Council President Mr. Martin called the July 13, 2020 meeting to order at 7:34 PM. Our meeting is being conducted through ZOOM due to the COVID-19 virus. Also Council members were present in council chambers for the meeting. 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 Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, and City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland. Absent from the meeting was Mayor Lorentz and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Council President Mr. Martin gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
President of Council Mr. Martin announced that the minutes of June 22, 2020 and July 13, 2020 will be presented at the next council meeting per the clerk.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz was absent. President of Council Mr. Martin verified with all members of council that they received and have read a copy of the Mayor’s report
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell reported that the city is in the process of switching over to aeration at the Sewer Plant.
We are getting ready to hire for the Sewer Plant position. We contacted him today. His name is James Wright and will begin in two weeks from today as he has to have his physical and go through his drug screening.
I have been overly busy with everything.
We have had a lot of calls regarding trash service.
Ms. Riffle asked what kind of certification the new hire has.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that he went to school and his studies consisted of water plant operations.
Ms. Riffle asked if he has his license yet.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that he is not required to have them yet.
Ms. Riffle asked if this would be put into a timeline for new hires.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that only if they want to advance. He is being hired in as an Operator I.
Miss Pittenger stated that the contract stated they have up to 18 months to get their license. The city pays for the 1st two classes. If the classes aren’t passed the third attempt is on his/her own dime.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that he is required to hold Water Certification but not Operator of Record.
Mr. Locke asked Mrs. Hoblitzell about the Drag Strip repair quoted at $107,000. Mrs. Hoblitzell informed Mr. Locke that would be ¾ of a million dollars to fix Drag Strip. Miss Pittenger stated that Mr. Locke was talking about the FEMA reimbursement for Farson Street is $107,000.
Miss Pittenger stated that she has been by the Sewage Plant a couple of times in the last two weeks and it smells horrible. Is this why we are changing to aeration? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that no it is because the commissioners have not put in the sulphates that are required. They quit putting it in because it cost too much money. This is a lawsuit requirement and they are looking in to ordering them and getting them put in there. Miss Pittenger stated at the last meeting you were going to explain the meters that are being added to the supplemental. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that these are the replacement meters that are changed every ten years. They are replacing them as they go bad.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that the Finance chair Dave Ferguson, Treasurer Mrs. Copeland and I visited Citizens bank as I mentioned at last month’s meeting. The depository legislation that has been prepared includes the ability to keep funds at all three banks that provided a bid, Citizens Bank, Peoples Bank, and Wesbanco Bank. The bulk of our money will be transferred to Citizens Bank because of the excellent interest rate that they are offering. Funds will be kept at the other two banks while we have outstanding loans at those institutions where it is used as collateral and to show good community partnerships.
Exhibit A for the supplemental appropriations has been updated and an email sent to all of you last week. The new exhibit is also on the website in the pending legislation of the council reports page. You will notice the addition of Water Meters for the Water Department. This is to replace failing meters. We originally budgeted $350,000 for this project but the failing software did not pick up the addition of this and was passed without this line item. Also, added are expenses for our newly created Corona Relief Fund that was created for the use of the Federal funds received. Mrs. Drake and I attended a webinar on what those money’s could be used for that was presented by the OML to insure we are following proper procedures. The SSD has contacted our cleaning company to sanitize the park restrooms, playground equipment and picnic tables in the parks thru the end of the year. We will be able to reimburse ourselves for some expenses and a large amount of the $130,000 received will be used for equipment to make us safer. The SSD is working on that now. If we don’t have the money encumbered by October it is to be returned to the state for redistribution.
Mr. Webster informed Miss Pittenger that she did not receive the updated numbers. They have the original resolution so if you can get it to me tomorrow I can attach to the original resolution that has to go for signature if passed this evening.
The Tax Budget legislation needs signed by President of Council Mr. Martin and our Pro-tem clerk by Wednesday so that I can get the legislation to the county. I will let them know that the Mayor is not available for signing and will get them the copy with his signature before the budget hearing.
Mr. Ferguson to stop by Mr. Webster’s office to sign original tax budget along with Council President Mr. Martin.
Finally, the adjustment report is online and was sent to all members of council last week. I am asking that it be approved.
