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Parts manufacturer gets enterprise zone

Utility rate hike approved

An automotive parts manufacturer that plans to expand its Bellefontaine operation to the tune of $2 million and 35 new jobs over the next 10 years got a tax break during the Tuesday meeting of Bellefontaine City Council.

ISS America, a branch of parent company Iino Seisyakusho that has developed precision parts for Honda since the automaker’s inception, began operating here within the past year and is growing from a six-person detail to a two-shift daily operation, according to employee, Brian E. Evans, a former city councilman, who spoke on the company’s behalf at the council meeting.

Read below about a grant that will allow the Bellefontaine Police Department to add new police officers

And while expanding by 20,000 square feet and increasing the local payroll by slightly more than $1 million, the company is poised to receive a 75 percent enterprise zone property tax abatement for the next 10 years, after council approved the measure on its first and final reading.

Mr. Evans said the company’s goal is to work within and support the local community.

“We want to be a good neighbor and contribute to the community,” he said.

In other activity, council approved on final reading and adopted a utilities rate hike of $2 per month that will appear on all city residents’ bills, effective in July.

City Councilwoman Diane Hager, who voted no on the first two readings of the ordinance, was the lone no vote again, stating that, “I have objected to this in the past for several reasons. We raised rates last in 2010. We spent a lot of money to put new meters in that were supposed to save a lot of money. I don’t know if that’s the case and I have had several residents call with their concerns; so therefore I am voting ‘no’ again.”

The measure was approved by a 6-1 vote, however, and city residents will see water and sewer rates rise this summer.

Measures to approve the expenditure of matching funds to rebuild curbs along the north U.S. Route 68 bypass and install drainage lines along Brennan Road for the new Bellefontaine City Schools project also were passed on final readings.

Council meets again at 7:30 p.m. May 14.

Grant will help police add new officers

With the help of a $50,000 state grant, the Bellefontaine Police Department is in a position to add approximately three new patrol officers, Police Chief Brandon Standley said after the Tuesday evening meeting of  Bellefontaine City Council.

During the meeting, council approved a measure to accept $50,000 from the Ohio Department of Criminal Justice. While the money originally was intended to be used for radio equipment upgrades, a similar grant from Franklin County Homeland Security covered the majority of those costs, the chief said.

After rewriting some details of the flexible $50,000 criminal justice grant, Chief Standley said the money can be used to help defray the cost of hiring a new officer.

The department is down at least two officers since former chief Brad Kunze resigned in May 2012 and Lt. Ron Birt retired in March.

They are also expecting another opening in the near future as Patrolman Randy Knox looks toward retirement. But all hirings first must go through the city’s Civil Service Commission.

“As long as these folks see to it, we are looking at hiring upwards of three patrol officers in the next year and a half,” Chief Standley said.

The testing procedure to fill the lieutenant spot is already complete, but results are still pending. The final stage of the sergeant’s test, which will determine which patrolman is promoted, will culminate with a round of testing May 4, the chief said.

While a list of 10 potential patrol officers exists, the police department will likely have to conduct another round of testing before all the available slots are filled, Chief Standley said.

In other police-related matters, the chief said the department is working on a neighborhood outreach project. The first event, scheduled for early May, will be in the Heritage Court area with Mary Rutan Hospital providing healthy food for a cookout.

“We want to take our message on the road,” Chief Standley told council. “I want to go over some topics I feel are important to people’s safety.”

The department and the hospital plan to have upwards of six such events throughout the spring and summer months, the chief said.

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