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Colerain Township Awarded Gold Designation from SolSmart

Colerain Township has been awarded a SolSmart Gold designation for our efforts to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar! We are proud to be recognized as a national leader in advancing solar energy.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolSmart recognizes cities and counties for cutting red tape and making solar more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses. We are committed to reducing solar energy costs at the local level and encouraging even more homes and businesses to use this clean, affordable energy source. The SolSmart Gold designation recognizes that we are “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment that generates economic development and jobs. 

Colerain Township recently announced that it will be installing 60 solar panels on the roof of the Community Center. These panels are expected to generate 29% of the total electric used at the Community Center, resulting in a reduction in electric bill costs of $8,000 per year. The return on investment for this product is estimated at 12 years, barring any inflation in electric rates. Given the 25-year warranty, this will result in an estimated total savings of 13 years of electric at the Community Center which amounts to $104,000 dollars. This return on investment is much higher for this project than the rate of return on investing the Township’s idle cash. 

Additionally, Colerain Township works with residents on issuing certificates to make solar installation easier for people who live in our area. In fact, nearly a dozen solar installation certificates were issued in the month of July alone! 

SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 450 municipalities, counties, and regional organizations have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016. 

SolSmart provides free technical assistance to help local governments reduce obstacles to solar energy development. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar. Colerain Township is helping local communities coordinate on setting goals and strategies for sustainable energy growth. 

SolSmart also helps communities streamline local procedures to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This can include adjusting permitting, planning, and zoning requirements to reduce obstacles to solar energy use while meeting other community development goals.  

SolSmart uses objective criteria to award points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Organizations that take sufficient action are designated either Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Interested parties can learn more at SolSmart.org

Article website
https://app.cerkl.com/org/story.php?id=16245296

Centerville Cornerstone Park Ready for the Spotlight

The new Cornerstone Park is near completion, boasting an entertainment plaza, observation pier and art sculpture.

The park, which sits along the water near Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, is a key component of the Cornerstone development near Interstate 675 and Feedwire Road.

The park has two components, including an 11-acre passive area with benches and walking trails that preserves a headwater stream. The active portion has a pavilion area designed to create a relaxing atmosphere for visitors and customers of nearby restaurants like Bagger Dave’s and Cheddar’s.

“It has been City Council’s vision to incorporate a beautiful piece of parkland to complement the overall Cornerstone project,” Centerville City Manager Wayne Davis said.

Cornerstone Developers LLC, led by CEO George Oberer of Oberer Companies, constructed all improvements in the active and passive park areas. In the future, the City will be responsible for one-third of the maintenance costs and two-thirds will be funded through contributions from property owners’ associations that currently maintain most of the public property at Cornerstone.

The City received $1 million in Clean Ohio grant funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission to conserve the passive parkland.

“This park will be an asset for businesses and residents of Cornerstone. For years, it has been a magnet for many first-in-region retail and restaurant interest,” George Oberer said.

“The addition of Cornerstone Park contributes to making this successful development a destination place and shows the City’s commitment to expand, as well as improve, our amenities for businesses, residents and visitors,” Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton said.

The 18-foot-tall public art piece titled ‘Celebration’ was designed by artist Stephen Canneto. It features an image of several figures crafted from brushed stainless steel and dichroic glass. The glass sphere changes colors depending on the time of day and viewing angle. That same glass is used on the shade structure in the plaza area. 

The Centerville Arts Commission is planning a ribbon cutting for the park. Details will be shared as soon as they are available.

 

Population Growth In Ohio Focused In Central Ohio

The Greater Ohio Policy Center’s new report confirms demographic and economic trends in most of the state deviate from Columbus city and metro area. Tailored policies are needed for Ohio’s legacy areas where populations are not growing and residents are aging.

What are the indications that Ohio is a legacy state?

