PAULDING – A Paulding Village Council meeting Monday, May 3, included park district proposal and several lengthy, sometimes contentious, discussions on several issues.

Aaron Timm, Gary Mabis and Glenn Troth, representing the Paulding County Park District, presented a proposed improvement to county-owned land along Flat Rock Creek upstream from the village sewage lagoons at Johnson Road.

The site is across the creek from the old county home farm.

Timm said the commissioner have given permission to turn the 15 acres into a park and trailhead. Possibly up to eight campsites may be developed. The organization would perform the work.

The park district would like to create a parking lot for five or six cars by moving an area of fence. Timm will create some engineering drawings for the next council meeting.

Tempers flared during the evening’s longest discussion. Businessman and landlord John Manz complained about water bill increases despite council’s pro-business stance.

Manz said he received a $644 water bill when the previous bill was $300 or less. He claimed a series of rate hikes had been enacted over the past year or two plus additional income tax.

“How is that helping business?” he asked. “The business people in this town are not just revenue sources.”

He enumerated more than a dozen questions and complaints; some received council responses and some did not. He also made a couple personal comments against the mayor and the council as a whole.

Manz wondered if “the council voted on an increase in water without any knowledge of what they voted on and what the consequences would be.” Council members countered they spent three months studying figures before voting to raise rates. They said the rate hike was necessary to make the water system self-sufficient.

Finance Director Zoe McMaster pulled Manz’s bills since the start of the year: $106 for January and February; $153 in March, when a water leak apparently started; $644 for April; and $193 for May. Manz said he had people check for a water leak on the property, but none was found.

Mayor Greg White defended council’s “tough” decision to address water rates, and proclaimed the village has “the best water produced in northwest Ohio.”

White noted Paulding still ranks in the lower 40 percent for water cost in the state of Ohio.

Before cutting off the discussion, White said, “Here’s the bottom line – you had a water leak. … It caused you a loss of money. You are responsible for it. … But you are going to pay your water bills.”

Manz responded, “I pay my water bills.”

On that subject, Jim Larson asked why he receives a bill each month at his property on Flat Rock Drive. There’s been no water service for three years.

Council responded that Larson is billed a monthly capital improvement assessment fee of $40.75. McMaster explained that the village’s USDA loan requires the village charge any property that has a water tap, even without a meter or water/sewer service. Village administrator Jason Vance said other vacant properties in town are being charged, too, and there is no way to get out of it.

Larson told council he believes this charge is “not right.”

Manz asked about the intent of the proposed ordinance to establish a vacant building registration program. Councilman David Burtch responded that some building owners have buildings empty for years without trying to maintain, rent or make them livable.

“Our goal is to get these buildings refurbished and occupied,” Burtch said.

Manz had questions about rules, variances and exemptions. Burtch suggested Manz read the proposed ordinance, available on the village’s website, villageofpaulding.com.

An emergency ordinance, 1619-21, met with some reluctance among council members, who questioned why the measure needed to be passed as an emergency on its first reading.

The ordinance establishes the boundaries of the Paulding Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) #6 in the village.

A CRA provides an incentive to assist and encourage development through renovating or repairing existing structures or new construction. The program would offer individually negotiated property tax abatements on improvements of up to 100 percent for up to 15 years.

The village previously established CRAs in limited areas for industrial projects. The new area would include the entire village.

Both commercial and residential projects would be eligible.

Burtch explained the emergency designation, which bypasses the standard three readings, is necessary because the CRA must be in place before the Union Bank begins work on its building (the former Masonic Lodge).

County economic developer Tim Copsey, who has been working with Burtch on setting up this CRA, provided additional information. After council approval, he will send documentation to the state for designation as a CSA zone.

Abatement applications, such as the bank’s, will be submitted to the school district for approval before being presented to council for final approval.

Village solicitor Harvey Hyman felt the emergency designation was appropriate in this case. He added that the CRA won’t decrease the amount tax revenue being collected.

“We’re not losing anything. What we currently are getting is not going to change,” Councilman Dan Workman stressed.

“After whatever abatement period is over, it could result in a very significant increase,” Hyman said. For commercial development, “in the long run, you’re getting tax revenue from those workers – plus, you’re getting that tax revenue from the actual improvements down the road, if not in the short term when it’s not 100 percent abatement.”

A vote to suspend the rules to pass the Paulding Council debates water bill, reinvestment area CRA ordinance was approved by a 5-0 vote with Councilman Randy Daeger absent. The vote to approve passed 4-1, with Councilwoman Barb Rife casting the dissenting vote.

The village will later designate a housing officer to administer the pro- gram and create a Community Reinvestment Housing Council and a Tax Incentive Review Council.

The next regular council meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 17. Watch via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/ 4451352151. The meeting ID number is 445 135 2151.