Mrs. Drake 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 Mr. Webster stated that Connie had alluded to was the ongoing issue with the County Commissioners. I have spoken to the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney in regards to the issue. There were three emails back and forth at the end of last week which I have responded to. There is a letter being typed by my office that will be going to the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney. The sewer from Barlow was basically added along with Little Hocking and Oxbow to our system. It was read and paid every month. However there was a dispute that the meter was reading incorrectly so we got into a law suit in Common Pleas Court requiring that the County Commissioners pay their fair share of the billing. It had an order that was entered in by the court. One of the orders was that the meter was our responsibility although it was maintained by the county. Secondly there was supposed to be a chemical added to the system to get rid of the odor problem and thirdly the County was to supply us a list of the people that was on that system and any new people that were added on an annual bases. We have not received any of those things. The last few months the meter became an issue and the County wanted to replace the meter. The engineering was for a six inch meter. Our engineer approved that. He got notification on a Thursday that they were going to install the meter on the next Tuesday. On that Tuesday we found out that it wasn’t a six inch meter it was an 8 inch meter so we didn’t have the engineering code so we said no we are not going forward with this until you get us the engineering reports from your engineer to approve this. There has been an ongoing brew ha hah and that is how we got at $20,000 a month which was $5,000 more a month because the meter was reading higher. They agreed to pay the $20,000. A meter was held and we were to be notified when the new meter was coming in. When we found out that the 8 inch line we were notified that someone was getting into our sewer line. The County Commissioners didn’t notify us so the Mayor asked why we weren’t told. We are still in the middle of the brew ha hah with the County. It is now at the Attorney’s level and I will keep you informed as to what is going on. The fact of the matter is right now Washington County owes us over $41,000. One of the County Commissioners said if you don’t like it than sue us. You may get what you wish for if you want to keep that attitude. We are trying to calm the situation down. The new meter is in. Connie raised the question as to how the meter is to be read at its location. We need to find out if there is a place to read it so we can bill for it. There is multiple issues but it is the County Commissioners responsibility to fix it. I will let you know the progress we have made at the next meeting of council.
President of Council Mr. Martin stated that we went through the same scenario back in 2008. The meter was replaced three or four times and the County Commissioners don’t want to pay us the money they rightfully owe us. It has a history of how it is conducted.
Mr. Webster stated that as long as people can stay calm and communicate these issues can be resolved. We are beyond the calm state at this point.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that a copy of her report is online. I will give the clerk a signed copy the next time I’m in the building. 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:
President of Council Mr. Martin stated that Mr. Webster’s office sent out legislation today. The first item is A RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE PUBLIC DEPOSITORY FOR ACTIVE, INACTIVE, AND INTERIM FUNDS OF THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO and AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING A CREDIT/PURCHASING CARD USAGE POLICY FOR THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO. The credit/purchasing card usage was requested to be added to the agenda this evening for first reading and I will add the Public Depository under my committee report this evening.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee reported that he had attended the meeting with Miss Pittenger at Citizens Bank and if you’ve not been there it is a very nice facility. I look forward to working with them in the years to come. I would like to have a motion to add to tonight’s agenda for first reading A RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE PUBLIC DEPOSITORY FOR ACTIVE, INACTIVE, AND INTERIM FUNDS OF THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO. Mrs. Miller made a motion to add to tonight’s agenda A RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE PUBLIC DEPOSITORY FOR ACTIVE, INACTIVE, AND INTERIM FUNDS OF THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee reported that he needed to get with Mr. Webster about preparing legislation giving the SSD the authority to start the bid process on the EMS. The SSD is going to send out a 90 day notice of the bidding process for the ambulance service. I had three meetings one with SSD, SSD and fire chief and I want to schedule a meeting for July 27, 2020 at 6PM in regards to Pro-Care. Belpre has done well with the Census for the City. It is 67.6% completed. This is the best so far in Washington County. We are still 4.8% behind from 10 years ago. Copy has been sent to Kim but will send her a new update. I would like to let Leslie know we didn’t get information from Pro-Care. They are to send us monthly updates however they have not done so since the contract.
Mr. Locke wanted to know how long Mr. Gant’s meeting was to last. Mr. Gant’s meeting will be at 6-6:30 and Mr. Locke will hold his meeting at 6:30 PM.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee reported that her committee met on June 30, 2020 at 7:04PM with the following attending by ZOOM: Mrs. Hoblitzell, Mr. Shutts, Mr. Locke, Mr. Ferguson, plus two community citizens.
We discussed the Water Ordinance and what changes or additions need to be made. Chapter 939 has not been updated in over 30 years. We were looking at billing for water, delinquent bills, and handling of water leaks.
We looked at ordinances from other Ohio cities: Barberton, Ironton, Gallipolis and Portsmouth.