  • 64% of Ohioans live in a legacy city or the metro area anchored by one
  • Only 18% of the state’s population lives in Columbus or its metro
  • A majority of places in Ohio experienced population losses from 2000-2020. (map depicts 2000-2020 population change for cities, counties, and metros)
  • Ohio had a population gain of 3% from 2000 to 2020 but when the Columbus metro is removed, the parts of Ohio outside the Columbus area experienced loss of –1%, or net loss of 100,000 residents
  • The state as a whole, and cities and metros outside central Ohio, experienced significant decreases in people under age 54. (See chart)
  • Ohio’s median household income is lower than the national average and has not kept pace with increases nationally

What types of policies do legacy places need? Legacy areas of the state need different policies from Columbus that are designed to:

  • Protect the Fiscal Health of Ohio’s Cities
  • Invest in Existing Places
  • Reimagine Local Zoning
  • Champion Public Transit
  • Reduce Risk and Increase Production in Legacy City Real Estate Markets

Relive the 2022 ICMA Annual Conference online through December 31

ICMA’s Annual Conference delivered attendees an incredible opportunity to gain insights and connections needed to achieve excellence in their organizations, their communities, and their profession. Conference attendees and new registrants can now view 140 sessions on-demand, including dynamic keynotes and featured speakers, through December 31, 2022! Those registered for the event will access the 2022 ICMA Annual Conference online platform using the unique credentials provided during registration from the email address mobilesolutions@chime.live. New registrants need to visit the 2022 ICMA Digital website to complete their registration. Register for on-demand access today. Questions? Contact the conference team.

The New ICMA Membership Dues Structure: Creating More Value for Members

Years in the making, the reimagined dues structure offers greater affordability, which will contribute to member satisfaction and membership growth.

by Martha Perego, ICMA-CM |  |  PM MAGAZINE – ARTICLE 

Considering Future Growth

At the October 2019 ICMA Executive Board meeting in Nashville, ICMA’s leadership was wrestling with an issue that had long been plaguing board members. What would it take to grow ICMA membership? How could ICMA attract even more passionate and committed city, county, and town managers, assistants, and others aspiring to those roles?

While members placed a high value on their ICMA membership, some believed the dues were too expensive. At state association meetings, nonmembers often described the dues as their main barrier to joining. Though everyone at the board meeting said they had heard these concerns raised in the past, the board recognized that this was anecdotal information. The most important next step would be to get actual data and explore more deeply how dues affected various segments of prospective, former, and current members.

Breaking with the past tradition of establishing a member task force, ICMA looked for outside expertise. “We hired an external consultant with several decades of experience in helping other associations. The consultants guided us through the process of surveying members and conducting focus groups and interviews across all our membership segments,” said Troy Brown, outgoing ICMA president and city manager of Moorpark, California.

The consultant, McKinley and Partners, kicked off the project in November 2020. Nearly 3,000 surveys were completed and analyzed, helping ICMA staff to better understand how member benefits are perceived and valued. They also looked at how the dues structure could be improved to allow more individuals to join and to create an even greater sense of satisfaction for existing members.

Member Research Points to Gaps

The research results continue to reflect the high regard that respondents have for ICMA, most specifically its networking and professional development offerings. The overall satisfaction rate of 85% with ICMA is significantly higher than other professional associations, which average 78% member satisfaction levels. However, 45% of respondents disagree that membership pricing is reasonable. To compare how ICMA members feel versus members of other professional organizations, the average “cost to value of membership” for professional organizations is 33%. ICMA rated 29%.

A significant number of comments in the focus groups centered on the lack of affordability for communities with small budgets and/or populations under 7,500. “For small town managers, you have priced them out,” one respondent said. In considering a range of different dues models, “ability to pay” was a preferred approach for the CAO/ACAO segment with salary continuing to be a reasonable metric.

With this data in hand, the committee wanted to better understand the financial constraints of small communities. “I have worked in small communities for almost my entire career,” said Board Member Teresa (Terri) Tieman, assistant city manager of Bethany Beach, Delaware, who served on the dues subcommittee. “I can’t tell you the number of times that I have tapped into ICMA resources to solve a problem, find a vendor, learn the best way to on-board a new councilmember, or to find sample policies. We recently used a policy I found on icma.org to develop our teleworking policy. We didn’t have one pre-COVID. I have literally saved my communities thousands in consulting fees, so I was really excited that one outcome [of the dues subcommittee] would be to help ICMA become more inclusive of small communities.”

Options Explored

Given that charge, an ICMA staff team under the leadership of Patricia Vinchesi, Northeast regional director, studied a total of 6,000 communities and 250 counties across the United States with an eye toward potential discounts based either on population, budget, or a combination of both. Based on the analysis, the team found among other things that neither population nor budget size is the sole factor for determining ability to pay.

