West Milton declares state of emergency

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — The village of West Milton has officially declared a state of emergency, joining a growing list of municipal governments that have issued similar declarations in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19.

“Union Township has already done it,” municipal manager Matthew Kline said. “Miami County has already done it; the city of Troy is getting ready to do it. Tipp City is getting ready to do it, and so is Covington; all of the big cities have done it already.”

West Milton mayor Anthony Miller issued an executive order declaring the state of emergency during village council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 24, which was held remotely by teleconference.

The emergency declaration will allow village officials to suspend water and sewer shut-off notices for residents affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration also suspends municipal purchasing and contracting requirements, and provisions of the West Milton Code if it is needed to continue the village’s payroll and pay vendors during the emergency. Declaring an emergency now could also make it easier for the village to secure any available federal or state aid related to the COVID-19 outbreak later.

“For us, the most important is suspending the delinquent penalties and shut-off fees,” Kline said. “This would codify it; we can turn to this and say we had the authority, based on this declaration.”

“We don’t anticipate any emergency purchases whatsoever,” he said, “but because it’s so hard to have a council meeting that’s open to the public right now.”

Council members also discussed the possibility that income tax revenues could come in late this year, due to the extended federal tax filing deadline on July 15. The village is now planning several budget cuts to help offset any lost revenue.

“This is completely different then anything else we’ve ever experienced,” Kline said. “I’m worried about our revenues for the remainder of the year. The best way to combat that is to start making expenditure cuts.”

The village will reduce its number of police officers from nine to eight, and will not hire a zoning inspector as previously planned. Several municipal projects have also been put on hold temporarily, including a large paving project that was supposed to take place in the village this summer. Altogether, the cuts should result in a total savings of around $400,000 that will not be spent.

“We’re planning on not doing any of the large projects at the park, that’s on hold,” Kline said. “We’re also recommending to not go forward with paving this year. The one project that we will be doing is the culvert on south Main, and the S-turn. It’s in really bad shape, and it really needs to be done.”

Council members also discussed the possibility of crack-sealing several roads this year to put off paving. Dewar and Lowery would be crack-sealed, along with the entire Stone Meadows plat.

Council members also heard an update regarding a special volunteer committee created to help manage the COVID-19 outbreak. The committee currently has approximately 30 volunteers, who are available to assist with anything from grocery store trips to picking up prescription medications.

“I expect since we had the order come down officially at midnight last night, that this will start picking up,” volunteer committee member Scott Fogle said. “More folks will be calling in requesting services.”

Council members also made plans to keep their next meeting scheduled for April 14. “We’ll keep it on the calendar for right now, and wait until after April 6 to see what the governor does,” Kline said. “We have no pending legislation for council right now. We’re putting rezoning on the back burner, until the public can come to a meeting.”

Allows officials to suspend water, sewer shut-off notices