We also discussed how the Cross-references are updated and when.
Note: we still need to look at Ironton 1046.06 on adjustments to see if we need to make additional amendment for Adjustments to bills.
Following the meeting I prepared and sent to all members our Chapter 939 with a proposed consideration of how to incorporate the addition data into our ordinance.
Meeting adjourned at 7:33 PM and we moved on to Backwater Valve.
The Backwater Valve meeting began at 7:34 p.m.
We discussed the need for the Backwater Valve and how it will help, especially with our aged infrastructure.
We went over the ordinance the Safety-Service Director provided along with information we found from Peters Township Sanitary Authority, PA and the City of Zanesville, OH.
We need to amend our ordinance Chapter 931 to add the data needed to incorporate Backwater Valve.
Following the meeting I prepared the ordinance on Backwater Valve so we can use it as a working tool for our next meeting. Also provided members with the ordinance information from Zanesville, OH. The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.
Mrs. Drake also reported that the Utilities Committee met on July 13, 2020 at 7PM through ZOOM with all Council Members present. We had several citizens participating in the discussion of Backwater Valve.
We were not able to get over all the material as planned. The material discussed was information the SSD had obtained from another city, which was very informative. We covered A, B, C, D, and E through E-e. The remainder of the material will be covered at another committee meeting.
Next, at future date we will go over E-f through L, and look at additional material from another location.
The next Committee meeting is July 21, 2020 at 7:30 PM to discuss Zanesville, OH ordinance on Backwater Valve. Meeting adjourned at 7:29 PM
President of Council Mr. Martin asked if our County goes to a Level II can we find a facility that we can social distance. What is our limit on meeting in regards to personnel? Mr. Webster to check with the Health Department tomorrow but I believe it is 10. I don’t believe we can have an indoor meeting but we might be able to have an outdoor meeting. I will advise you of current rules tomorrow.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mr. Shutts publically apologized to all of council. He didn’t understand the difference between the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission. I want to apologize to Connie and others for the misunderstanding.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee met on June 25, 2020 with the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority. First one I attended. I feel that there could be some exciting things happened in the City of Belpre. I would like to have a Planning and Zoning committee meeting at 6:30 PM on July 27, 2020 to discuss zoning changes.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report. I know I’m to work on Employee caps for expenses. I think we need to take into consideration having some of these committee meetings at a later time so citizens can attend. I feel it is a disservice to the people.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for third reading A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Resolution #8, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for third reading A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE TAX BUDGET FOR THE YEAR 2021. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Resolution #9, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for first reading AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING A CREDIT/PURCHASING CARD USAGE POLICY FOR THE CITY OF BELPE, OHIO. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for first reading A RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE PUBLIC DEPOSITORY FOR ACTIVE, INACTIVE AND INTERIM FUNDS OF THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Steve McDougle 125 ½ Walnut Street, Belpre appeared before council on the condition of the alley behind his house on Hamilton Court. Is there any plans to do maintenance on some alleys at this point? As of today we are looking for funds to pave anything. Leslie is getting together the amount of funds to do that. I know she needs time to get this done. Our budget was reduced by $150,000. The funds are not there now. We are trying to get the bad pot holes filled now and do what we can this year.
On the COVID-19 discussion and the governor encouraging everyone to wear mask especially indoors. Everywhere we’ve been people are ignoring it. Is Belpre looking into an ordinance to do something about that? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she didn’t think the city could do any more than what Governor DeWine requires. We are going by his orders. Mr. McDougle mentioned folks not wearing mask in Krogers. He was informed that this is a Health Department issue.
Mr. Locke stated that asphalt was being taken to the airport in Parkersburg. The job was recently completed. The city is trying to repair pot holes in the city now.
Mr. Martin stated that the alley between 3rd and Washington Boulevard has the same potholes.
Sandy Elder stated that she wanted to thank Donna Miller for her comment about opening these meetings. I don’t understand why some of these ordinances and resolutions have to be passed so quickly. Could meetings be held at Civitan Park? The park is big enough that those concerned can come and bring a lawn chair. The trash contract was up for bid however there was so much confusion and lack of communication that it was a mess. There has been other contracts that came up that we haven’t been able to put any input on. The other thing is when you get ready to go out for bids where is it posted. How do you know who to send proposals to? Those will go in local papers. We are not at the point of bidding yet. We have to have three readings before we can put out for bids.
Mr. Webster stated that we try to determine the major potential bidders just like the trash contract. We supply them with the bid package so they know the bid is available to them. We make it available through sources so EMS people or providers of ambulance service can see there is going to be a bid package available.
