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Divided Dayton Council Votes on Budget, New City Building Funds

The Dayton city council was divided Tuesday night on votes related to its 2019-20 budget and funds to explore a second option for a new city building.

The next fiscal year budget includes a 3 percent raise for city employees.

The budget was supported by council members Tammy Cornett, Denny Lynn, and Jeff Volter, and opposed by Joe Neary and Scott Beseler. Councilman Bill Burns was not present.

“I’m taking the same stand that I did last time,” Neary said. “I’m voting against the budget because of the $77,000 that is being taken out of the park fund. That’s roughly 70 percent of the park tax income to pay for a park director and public works, which should be billable hours.”

Neary said that residents are complaining that there are no activities for youth and that the city’s five parks need to be fixed up.

“When three quarters of the budget is gone, there’s no chance we’re going to be able to do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, in another divided vote, council gave its approval to spending up to $25,000 to study a second location for a potential new city building.

The city has actively taken steps to construct a new city building at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Berry Street, but some members of council are opposed to that location. For months, there has been chatter about a potential second location, though it has yet to be identified publicly. 

The current building on Sixth Avenue is cramped and dated, and city council meetings have moved from there to the Board of Education building to offer the old chamber as additional space to city staff.

Cincinnati-based KZF Design conducted a $35,000 feasibility study for the Sixth and Berry location and estimates that costs of a new building there would be between $5.5 and $6.8 million.

The second option emerged earlier this year.

Governments are permitted by state law to discuss real estate transactions privately while they are being negotiated.

As for the new expense of $25,000 to explore the second site, council voted 3-2 in favor, with Neary, Volter, and Beseler for, and Lynn and Cornett against.

Bellevue-based SHP Leading Design will conduct a feasibility study for the second site as well as a cost estimate on how the building could be converted.as absent.

Neary said he supports research of the mystery property because the city needs to do its “due diligence” and explore all options to secure the best financial option.

“Any business decision has got to have data,” he said. “I don’t want to end up in a would’ve, should’ve, could’ve scenario.”

City administrator Michael Giffen recommended “not wasting” up to $25,000 on this new study. 

“It’s financially unfeasible,” he said. “Also, (staff) has taken a look at the space, it’s 11,000-square-feet in two floors and it’s not all usable space. Also there will be deed restrictions. It will be money wasted just to arrive at the conclusion I have now.”

Councilman Lynn agreed.

“We have land (at Sixth and Berry) that we own outright,” he said. “And what about parking in the area? We’d have to end up purchasing another chunk of property from the Diocese.”

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor