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City OKs use-of-force training

Councilman Joe Hartzell, chairman of the Materials and Equipment Committee, told council the committee recommended passing a $2,500 budget increase to the Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

He said the money would pay for a five-day rental of a use-of-force training simulator.

Hartzell said Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens plans to schedule the training Dec. 5-9.

Stevens told committee members last week the simulator will put trainees in several scenarios, including first responder, school and workplace violence, officer down, vehicle stops and officers involved in a shooting.

"Each scenario involves multiple ending choices," Stevens said. "Most officers would be happy to work their 30 years and never have to fire a shot, but, in a life-and-death situation, we want our officers to be well-prepared."

Stevens said because training and travel are expensive, using the simulator would bring flexibility and allow more officers to go through training in just five days.

Hartzell said the training will help police respond to a situation without real-life consequences.

"If the real thing should occur, it gets you ready," he said.

Council members also approved a $12,000 fund appropriation for a new aerial fire truck.

In August, Tiffin Fire Rescue Division Chief Kevin Veletean announced the department had been awarded a $1 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to put toward the purchase of the truck.

At the time, the fire truck was to cost about $1.1 million with the city being responsible for the remaining $100,000.

City Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart said the additional $12,000 is to pay for equipment needed on the truck.

Veletean's request to take $12,000 from the Fire Department Equipment expense line to pay for the additional cost was unanimously approved by council.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz told council a 16.22-percent increase to health insurance costs is expected for 2017.

"We are in the negative for our healthcare funds," he said. "This is not our final number yet, but, I can tell you it's not coming down significantly."

Montz said the situation is typical for many municipalities and since the city's health insurance plan is self-funded, the shortfall could be made up over three years.

"This is very normal, there is no reason to panic," he said. "Our broker assured us (that paying it back over three years) is the best way to go."

He said last year saw a 2-percent decrease to the rate.

"In the grand scheme of things, averaged out over the two years, it's a 7- or 7.5-percent increase," he said. "(But) it is quite significant, well over $100,000. We really need to keep on top of that."

Montz said it is impossible to predict how many claims are going to be paid out each year.

"This was a bad year," he said. "We've had to pay out much higher than normal claims."

Montz said the city's health insurance cost about $1.3 million this year.

In other business, Montz asked council to consider a $10 increase for motor vehicle registrations and renewals.

Montz said Tiffin passed a $5 fee in 1975 and hasn't modified the rate in the 41 years since.

He said the increase would pay for road repair and construction projects and could generate about $180,000 annually.

Montz said he would like council to come to a decision by the end of the year.

He said, at earliest, the increase could go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Montz asked council to be proactive in passing the legislation that would improve the condition of the city's roads.

He also asked for legislation that would establish a do-not-knock registry within the city. It would be similar to the national do-not-call registry and would not effect non-profit groups such as Scouts and sports teams.

"This would block 90 percent of those annoying door-to-door knocks that always seem to come during dinner," Montz said.

He said city residents would have to sign up for the free service.

"I think this will be a very good program for our residents," Montz said.

Montz also announced that Leadership Park construction could begin in the spring.

He said the park could be at 20 and 22 S. Washington St. and he said about $33,000 was set aside for the project.

Montz said a 15-foot tree was donated by the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services for the park is to be the city's Christmas tree.

He said park designs are nearly ready and council members should prepare for proposals in the coming weeks.

Montz said a historic marker would be placed at the park that denotes the founding of Tiffin by Josiah Hedges in 1822.

Also during the meeting, council passed two ordinances that will allow the city to cooperate with Ohio Department of Transportation on projects on SR 53 next summer.

Councilman Steve Lepard said one project is for work on the Kennedy Bridge over the CSX tracks and the other project is for resurfacing from the Wyandot County line to 700 feet north of Glenwood Drive.

Lepard said the second project is to cost the city about $13,000, or 20 percent of the project. The state is to pick up the rest.

Reinhart said Tiffin Police Department received a grant from The Tiffin Community Foundation and a grant from the White Family Charitable Fund.

The grants total about $10,400 and will contribute to training and equipment.

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