The team looked at a number of financial options that focused, according to Vinchesi, on “being meaningful enough that there would be a substantial reduction from the previous cost of membership to join and an amount that would be within reach of municipal budgets so managers could make an effective ROI case to their elected officials.” Vinchesi too worked in small communities prior to her tenure at ICMA. She recalls reaching for ICMA resources or calling on her ICMA network when her town demanded an analysis and recommendation with no budget and limited time.

Building on Past Dues Improvements

Previous boards have recognized that ICMA’s dues structure is a serious and complicated matter since dues help fund member benefits and keep the association solvent. Prior task forces took steps to align ICMA dues with organizational priorities. Past task forces established a dues cap of $1,400, a flat rate for early to mid-career professionals, and a $200.00 dues rate for department directors to help attract and develop next-generation leaders. These adjustments, along with benefit enhancements, have succeeded in growing ICMA’s membership.

Options for a new dues structure were modeled by ICMA’s Chief Finance Officer Sabina Agarunova and her team and reviewed by the board finance and member committees. The final recommendation reflects a careful balance of forecasting member growth in the years ahead versus the reduction in revenues from the lower cost of dues in the immediate future. “The work of the ICMA staff in support of this effort was tremendous and it reflects a strong belief in the outcome,” Tieman said.

Fellow Board and Dues Committee Member Michael Kaigler, assistant county manager of Chatham County, Georgia, agrees. “This makes membership more affordable for individuals in smaller jurisdictions who may not have access to the resources to deal with today’s complicated issues and who need ICMA resources the most. It marks the first time in the history of the organization where the cost of membership overall was lowered. I am most proud of the work we accomplished to address the value of membership through the dues process.”

The New Dues Structure

The new dues structure is effective beginning October 1, 2022.* You can see the full structure here. Here is a summary:

Dues structure figure

Sample CAO/ACAO Member Cases

The ICMA membership team put together some hypothetical member cases to demonstrate the new dues structure in action.

Manager from a Mid-size City

Salary: $200,000

Old dues structure: She would pay $1,400 (.008 of salary capped at a maximum payment of $1,400).

New dues structure: The rate has been reduced to salary times .0065 and is now capped at $1,200. She would now pay $1,200 and realize a savings of $200.

Assistant Manager from a Large County

Salary: $150,000

Old dues structure: He would pay $1,200 (.008 of salary capped at a maximum payment of $1,400).

New dues structure: The rate has been reduced to salary times .0065 and is now capped at $1,200. He would now pay $975 and realize a savings of $225.

Manager from a Small Community (population of 7,500 and a general fund budget of $7.8 million)

Salary: $135,000

Old dues structure: He would pay $1,080 (salary times .008 capped at a maximum payment of $1,400).

New dues structure: The rate has been reduced to salary times .0065 and is now capped at $1,200. In addition, because the community meets the qualifications for ICMA’s new small community discount, he will receive an additional 20% discount on his dues. His new dues rate is $702—a savings of $378.

Manager from a Small Community

Salary: $105,000

Old dues structure: She would pay $840 (salary times .008 capped at a maximum payment of $1,400).

New dues structure: The rate has been reduced to salary times .0065 and is now capped at $1,200. In addition, because her community meets the qualifications for ICMA’s new small community discount, she will receive an additional 20% discount on her dues. Her new dues rate is $546—a savings of $294.

Dues Committee

“This monumental task could not have been accomplished without the dedication of the dues subcommittee. These board members met frequently, and this assignment was extremely labor intensive,” praised Brown. “We knew it would be a multi-year project, but we didn’t know it would be done during a pandemic, which made everything a little more complicated,” he added. “On behalf of all the members, I’d like to thank the ICMA staff, especially the membership and finance teams, and the dues subcommittee members for getting us across the goal line.”

Co-chairs:

Laura A. Fitzpatrick, deputy city manager, Chesapeake, Virginia

Ray Gonzales, former county manager, Adams County, Colorado

Michael Kaigler, assistant county manager, Chatham County, Georgia

Members:

Molly Mehner, deputy city manager, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Teresa Tieman, town manager, Fenwick Island, Delaware

Peter Troedsson, city manager, Albany, Oregon

What You Need to Do

Join or renew! Current members will receive renewal invoices that will reflect the dues changes as applicable. New members joining after October 1, 2022, will receive the new dues rates as applicable. If you have questions about your invoice, contact membership@icma.org.

