Dayton Council Adopts Meeting Location, Repeals Taxi Ordinance
A comparatively harmonious meeting of the Dayton City Council included the adoption of the city budget, an apology from the mayor for swearing at members of the fire department, a repeal of a short-lived ordinance that could have prevented taxis from operating, and at long last, an agreement on where council will hold its regular meetings.
"Let's move on to other things in the friggin' world," City Councilman Jerry Gifford said in motioning for adoption of an ordinance that establishes the Board of Education building as the regular meeting spot for city council meetings. The meetings moved out of the city building on Sixth Avenue months ago after capacity issues forced the need for a larger venue. Mayor Ken Rankle broke a tie vote of 3-3 to move the meetings to the Board of Ed. building.
But upon the second reading of that ordinance during a meeting at the Board of Ed. building, it was Gifford who changed his vote, and joined Councilmen Virgil Boruske, Bill Burns, and Bobby Allen (who has since resigned) in denying the permanence of the move. He and others on council voiced objection to work having started on renovation of the former council chamber at the city building prior to the official adoption of the move.
That change in vote prompted months of uncertainty and differing ordinances over where to meet, including possibly rotating meetings between the Board of Ed. building and the VFW hall. When a vote was taken at the previous meeting about moving meetings to the VFW, it was discovered that no formal conversation had taken place with the powers-that-be at the VFW, so the ordinance was scrapped.
Then, finally on Tuesday night, at the prompting of city council candidate Joe Neary, the Board of Ed. building was selected unanimously.
"This shell game has a lot of people confused," Neary said.
"It's not a shell game, we all live here in the city," Gifford said. "We should not have moved out of that building except people had nowhere to sit. The way it was done was not correct. We are Dayton City Council and we can't even, we have no identification, we're floating around."
City Administrator Michael Giffen urged council to remain at the Board of Education building as it would help a short staff in not having to move meeting equipment from space to space and because the Board building is well equipped to handle the meetings and the crowds.
Dayton adopted its city budget for fiscal year 2014-15, though Councilmember Penny Hurtt voted against it. She and Mayor Rankle voiced concern over using funds from the surplus to balance it. "I'm concerned over using the surplus and the fact that we're not taking a tax increase," Hurtt said.
"Everybody is hoping on the riverfront to be our so-called life-saver," Rankle said. "That's going to happen, but that's not going to happen for several more years."
"We've been fortunate so far that through the downturn in the economy we've been able to not take such a hit on our real estate taxes," the mayor continued. Developments at Grant Park and River Point were cited as promising, but only 20% of the possible full amount of taxes are being collected in the Grant Park project because of the bonds used to finance it. "We won't realize the rest for another fifteen years."
Taxi ordinance repealed
An ordinance approved recently at the request of Bill Burns was unanimously repealed on Tuesday, with Burns also voting to overturn it. The ordinance targeted taxi cabs with Ohio license plates operating in the city. A resident of Dayton spoke to council and urged the repeal, arguing that taxis would not operate in the city based on the language in the ordinance.
Police Chief Scott O'Brien said that after consulting with the county attorney, he did not believe that his officers would have been able to enforce it, anyway.
Burns apologized for any confusion and said that he made the request for the ordinance in the first place after hearing concerns from a senior citizen.
Mayor apologizes for profanity
Mayor Rankle apologized publicly for using profanity in describing members of the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department. His comments were the subject of a heated Fire Board meeting and the mayor later apologized in a story published by The River City News.
"I feel like I have a responsibility to represent all of you in the best possible way I can," Rankle said. "Oftentimes, it's brought to my attention I don't do that in a proper way. I often get aggravated, get upset, and quite frankly, I can swear like the best sailor in the Navy. I would like to apologize to the residents of Dayton."
Story & photo by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News