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Council votes to allow deer hunting in certain areas
Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 02:28 PM

News Staff Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Council made a decision on deer hunting in various parts of the city, but efforts to speedily adopt legislation creating two 15-hour parking attendants came to a halt at Monday’s City Council meeting after a police union representative indicated such a move could easily precipitate a contract dispute.

Council voted 5 to 2 to adopt Councilman Burt Hanson’s ordinance permitting bow hunting of deer in certain areas of the city. Hunting will only be permitted between Oct. 1 and March 31, and property owners in the hunting zones have to obtain permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. An owner may hunt or allow someone else to hunt on his or her property.

The hunting areas are along the city’s east, south and north fringes.

Councilman Chuck Dice and Councilwoman Anna Kinnard voted against the measure. Afterward, Dice said he was not against doing something about the deer problem, but had never been given satisfactory answers about the city’s liability.

“Every time I ask, I get the same answer, that ‘Anybody can sue anybody for anything,’” Dice said.

In addition, Dice said he felt unsure about safety issues with the legislation, a concern Kinnard said she shared. If hunters had been required to hunt from tree stands, she said, the legislation would have been much more acceptable.

The parking issues were divided into two: Personnel, and fines and regulations.

Council unanimously adopted two ordinances prepared by the joint efforts of Councilman John Fair and the business community’s downtown parking committee. The two ordinances reaffirmed the parking fine structure council adopted in fall of 2003 and set regulations for parking in the central business district. Under the new regulations, fines increase substantially, doubling in some cases if payment is not made within five days.

Free parking will be available in a three-hour block, with the exceptions of the areas in front of City Hall, the Post Office and the southwest quadrant of Public Square, which is occupied by First-Knox National and National City banks. The parking there is limited to 30 minutes.

Council voted unanimously to adopt these measures; however, there is still no one to enforce them. While Hanson asked council to consider moving forward with his legislation to create two 15-hour-per-week parking meter attendants, he received no support.

Before the legislative session, FOP union negotiator Dennis Sterling came forward to state the union’s concerns. Two full-time parking meter attendants are included in the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union. The elimination of those positions and subsequent substitution of two part-time positions to do the same work is not in compliance with the agreement.

The union understands the city’s need to cut back on expenses, Sterling said, and would be satisfied with having both full-time positions re-created and only one filled. The person would not have to spend 40 hours on the parking duties alone, but could handle other duties as well.

Moving forward with Hanson’s legislation and having two part-time positions, however, would be a violation of the agreement.

“It’s not a threat, it’s just how you do it right,” Sterling said.

Another possibility is the option of reopening negotiations on this single point. However, the union does not have to go along with whatever plan the city ends up proposing.

Council members pointed out the city had already cut back the number of parking meters, and planned to leave only 70. Hanson said the downtown business community needs monitoring now. Councilwoman Nancy Vail suggested the downtown merchants investigate taking over monitoring themselves.

Sterling estimated it may take between 45 to 60 days for the city and union to come to any modified agreement.

The issue of how to pay for the attendants also arose. Hanson said he had determined that given the number of meters the city would have left, approximately $30,000 a year would be available for the attendants. The costs of the two 15-hour positions would be approximately $25,000 or $26,000 per year. He did not provide any details of how he had arrived at those figures.

Council gave Hanson’s ordinance a first reading and asked Safety-Service Director Joel Daniels to work with Sterling to find a solution.

Council also unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing a 10 year, 100 percent tax abatement to Ver-Mac Industries. The agreement calls for Ver-Mac to make a $1.1 million investment in its existing facility. However, Ver-Mac did not agree to any add any specific number of new jobs. Area Development Foundation President Clint Compton said new positions are hoped for, but are “speculative.”

The Woodward Development Corp. requested a waiver of its $2,700 tap fee. The installation of two new meters for the building is being held up while this matter is sorted out, WDC President Pat Crow said.

Most of council seemed reluctant to approve a waiver; however, councilwoman Anna Kinnard proposed contributing $200 per person to assist the Woodward, rather than putting city funds toward it. Mayor Richard Mavis and Councilman John Fair agreed, leaving a need for another 10 contributors.

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