Sunbury Village Administrator Dave Martin faces a long recovery after a motorcycle accident last Sunday, Nov. 18, that left him with severe injuries.
Mayor Tommy Hatfield asked those in attendance at the Nov. 20 meeting of Sunbury Village Council to keep Martin in their prayers.
The 62-year-old village administrator reportedly suffered broken ribs, a head injury and possible kidney damage after colliding with a deer at around 5:05 p.m. Nov. 18 while riding southwest on state Route 95 in Knox County.
Martin, who was riding solo, was thrown from his motorcycle, according to the State Highway Patrol post in Mount Vernon. He was flown via helicopter to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where he remained Friday, Nov. 23.
Hatfield said some of Martin's injuries are extensive and will require weeks of treatment. He said was unsure when Martin could return to work but added he could be out for two months or more.
Other village workers will pick up the slack with Martin away, Hatfield said.
Hatfield suggested at a Nov. 7 council meeting that the village give bonuses in December to full-time village employees who haven't had a raise in four years.
The mayor told council members he thinks between $30,000 and $40,000 could be used for the bonuses and paid out next month based on an employee's seniority, work performance and current pay rate.
He said he has met with Fiscal Officer Kathy Belcher and would bring complete numbers, and an explanation of how to pay for the raises, to council's committee of the whole meeting Wednesday, Nov. 28.
"I really don't want to go another year" without raises for employees, Hatfield said. "It's a way for us to reward employees ... without jeopardizing our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers."
Councilwoman Jennifer Witt and other council members seemed to indicate raises are a good idea. Councilmen Joe Gochenour and William Metzler were absent.
"I definitely think there needs to be a measure in place that the employees are being compensated fairly," she said.
The village has about 28 full-time workers. Those employees received bonuses about two years ago as a result of a windfall in income tax money the village received when a resident won a large lottery jackpot.
Those bonuses ranged up to $500 per employee but were not technically considered raises.
Sunbury Village Council approved two emergency resolutions at a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 20: one authorizing a contract expected to save the village more than $40,000 over the next two years on electricity costs and the other helping the village with electricity and natural gas aggregation.
The contract with Border Energy Electric Services, which would begin next year for a two-year period, involves Border supplying electricity for all village facilities, including the wastewater treatment plant.
Border also is negotiating a contract to provide reduced electricity rates for residents and businesses in the village.
A contract with Scott Belcastro, who heads Trebel LLC, permits him to represent the village in the aggregation process, including certification by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Belcastro is a broker and energy consultant who represents Border and also Volunteer Energy Services Inc., which would supply natural gas to the village. He is paid by Border and Volunteer.
Belcastro told village officials during a public hearing Nov. 20 on the aggregation process that he anticipates Border could begin supplying electricity by March and Volunteer could begin supplying natural gas by May.
Border would give 15-percent discounts to residents and 10-percent discounts to businesses on a portion of their electric bills. Volunteer would give a 7-percent reduction on a portion of natural gas bills.
Certain costs currently charged by American Electric Power and Columbia Gas, which now serve most of the village, cannot be reduced.
Hatfield said it is worth saving any dollars on utility bills and that the two suppliers still would have lower costs then residents and businesses now pay.
"We're going to save as much as we can," he said.
Councilman David Miller said by applying the rate reduction to his current monthly electric bill of $111, his bill would drop to about $101.
Village voters approved electricity and natural gas aggregation issues last November to pave the way for the village to become an aggregator. Part of the certification process with the PUCO is to hold two public hearings. The next one is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 28 in council chambers at Town Hall, 51. E. Cherry St.
Hatfield said he hopes there is a big turnout. Only a handful of people attended the Nov. 20 hearing, he said.
During the Nov. 20 hearing, resident Warren Owen asked how utility bills would be affected if Sunbury, which currently has a population of about 4,500, becomes a city.
Belcastro said the more residents who contract with suppliers through aggregation, the better the potential for lower costs.
However, residents and businesses are not required to use suppliers that contract with the village and may keep their current supplier or choose another.