by health officials.
No members of the public were in attendance, although several did join the virtual meeting online.
The council’s biggest item on the relatively short agenda was passing its budget for the coming fiscal year, which once again includes a lower levy rate.
Kramer said that two years ago, the rate sat at $15.595 per $1,000 of taxable value before dropping to $15.575 for the current fiscal year. For the coming year, the rate is $15.319.
Kramer said Vick and Learn began meeting with department heads in November and December of 2019, which led into special budget work sessions with the council starting in January and February.
“Many people were involved in the preparation of the city budget, including you, the City Council,” Kramer said. “A sincere thanks to all for your effort and time.”
In terms of raw numbers, the overall expected expenditures for next year are projected to be $13,252,828, down $2,377,626 from the current $15,630,454, but Vick said it’s important to keep timing in mind when evaluating those numbers.
Given that the fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, which is during the peak of construction season, Vick said projects might be spread out over two different fiscal years despite them getting completed during the same calendar year.
Due to some technical difficulties with Behnken’s microphone, she was unable to cast a vote, but the budget was passed by a tally of 4-0.
Learn said city staff did not receive any written or oral comments regarding the budget prior to it passing. A full copy of the budget is available on the city’s website.
Vick also informed the council that work has begun on the Highway 13 project and they are currently reviewing a number of items, including whether or not COVID-19 will cause a disruption.
“If there is a shelter in place order, we don’t know how that might impact construction because we’re not sure if that would be considered an essential service,” Vick said.
Given that traffic volume is currently low due to several businesses, like bars, restaurants and salons, being temporarily shut down by order of the Governor, there has been some discussion about starting work on the North Franklin Street and Main Street intersection during this downturn.
“I’m making no guarantees on that, but it is being evaluated,” Vick said.
Project engineer Ryan Wicks said while the city ultimately has say over the project’s scheduling, it is a tough call to make.
“We’re looking at how work can proceed to get River Street wrapped up and whether it makes sense to jump up to the North Franklin and Main Street intersection,” he said.
With a public informational meeting regarding Hwy 13 being canceled due to the pandemic, Vick said he and Wicks are discussing ways to get additional information out to the public.
“Unfortunately, things are changing so fast right now that it’s hard for us to schedule a meeting, especially with the restrictions on (public gatherings),” Vick said.
In the meantime, Vick suggests residents sign up for Manchester’s new notification system.