Mrs. Drake commented that council has certain things they have to go through in order to complete an ordinance or resolution. What you have to realize if we don’t finish it by the end of the year it falls of into la la land. So anything we are working on or controlled by a contract determines when it has to be done.
Jesse Wyncott thanking Mrs. Drake for notifying her of the committee meeting and forwarding the items that would be discussed. I apparently wasn’t supposed to share what I feel is public information and I do apologize. (Additional discussion followed however was unable to pick up communication regarding backwater valve due to static from ZOOM..
Mr. William Cassidy 824 Belrock Avenue, Belpre thanked Mrs. Miller for her statement regarding committee meetings. I know we have problems with COVID but council needs to be in public. I suggest you visit Marietta’s FaceBook page. The audio is very good. I hope council will look at Facebook live or TEAM.
Mr. Cassidy asked Miss Pittenger about her report. The Adjustments haven’t been completed for July because we aren’t at the end of the month of July. We approve for the month before. Mr. Cassidy verified for both the Adjustment Report and the Treasurer’s Report.
Mr. Cassidy asked Mr. Webster about the number of committee members at a meeting. Are we in violation of the Sunshine Law when there are more in attendance? According to Mr. Webster they are in open committee meetings and there is no voting taking place. The committee may not actually take a vote. If the committee is in agreement the proposal is forwarded to Mr. Webster to prepare legislation.
Mr. Cassidy asked for someone to read the Mayor’s Report. President of Council Mr. Martin read his report.
The County is working on a new meter that measures the flow from the county. It should be complete before our meeting on Monday. They are now at least two months behind on payment. I’m sure now that they won’t like the readings of this meter either.
On Wednesday one of our water employees resigned to accept work elsewhere. The SSD, Denzil and I reviewed applications and will start interviews shortly.
An employee for the Wastewater Plant opening should be complete in another week or so.
The Ice Cream Social as well as the Belpre Homecoming is cancelled.
Not much happening as of now on Economic Development.
The land owners around the fire department and I have discussed placing their land as well as the fire department on the website as one parcel. If this can be done with council’s blessing there would be a large enough plot to entice a larger business to Belpre. At this point it is only talk and we would need to be very sure of an affordable place for our firemen and good for all.
There is good bit of interest in the Recreational areas of our parks this summer. I took the liberty of copying the ordinance as establishing the Recreation Commission. As of now the committee consist of Terry Mullins, Bill Locke, Zach Carte, Elmer Lee Shutts, Larry Arnold and the Mayor. There will be a meeting on July 21st in the Chamber.
I know we are all inconvenienced but I hope you look at other ways to have the meetings.
Mr. Locke stated that after the last council meeting we discussed back and forth about the meetings. I know Connie is looking at other ways to hold the meetings. We know ZOOM isn’t perfect. Please give Connie time to work on things.
Mr. Martin stated that there seems to be some thought that we are not trying to do something or circumventing procedures. We are following procedures. We are doing the best that the city has the technologies or resources to do. The question of running through quickly and not needing to get it done. When I look at referrals awaiting action I see that there are 8 pieces of legislation that are in committee right now. Five pieces of the legislation was assigned in January. So we are working through this stuff and we are working diligently. Mr. Martin went through the committee assignments. Nothing is being put through without being looked at.
Ms. Riffle asked about the Emergency Appropriation for the $100.000. Does it expire Wednesday July 15th, 2020? I was just making sure we are aware of it.
Mr. Cassidy asked about all the things in committee how many items would shut the city down. Mr. Martin stated it would depend on the situation. This is all part of operating and budgeting for the city, etc. I don’t think the way the meetings are being held is the most productive way. I think we need to find a better way to conduct the meeting.
Angela Parker Reed 107 Walnut Street addressed the Backwater Valve issue. Will there be any information available to the public on the Backwater Valve outside the cities web page or FaceBook ? Not everyone has access to computer system. How can they get information on the Backwater valve? The committee is working on the backwater valve. Once the committee gathers information it is discussed back and forth until they reach an agreement.
Miss Pittenger stated that the clerk sends the information to the paper and it is posted on-line. Also Miss Pittenger informed Ms. Riffle that the Emergency Appropriation would expire sometime this week.
Mrs. Drake stated that looking at her phone someone has already posted information to WTAP and it is not correct.
Mr. Webster stated that he will make copies available in his office if you call and ask for them.
Mrs. Drake made a motion to adjourn at 8:54PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.