PANDORA – Council approved plans to proceed with a new lift station for the village lagoon system costing more than $200,000.

During the Tuesday, Jan. 22 council meeting, council approved the project which will be constructed by Choice One Engineering of Sidney. The proposed pump station will be built close to the current one. A total of $158,482.50 will be used from the village sewer fund and $52,827.50 will come out of the income tax fund. Council has been discussing the project for a long period of time and last June, approved spending $19,805 for Choice One to do the engineering for the pump station.

Council had attempted grant funding for the project last year but were unsuccessful. Council discussed trying for grants again, but it would be 2020 before they could apply and there is no guarantee they will be successful. Fiscal Officer Kim Reese noted the recent increases in sewer rates will see an additional $57,000 more in revenue for the sewer fund this year. Village Administrator Rick Morrison noted the longer they wait to do the project, the more expensive it will become. Council decided to proceed with the project at this time.

The Riley Township Trustees. Clerk and Jason Kinsinger, Riley Township Fire Chief, were also in attendance during the meeting and once again a proposed fire truck was discussed. The trustees usually attend a council meeting in January and village officials attend a township meeting in July. The two entities work closely together on issues including the Riley Township Fire Department where the village pays one-half of the yearly fire expenses.

Kinsinger continued the discussion regarding replacing the main 1997 pumper truck for the department that began in 2017. Kinsinger said a new truck would cost $400,000 while a used one would be anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000. Kinsinger asked about the village’s fire levy approved last November. Reese said that levy will bring in about $19,000 per year which is the amount needed to pay for yearly fire expenses.

Councilman Paul Burkholder asked about the possibility of grants for a truck. Kinsinger said there is special financing available, but the grants they were looked at are based on the age of the vehicles and the department’s fleet was about six or seven years off what was needed to qualify. Kinsinger said the fleet includes a 1993 tanker truck, a brush truck in 2014, a 2007 pumper truck and the 1997 truck. Burkholder asked about looking into a FEMA grant, and Kinsinger said said all the grants that were looked at are based on FEMA standards.

Burkholder also asked if the village’s income status would help obtain a grant. The village had an income study performed that showed the village had more that 51 percent of village residents were at low to moderate poverty level which should qualify for government grants. Kinsinger said that status was taken into consideration.

The chief said he will get the information on possible trucks to council. Morrison also expressed gratitude to the trustees for allowing the village staff to use their equipment at different times including the annual trash cleanup day.

“It’s been awesome working together,” Morrison said.

Burkholder also brought up a plan he devised to assist downtown business owners improve their exterior facades. Owners would be able to seek up to $5,000 in reimbursements.

The purpose of the program is to improve and maintain the appearance of downtown properties that are visible from village streets with priority given to the portion of property visible from Main Street.

The proposed downtown business district boundaries include properties zoned B-1from the north side of Main Street 101 E. Main Street through 201 E. Main Street. This includes four owners with nine individual parcels. The south side of Main Street from 102 E. Main Street through 212 E. Main Street is nine owners for 10 individual parcels.

The proposed funding would be up to $25,000 taken from the general fund with an annual amount up to $5,000 per parcel. A five-member architectural review board appointed by council will review applications after Sept. 1 to see if any program funds remain. If no other pending applications – funds become available for other qualifying application on separate parcels regardless of whether an individual owner has already received reimbursements that year.

Council had a lengthy discussion on the plan. Councilman Steve Tadena said he believes they do not have the money for this project, while Councilwoman Diana Braidic had an issue with using government money assisting private business owners. Councilman Tim Gray said he was brought up to be responsible for himself and his property.

Burkholder reminded councilors of the presentation they had regarding a similar program in Tiffin that saw a 5-1 return - for every dollar spent, Tiffin saw a $5 return.

“I think it’s a great plan, but I don’t feel the funds are there,” Tadena said.

Burkholder said he will revise the project and report back at the next meeting.

In other business, council approved replacing a tracter for $38,165 with trade in.

The next regular meeting of the Pandora Village Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. in the village offices.