Rocky Fork Enterprise

High precipitation draining city's overtime accounts

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As a result of one of the worst winters in years, Gahanna City Council is considering legislation to replenish accounts to cover overtime through 2014.

Service director Dottie Franey told council committee members March 10 that the bad winter has cost more than $100,000 in overtime costs thus far.

Gahanna has experienced 27 days when overtime was required for snow clearing, she said. Nine of those overtime events occurred in 2013 and 18 in 2014.

Many city employees take their overtime in compensatory time instead of pay. But in converting all of the overtime into dollars, Franey said, the total overtime cost for this season, including benefits, has been $101,819, including $20,224 in 2013 and $81,595 in 2014.

The 2014 budget included $45,000 plus benefits in the streets budget and $20,000 plus benefits in the state highway budget.

Despite many employees taking compensatory time instead of cash, Franey said, overtime accounts have been affected significantly and have less than $9,000 in each to cover all street-related overtime through Dec. 31.

She's requesting supplemental appropriations from the unappropriated balances of the streets fund in the amount of $46,980 and from the state highway fund for $23,490 to cover the streets overtime needs, including benefits, for the remainder of the year.

Council member Brian Larick asked how the pothole situation is being managed in the city.

"For potholes, so far we have spent about the same amount we spent for the entire winter last season," Franey said. "I'm sure it will eclipse others. Potholes are showing up now. Some we will do in house, and some we will hire a contractor to stay on top of them. There have been calls coming in (about potholes). It's just costing a lot of money."

In other discussion, development director Anthony Jones requested that council authorize the mayor to enter into a Community Reinvestment Area tax-abatement agreement with Eastgate Partners for property at 1801-1831 Deffenbaugh Court.

Eastgate Partners, represented by Mark Taggart, plans to construct an 80,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility on 6.4 acres at the southeast corner of Eastgate Parkway and Deffenbaugh Court.

Taggart said he anticipates a combination of manufacturing, warehouse, office and wholesale retail for the project.

Jones said it's important to note that Eastgate is building this site on speculation in an effort to accommodate the current demand for this real estate product in the central Ohio region.

It's estimated the building could accommodate as many as four businesses with a minimum space of 20,000 square feet, Jones said.

Eastgate Partners estimates a total investment of $2,925,000 on the acquisition and construction of the new building.

The development department recommends 75-percent real-estate property-tax abatement for a period of six years. To mitigate the risk of speculation, Eastgate Partners would commit to making annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) installments in the amount of $6,000 to the city during the incentive period.

"We really like Gahanna," Taggart said. "We'll build a highly functional, very attractive facility. We'll make sure it has amenities to attract today's industrial users.

"Our rents will be above market for now. But we feel like we'll offer a lot with this building."

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