Council President Mr. Martin called the September 14, 2020 meeting to order at 7:33 PM. If you aren’t a member of council please mute your computer so it will cut down the background noise. Due to COVID-19 our council meetings are being conducted through ZOOM. The roll was called with the following members present: Mrs. Drake, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gant, Mr. Locke, Mrs. Miller, Ms. Riffle, and Mr. Shutts present. Also present was Mayor Lorentz, Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Lorentz gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the minutes of August 24, 2020 as presented and by-pass the reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Motion carried.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported on August 26th, I attended the city auction where we did get rid of some items that take up room and serve no purpose to the city. Chief Williams and Lisa in the Auditors Office did a good job in keeping it running smooth.
The Tree Commission met on the 27th of August to discuss the Wetland Project. At this meeting we decided to not move forward and let the grant go back to the EPA. Too many people had opinions but no facts which seemed to get the entire city in an uproar. We will just endure the bog and water standing until someone comes up with a better idea.
August 31st the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at Lupita’s Mexican Food Truck. This place is hopping and very good food.
The Service Director, Police Chief and I are conducting interviews for Police dispatch. Hopefully in the next couple weeks the position will be filled and training can begin.
Chief Williams, Chief Cronin, dispatchers, Service Director and I participated in new software training for 911. This will be 6 half days sessions for most of the department.
The Economic Development group is meeting on September 25th with the Burton Planning action plan being the main topic. Karen Waller tells that 16 are now signed up.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell reported that she spent Wednesday the 2nd with the County Engineer putting the bid package together for Drag Strip Road. It was advertised the 6th and the bid opening will be Tuesday, September 22 at 10:30.
As stated in an email to council members, if a resident receives a letter from AEP Energy stating they will no longer be provider of the aggregation, they can either do nothing during the gap, which will give them a lower rate than they currently have and then if we use SOPEC for aggregation the rate will get lower again. If they choose to use someone else, the city cannot ensure a lower rate. Mrs. Drake should be covering this subject in her report.
Dave Weber had the low bid on the Orion project. It came in around $187,000. He was the only bidder. He proposed a different brand of pump and the bid is now down around $160,000. In order to pay for this upgrade, we are moving the capital of $150,000 that was approved for the dump truck that has not been ordered to the line item for the Orion Lift Station upgrades and using $10,000 from small equipment.
The Commissioners informed us that they have finally started the injection of the chemical into their system, hopefully this will help the smell on that end of town.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that the Adjustment Report was posted online today and needs council’s approval. Also we have moved a big chunk of our funds from Peoples Bank to Citizens bank because they have a much better interest rate. Mrs. Miller made a motion to accept the Adjustment Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
City Law Director had no report.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that the August Treasurers Report has been placed on line and is awaiting approval by council. Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Communications and Petitions:
Mr. Martin announced that he has signed the bank reconciliation for the Treasurer. It has been initialed and will be placed on the Auditor’s Desk. I want to thank Ms. Riffle for filling in for me in my absence at the last meeting. I appreciate it very much.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee stated that he would like to have a voice vote from council transferring $150,000 from the Capital Fund to the Orion Project. It will be transferring money from one line item to another and should require a voice vote. Ms. Riffle asked if this is the original $150,000 that we said we weren’t going to spend. Miss Pittenger said no we took $150,000 from the sewer capital for their share of software. We took out several other things just not the dump truck. Ms. Riffle asked when the Orion Project came about. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that the bid package was approved to be put out by city council probably two months ago. Maybe in June. Mr. Ferguson made a motion to approve the transfer of funds from one line item to another. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee had no report.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report. Ms. Riffle stated that she saw where they have been painting some of the streets and school markings as well as filling some pot holes. This is great to see.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee reported that her committee met on September 9, 2020 at 6:30 PM to discuss the ‘Antenna’ AT&T wants to place on top of the water towers on Putnam Howe Drive. I would like to recommend that we proceed with their request. President of Council Mr. Martin stated that this would give the Safety-Service Director the authority to proceed with the negotiations with AT&T of placing the antenna on the water tower. Ms. Riffle asked Mr. Webster if this just gave them the go ahead to check things out. Mr. Webster replied yes. Mrs. Drake made a motion for a voice vote from council to proceed with the negotiations with AT&T. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye except for Ms. Riffle whom voted nay.
Mrs. Drake recommended to council that we move forward with the Electric Aggregation giving authority to the Safety-Service Director to work with them. President of Council Mr. Martin asked Mr. Webster if we were okay to move forward with this. Mr. Martin was informed that we were okay to move forward as long as we had two public meetings. Mrs. Miller asked Mrs. Drake about opting out of the program. Mrs. Drake said if you don’t do anything from now to the 18th they would just get a lower rate. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that if they do nothing their rate goes down a little bit and it is called the GAP. If they still do nothing it will go on to SOPEC. If they choose to go with a company that is listed on the letter they received we can’t guarantee you will get a lower rate. Mrs. Miller stated that she did not get a copy of that letter. Mrs. Hoblitzell told Mrs. Miller that the letter would come from AEP. If you were in the aggregation before you probably didn’t get a letter. SOPEC will give you a letter to opt out. There will be two public meetings. The meetings will be held between 6:30-7:30 before the next two council meetings. Ms. Riffle asked how long this is for. Mrs. Drake stated in the material she read it didn’t list a length of time. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it is typically one year. Mr. Gant stated that the last one was for two years. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it would automatically renew if you didn’t cancel it. A motion was made by Mrs. Drake for a voice vote for approval to move forward with the Electric Aggregation. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee reported that he got an email from the Portsmouth City Council emphasizing the opposition of racism at high school athletic events. They wanted to know if we wanted to join in with them regarding this issue. Mr. Martin stated that you would have to let the rest of council read it as well as the administration and law director. Mr. Webster asked that Mr. Shutt’s forward the resolution to him and he would see that all members of council received a copy as well as the administration. Mr. Shutt’s also asked about the status of the Memorandum for the High School field. Mayor Lorentz stated that he contacted them probably two months ago. No one has stopped in to sign. Mayor Lorentz to check about this. Mr. Shutt’s said that he would like to have a signed copy for each member of council.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report. Mr. Locke did say that he attended the Southeast Ohio Port authority meeting and he feels that there is a lot of exciting things coming.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report. I attended a rally in Marietta. I didn’t see a lot of people from Belpre however I do hope we get a lot of support in backing the police department.
