PAYNE – Monday’s Village of Payne council meeting began with commentary from guest Dylan E. Worden of Midwest Energy Solutions. Worden lent his knowledge as a renewable energy cnsultant, and informed council members of government programs that are available, should Payne opt for solar energy for village buildings and the water treatment plant.

Worden explained that changes were made to the tax laws in September, stating that a municipality could not receive any of the program benefits before the change. However, municipalities can now receive direct payment from the Treasury.

Worden went on to describe another program that Payne, as a rural area, would be eligible for. The program is through the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will be available in September 2023. This program applies to any energy-efficient upgrades, i.e. remodeling the water treatment plant with more energy-efficient pumps, or powering with solar. “They give you a loan, but you’ll have to pay 50% of it back,” explains Worden. There may be potential to also get the money from the Treasury, meaning another 40% returned as a tax credit, however, that information has not been fully verified yet.

Mayor Austin Scheiner inquired as to whether the 40% was for the cost of the solar, or if it were applicable to the entire project. Worden responded, “It depends on what you do. If you do a retrofit, it’s a lot easier to blend in some of the cost of the treatment plant in with the solar; so you would get that 90%.”

Council member Jason Hower inquired as to how many acres would be required to accommodate the number of solar panels needed for Payne’s power usage. Worden explained, “You would have probably two arrays, one up here for your building and lighting usage, and then one over by the treatment plant; maybe half an acre, if that.”

Zoning inspector, Tom Sinn asked if there were alternate options for arrays. Worden explained that a solar canopy (where drivers can park underneath) could be an option for the parking lot since it is owned by the municipality.

Councilman Hower questioned how much power could be generated on days with hardly any sun. “Very little,” responded Worden, who recommended having “the solar be primary, then the battery, and then if the battery is depleted, then you have the generator pull the battery and kick on.”

Worden went on to inform the council that his associate from the USDA is willing to meet with the council to begin the process to apply for the program, which includes a two to three-month environmental review. Worden explained that “the way this program works with the USDA, its first-come, first-served, so once it’s out it’s gone.”

Reminding the council that the program becomes available in September, Worden conveyed the potential savings the village could see in its energy investment. “50%? I mean, that’s a lot off.” And while it still has not been verified, Worden reported that the employee at the USDA anticipates the additional 40% credit to be applicable as well.

Scheiner responded saying, “I think it’s definitely something of interest. Especially with looking at options for the future as far as wastewater and drinking water treatment. Because that’s where most of our energy usage is.” However, Scheiner mentions that Payne is five to seven years from establishing their new treatment plant, and was unsure if being that far out would compromise their ability to take advantage of the program. Worden assured council that the USDA is willing to meet with the council members to discuss details and options and that the employee he has been working with is associated with drafting the program itself. The council agreed they’d like to meet with Worden’s associate at the USDA within the next couple of months.

Buckeye Park renaming update

The council made a motion to officially change the name from “Buckeye Park” to “Buckeye Veterans Memorial Park.” The new sign will take roughly 8 weeks to be completed, and will replace the existing sign once the ground has thawed.

Zoning news

Zoning inspector, Tom Sinn is set to leave his post by the end of this year. Council is still looking for his replacement.

Additional topics discussed

• Councilman Allen Wobbler updated council on the lead service line project, stating they have decided to switch to Al Purpose Contractors out of Delphos to complete the project since the previous contractor kept canceling.

• EMS has had 16 rounds so far this month.

• The Fire Department has had 5 rounds so far this month and has submitted an estimate to the mayor for its garage door to be replaced. Fire Chief Hefner also reported the generator is “drinking antifreeze” and (still) needs fixing.

• Council approved the job description for Mayor’s Clerk of Court that was drafted by Mayor Scheiner so that position could be posted. Payne’s current Clerk of Court will be leaving that post in January.