Council discusses cancellation of festival

TROY — Troy City Council discussed the Troy Strawberry Festival Board of Director’s decision to cancel the festival for the second year due to the ongoing pandemic.

The board announced Saturday the festival would not go on in 2021, citing financial reasons and a possible shortage of volunteers.

Council member Todd Severt asked if the board had reached out to the city to ask for help with the economic concerns of putting on the festival.

“I’m just really concerned with the viability of this downtown with a lot of the things that are happening, the struggles they have had because of this pandemic,” Severt said during the Monday meting.

Public Service and Safety Director Patrick Titterington said staff did have discussions with the Strawberry Festival director on numerous occasions and did offer support, as recently as March 29. He said city staff was not aware that Miami County Public Health had provided guidance as late as April 1, and that he believes the city could have offered accommodations and support to organizers.

“Knowing that this was a priority, knowing that time was short, knowing that there were some logistics that particularly the city had to work out, that we would make that a priority,” Titterington said. ” I agree that we were also disappointed at the decision.”

Council member Bill Twiss then said the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) “will bring millions.” Titterington then said, “I’m not going to say millions.”

Council members then discussed supporting nonprofit food trucks throughout the summer at other events with Gov. Mike DeWine having relaxed some restrictions regarding outdoor events on Monday.

“We have been looking at some ways we would involve more food trucks without invading the brick and mortar small businesses and the restaurants and the food offerings that we have in the downtown,” said Titterington, also a member of the Troy Rotary. “Because we are very concerned with the past year, and the way that it has impacted the downtown, if we don’t find ways to bring people back downtown, through activities, through some of the initiatives that council has passed, that it’s going to be a real challenge to come out of 2021.”

Council member Bobby Phillips, a member of Kiwanis, said the organization’s programs have been greatly impacted by the lack of having the festival.

“This is kind of a gut punch at the last minute by the Strawberry (Festival) board, so whatever we can do to assist all of the nonprofits in town that use this as their major fundraiser, that it affects a boatload of kids in our community,” he said. “I know there was a lot of thought given in to this, I just disagree with their decision.”

Also at the meeting, council passed a resolution for salary increases for nine city council members, president of council and the treasurer. The increases are 3 percent in 2022; 2.5 percent in 2023; and 2 percent in 2024. The increases will not go into effect during his or her current term by state law.

The mayor’s, auditor’s and law director’s salaries will increase at the beginning of their new four-year term in 2024. Those increases include 3 percent in 2024; 2.5 percent in 2025; and 2 percent in 2026.

Council also passed a resolution to add 80 hours of sick leave to eligible employees who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, which included 42 full-time employees and 2,542 hours of sick leave. With documentation, the city will now restore their sick time balances.

A resolution to add back the longevity benefit for all non-bargaining unit positions also was OK’d by council. It was eliminated in 2004, but remained in place for union employees. A longevity benefit for hourly employees will be based on 2 percent for every five years of full-time employment with the city with no cap. The same provision is for union employees. The 2021 budget impact will be approximately $64,000.

A resolution to amend salaries for part-time and seasonal employees and add a lead food service position for Miami Shores’ Shoreline restaurant also passed. The lead food service employee will also work with the swimming pool manager and hire workers for concessions and restaurant operations.