Vienna City Council mulls insurance issue

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Bairavi Sundaram, 17, a senior at Parkersburg High School, discusses her concerns on the lack of youth political involvement and how she proposed to fix the problem with the help of Vienna City Council.

VIENNA — With budget planning just around the corner, Vienna City Council was buzzing with questions and plans for this year on Thursday night.

Most of the discussion involved insurance premiums.

“This year I think the city needs to find a cost effective plan and better define cost sharing,” said Kim Williams, a business owner in Vienna.

The topic of insurance previously has been brought up by Councilman Mike Elam, who was appointed by Mayor Randy Rapp to the insurance committee at Thursday’s meeting. Also on that committee are Rapp, the finance director and a representative of each city department.

Due to the community and council concerns on insurance premiums, Rapp is arranging for Mark Schwendeman, who has provided insurance advice to the city for multiple years in a row, to attend a council meeting and answer questions about the process of selecting the city’s insurance.

The council had a guest speaker attend on Thursday night.

Bairavi Sundaram, 17, a senior at Parkersburg High School, discussed her concerns on the lack of youth political involvement, and how she proposed to fix the problem.

“Too often in current times our high schoolers and the youth population are driven away from being politically engaged,” Sundaram said.

Sundaram believes the primary reason for this is that many of them feel as if they have no voice due to their age and not being heard when it comes to important issues they have an opinion on when they take it to representatives.

“I personally feel like this needs to change, because every individual, regardless of age, needs to feel that they have a voice and that they are being represented when it comes to our government,” Sundaram said.

Sundaram said that after much deliberation, she figured the best way to at least start implementing a change in the status quo would be to start on a local level, proposing the idea of starting youth city councils.

“These councils will work in conjunction with the members of our actual city council but will focus more on addressing issues that students from around the city bring attention to,” Sundaram said.

“Aside from that, the Youth Council can also move to set up activities or events for the students in the city and even hold public forums and other public events to allow the students of the area to voice their opinions and concerns,” she said.

Sundaram presented Council with an outline on how to form the council, and how it would function once formed.

“We would first distribute information to local schools and get information from students who would like to be involved or run,” Sundaram said.

Once formed, the elected council can determine a time and date for their meetings, the preferred amount would be at least twice a month, she said.

The meetings could also be in correlation with the actual council’s meeting times. “From there, they would begin the process of coming up with activities for the city’s students on moving to enact policies that are of concern to many students,” Sundaram said. “An example being that Jackson Middle School is currently trying to form a soccer league for the middle schools in the area seeing as this is a sport many students enjoy and want to be active in with the affiliation of their schools.”

The city of Vienna is reviewing Sundaram’s plans and will make a decision on the program.

Other business from Thursday’s meeting:

* The first reading for two General Fund budget revisions — the first concerning transferring $15,000 out of excess Police Fund and $45,000 out of Pension to fund a software update and the second fixing the wall at the last lake in McDonough Park which is leaking and causing the lake to drain — was passed.

* The first reading of an internal budget revision allocating expenditures for winter weather gear and equipment, which will involve moving $5,000 from within Park Funds to two other line items inside the Park Funds budget, was passed.

* The former 12th Street maintenance facility that was sold to Ohio Valley University for a clean water project has passed its first reading to approve selling two acres of the 5.2-acre tract. The Ace Educational Foundation, which focuses on clean energy, has offered to pick up from where OVU is on the project and bring it forward to new research projects. OVU would be signing over all property rights, and Ace would take up all payments, including OVU’s back payments on the site.

* The planning for the upcoming fiscal year budget will begin on Jan. 24, the next city council meeting.