Current members: please update your ICMA member profile to ensure we have the latest, most accurate information for you. Click on “My ICMA” at the top right of the icma.org homepage to update your profile and to manage your communication preferences.

Martha Perego

MARTHA PEREGO, ICMA-CM, is director of member services and ethics director, ICMA, Washington, D.C. (mperego@icma.org).

Benham’s Grove Celebrates 30 Years

Benham’s Grove is a community gathering place located in the heart of Centerville, Ohio. Owned by the City, Benham’s Grove is a venue rooted in history, a fitting setting for a wide variety of functions from intimate meetings to large formal gatherings.

The Gerber House is located at the front of the property adjacent to the road. The ten-acre property exhibits a romantic and relaxed presence with rambling grounds, an abundance of landscaping and the gazebo overlooking the pond. The historic accessory buildings such as the barn and cottage enhance the feel of this country estate that was once a working farm.

Administrator Randal Bishop shares his perspective as Benham’s Grove celebrates 30 years.

Why do you think Benham’s Grove has such a special place in the hearts of local families?

Randal: So many families have used Benham’s Grove for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation parties and weddings. Over the 20 years I have been here, I have seen families here on multiple occasions to use Benham’s Grove as their children grew and as their families expanded. I have had so many wonderful comments on the property and grounds. It is

truly a Centerville gathering space.

Benham’s Grove was once a dilapidated, vacant property. How did the city save it? Randal: When the city purchased the property, it was in a state of disrepair. It had been unoccupied for several years. The buildings were falling apart, and the vegetation was out of control. The city devised a plan to makethe best use of the buildings and grounds. In April 1992, Benham’s Grove was dedicated and opened as the 1992 Dayton Showhouse. After Showhouse, Benham’s Grove opened for business.

What are the notable changes you’ve seen over
the past 30 years?
Randal: In 1995, the gazebo was added to the
property for wedding ceremonies. Many civic
groups in Centerville have used the space and raised money for improvements to the facility. The pergola was also added to the southwest corner of the property. In 2013, the brick plaza was added to offer cover for outdoor events and to help use tents to protect the grounds.

Please describe a few of the fun stories or highlights from events over the past decades.

Benham’s Grove has hosted thousands of guests over the years. We have had so many beautiful weddings, parties and city events it is difficult pick out just one or two. In 2008, we hosted two small weddings on thesame day as the leftover effects of Hurricane Ike blew through the Dayton area. We had no power, strong winds and the loss of several large trees that came crashing down. We pushed through the weather and both couples laughed and said they would talk about getting married in a hurricane in Ohio for the rest of their lives. Plus, the Americana Festival is always a good time as thousands of people gather to catch some shade and enjoy the entertainment or just relax on the grounds.

The family of past owners are still involved in the property, right?

I am still in touch with the granddaughter of the Gerber Family, and the family still comes to visit the property. The family continues to be involved and has donated projects to enhance it as well, the latest being the new fountain at the Gerber House.
What changes should we expect in the next five years at Benham’s Grove?

The future is bright at Benham’s Grove! We are working now to develop an improvement plan to secure the future of the venue for generations in the future. Expect a refresh of some of the buildings and changes that will make the space more accessible for all.

Tim Hansley Retires After 50 Years of Public Service

Tim Hansley, Union County Administrator, retired in June after over 50 years of public service throughout the state of Ohio. Tim began his career in public service with the US Coast Guard in 1968. In 1972, he began serving as management analyst for
the City of Cincinnati until 1974 before becoming the finance director for the City of Westerville. Tim then moved into a city management role for multiple Ohio Cities: Tipp City (1976-
1980), Lebanon (1980-1987), Dublin (1987-2001), Conneaut (2002-2004), Beavercreek (2004-2005) and City of Pickerington (Director of Development 2006-2008 and City Manager/Director of Development 2008-2009). Tim then moved on to serve as county administrator for Delaware County from 2010-2016 before being named Union County Administrator in 2017.