Mr. Martin reminded council members to send copy of their reports to the clerk.
Mr. Martin asked Mrs. Miller if we could do something with the capping of employee expenses that has been in your committee since January. Mrs. Miller stated that she hasn’t got any paperwork on that. We need to get this moved through so we can get that finished. I talked to Mrs. Meredith about that but I haven’t got any paperwork. Miss Pittenger informed Mr. Martin that there was pending legislation on the website regarding the request. Mr. Martin asked Mrs. Miller to take a look at it and get with the Safety-Service Director. Mr. Martin stated that Mrs. Hoblitzell needs this in place before everyone starts travelling so there are no issues in the city.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only.
Mr. Martin stated that there is only one piece of legislation which appears on this evening’s agenda:
Third Reading: RESOLUTION ACCEPTING THE AMOUNTS AND RATES AS DETERMINED BY THE BUDGET COMMISSION AND AUTHORIZING THE NECESSARY TAX LEVIES AND CERTIFYING THEM TO THE COUNTY AUDITOR.
Mr. Martin asked for any questions or discussion from the public on the above legislation. Hearing none we moved forward.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for third reading RESOLTUION ACCEPTING THE AMOUNTS AND RATES AS DETERMINED BY THE BUDGET COMMISSION AND AUTHORIZING THE NECESSARY TAX LEVIES AND CERTIFYING THEM TO THE COUNTY AUDITOR. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Resolution #15, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
There was no new business that came before this council this evening.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Steve McDougle 125 ½ Walnut Street stated that they have noticed that they have started patching pot holes on city streets. I would like to remind you that our alley continues to deteriorate and is getting worse. If you are unable to patch the holes could you put down some crushed limestone or something. Also I would encourage council to be very careful with the resolution regarding racism and sports. We run the risk of collecting outside attention. I’m not sure that this is where we want to go with this. Mrs. Hoblitzel stated that there is no money to the budget to do anything to fix alley. Mr. McDougle asked if they could reroute the traffic of the large trucks going into the business. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she would look into it.
Jesse Wonycott 805 Main Street informed council that she was unable to access the June 8th, 2020 minutes on the website. Mrs. Wonycott also asked for clarification on the electric aggregation. She asked if you didn’t participate last time can you participate this time. She was informed that there would be a representative present before the next council meetings to offer assistance. According to Mr. Webster and Mrs. Hoblitzell they both said no. Mrs. Hoblitzell said the meetings will be announced in the paper and on FaceBook and that there will be two public meetings held prior to the next council meeting from 4:30-5:30 and 6:30-7:30PM.
Mr. Locke stated that there has been some street patching around and I do appreciate that. Also I appreciate the Mayor hounding the commissioners about putting in the chemicals at the other end of town to kill the smell.
Ms. Riffle stated that Dominion Gas is up here working in my neighborhood and they have been very courtesy. They are doing a very good job, moving along quickly and cleaning up after themselves. Ms. Riffle asked Mrs. Hoblitzell if the sidewalk is part of the repair. According to Mrs. Hoblitzell this is part of the repair.
Ms. Riffle also reminded council that this weekend is the Cross Country race. There will be more people in town. I would like for those who can come out to do so and support the kids.
Ms. Riffle asked Mrs. Hoblitzell about the status of the Civitan Pump House. Mrs. Hoblitzell informed Ms. Riffle that completion had been delayed due to rain.
Ms. Riffle asked is we have made any progress on meetings. How is the City of Marietta able to conduct meetings with folks in attendance? I had told Mrs. Hoblitzell that we should talk with Jeff Totten about moving to a bigger location and live streaming it for us. There has to be a solution to our problem. Last meeting we had internet issues and tonight it is feedback. We need to start meeting again. Mr. Martin stated that by the State standards you can’t have any more than 10 people present. We have 7 members of council, clerk, President of Council and the law director. Therefore the Mayor, Safety-Service Director, Auditor, Treasurer and the media would have to meet in another area. According to Mr. Webster the last report he got from the Attorney General was 10 until December. This is the law in the State of Ohio. As the law director I can only tell you what the law says. At that point you will have to decide. We have 14 that should be in attendance and we would already be in violation as to what the State is telling us to do. I just know that I will not be there is we don’t abide by the law. This may affect funding that may come into play. It is inconvenient.
Mrs. Miller asked if we could try a school gymnasium because of the size. According to Mr. Martin is doesn’t matter the size of the building but because we are a governing body I don’t think we want to be in violation.
Mrs. Drake had heard that because of the COVID you had to get a voucher from the student to attend the Cross Country Race. Mrs. Drake stated that in some scenario’s you have to sign a COVID waiver to attend events.
Mr. Locke announced that the Junior High is having a Cross Country Race on Thursday night in the area of Civitan Park..
Mrs. Drake made a motion to adjourn at 8:17 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.