Since this is the beginning of the year, I think that it might be best to touch on a few of the more seasonal topics.
There is nothing like bad weather to trigger a substantial number of questions from our residents about the city's snow removal efforts and policies. Basically, we operate on a list of priorities predicated by safety service.
When inclement winter weather is approaching, our Public Works Department makes certain that the snow plows and other equipment are fueled and ready to go.
In the meantime, our police and fire personnel generally act as our eyes and ears, monitoring conditions on our streets as they travel throughout the city.
When any of them note street conditions that require attention, they immediately notify the Public Works Department and crews are dispatched to salt the icy areas and begin plowing efforts as soon as snow begins to accumulate.
If the snow is moderate to heavy, three crews are deployed to keep the main streets (especially the state routes), hills and bridges open, and three crews are sent out to work the secondary streets. In addition, two crews are dispatched as needed to effect snow removal in the city parking lots and two workers are sent out to clean city-owned sidewalks and bridges. In all, at least 10 to 12 city workers are on the scene trying to keep ahead of the weather.
Our first priority is to keep the main arteries and feeder streets open for any emergency eventuality. Once these roadways have been sufficiently cleared, the crews begin on the secondary and residential streets.
Unless there is an emergency need, it is not the city's policy to clear alleys.
Beautiful as a snowfall can be, it does not come cheaply for the city. With salt running about $70 per ton, it is not unprecedented for a moderate to heavy snowfall (preceded by an ice storm) to cost us upward of $1,500 in salt alone.
We also add a liquid to the salt called "Geo-melt" which is a sugar beet derivative. This makes the salting effort much more effective in combating freezing rain and results in our having to use less rock salt, which, in turn, does less corrosive damage to our sewer system.
The final cost to the city, if we have a major snowstorm lasting a couple of days, could run in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $10,000 - especially if we have to pull in crews to work overtime.
The deadline for filing and paying the 2009 city of Tiffin income tax for individuals and calendar-year-end businesses is April 15.
The filing of a city tax return is mandatory for all residents with earned taxable income and non-residents who conduct a business or service in Tiffin.
Even those wage earners who owe no taxes are still required to file a return along with a W-2.
Tax returns may be filed and paid at the City Hall Annex, 53 E. Market St., between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. There also is a drop box to the left of the front door for those who cannot make it to the office during work hours.
If you need a tax form, they are available at the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, the post office or on our Web site at www.tiffinohio.gov. Anyone who has questions regarding filing a tax return may call the tax department at (419) 448-5405.
City services and finances
As reported by Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart, the city's income tax revenue for 2009 was down more than 10 percent or about $700,000 from the preceding year. Consequently, this has mandated a number of cost savings measures, the most important of which are cuts in personnel.
Even though our non-represented employees have sustained a 7-percent wage cut since last May and the represented employees have given concessions and been subject to some layoffs, our city workforce is down considerably from 2004.
In 2010, the fire department will be down a total of five people and police will be down five people as well. Public Works will be down three employees and all of the seasonal groundskeepers. The finance office is down one full time employee and is using a part-time worker to help offset another full-time position. Also, the technology position created by city council last fall will go unfilled at least until late this year.
Every department is feeling the pinch, but all employees are demonstrating dedication and professionalism. I am confident that things will improve, but I feel that the local economic rebound will be slow and gradual. In the meantime, the administration and employees will be doing everything to maintain the highest level of city services.
As always, if you have any concerns, suggestions or questions about any issues facing the city, please feel free to write to me c/o 51 E. Market St., Tiffin OH 44883 or e-mail me at email@example.com. You may call my office at (419) 448-5401 or stop by without an appointment, but to ensure that I am available, please call ahead.