Tim formerly served as OCMA President, Past President,

Treasurer and Board Member, and was recognized by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for his career in public management at the

2019 ICMA Annual Conference.

In addition to holding many other leadership roles on committees, boards and associations throughout his career, Tim has provided countless individuals and communities with unmatched leadership, selflessness and a pragmatic approach to problem solving.

In retirement, Tim will continue to serve as a volunteer with the Dublin Police Department and Union County EMA. He will also take advantage of his newfound spare time by enjoying time with his partner, Anne, children and grandchildren as well as his favorite hobbies: traveling, camping, boating, and water sports.

How Gambier Allocated Its ARPA and CARES Act Funding

The Village of Gambier has invested in green energy and other infrastructure improvements with its American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

Gambier received $260,000 in ARPA money, half of it was received in 2021 and the other half arrived this summer.

Council has approved upgrading the water meter reading system for $80,000 to enable the Sensus meters to be read from the office, eliminating the need to drive around the village to obtain the readings. The system includes detection devices that attach to the fire hydrants in an effort to better identify leaks in the distribution system.

The village also spent $215,000 to install 94 solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant, using some
of its own utility funds to support the work that is scheduled to start in September. The village utilized a job contracting proposal through its membership in Sourcewell to undertake the project. McDaniels Construction is doing the build out in coordination with Third Sun Kokosing Solar.

When done, this will be the second solar powered system used in village facilities. A roof-mounted solar system was installed a few years ago on the Community Center and for the past two years it has generated more power in the summer months than what it takes to operate for former elementary school building that houses the village offices, a Head Start program and a library branch.

R.C. Wise, Village Administrator, said Council decided to do two large utility infrastructure improvements with the ARPA money in contrast to funding several initiatives in 2020 with the CARES Act allocation where they helped other private and public entities with the federal money allocated to it during the pandemic.

Gambier was awarded about $135,000 in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and it was spent on public health, preventive measures, telework capabilities and economic aid.

Among the items, the Village spent:

  • $19,000 to install automatic door openers for both restrooms and the south exterior door of the Community Center.
  • $18,300 was invested in touch-free plumbing fixtures and water fountains in all of the village buildings.  $13,800 was spent on the Council chambers for improved social distancing and the installation oftechnology to allow for virtual and hybrid public meetings.
  • $41,319 was awarded to Area Development Foundation for them to hand out grants and/or loans toarea businesses that met certain qualifications.
  • $5,600 was spent on a partnership with Kenyon College to test and ship COVID-19 samples from thewastewater treatment plant influent, a project that continues today.
  • $5,100 was spent on improving interoffice communications and a community message board.
  • $5,000 was for a local business loan and hundreds more spent on personal protective equipment and air quality monitors.

Under the time restraints of the CARES Act, the Village referred nearly $13,000 of its allocation back to the County Auditor to help out other local government partners.

Gambier Celebrates 43022 Day

What’s a town to do when the calendar coincides with its assigned zip code? In Gambier, that was a sign to have a celebration to mark the once in a century occurrence which happened on 4-30-22.

Kenyon College and Gambier collaborated to host a 43022 Day party on Middle Path that Saturday morning which included a parade, a planting, a poem and a proclamation.

The college bookstore had offered special shirts and other swag for sale and handed out free vouchers for the food trucks. Gambier gave away unique coffee mugs to the first 250 attendees and printed up commemorative postcards pictures of the Post Office circa 1940.

Councilmember Kaitlin Sockman designed the mugs and planned with Kenyon staff and students for the special day that also kicked off a redesign of downtown green space. Council President Morgan Giles planted a white dogwood tree at the northeast corner of the Post Office – a start of the revamp of the pocket park that lies between the Village Market and Post Office.

Council members Rakia Faber and Alison Furlong took the opportunity to poll residents’ views on “Reimagining Gaskin Ave”, one of the two downtown streets, on how to best include non-motorized traffic along the main artery.

Resident poet Royal Rhodes read the poem he created for the event. And no observance in Gambier would be complete without a proclamation from Mayor Leeman Kessler.

And with that, the parade stepped off and concluded the day’s scheduled events but villagers stayed downtown for food and fellowship for what most celebrants will witness once-in-a-lifetime: The day my Zip code and calendar were the same.