Council President Mr. Martin called the July 30, 2020 meeting to order at 7:35 PM. This meeting was originally scheduled for July 27, 2020 but was rescheduled due to some issues that we had at a prior meeting. Our meeting is being conducted through ZOOM due to the COVID-19 virus. 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, and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith. City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland was absent from the meeting due to work.
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.
Mr. Ferguson announced that there was an issue that was brought to his attention regarding a duplicate number of Resolution #8, 2020-2021. On June 22, 2020 A RESOLUTION AFFIRMING THAT ALL FUNDS RECEIVED FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CORONAVIRUS RELIEF DISTRIBUTION FUND PURSUANT TO H.B. 481 BE EXPENDED AS DESCRIBED IN THE CARES ACT IN 42 U.S.C.601(d) and on July 13, 2020 A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS was also assigned Resolution #8, 2020-2021. Mr. Ferguson stated that he talked with Mr. Webster about this and he thinks it is appropriate to just renumber A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS from Resolution #8 to Resolution #10 that was passed on July 13, 2020. Mr. Webster stated that nothing changes in the resolution just the numbering. Mrs. Drake made a motion to change the number from #8 to #10. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the minutes of June 22, 2020 as presented and by-pass the reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Motion passed.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the minutes of July 13, 2020 as presented and by-pass the reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Motion passed.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported that he wanted to share a few numbers with you that the O’Neill Center has been able to provide during the statewide mandated closure of the Belpre Senior Center.
Information & Referral – Belpre area seniors have been served through O’Neill’s Information and Referral service a total of 320 times since March. They have either been served through telephone, mail or face to face virtually.
Adult daycare – 20 units of adult daycare have been provided since March. This has been conducted remotely and includes caregiver services.
Homemaker – 72 hours of in-home services have been provided for Belpre area seniors since March. Aides provide light duty housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and more.
Transportation – 1557 trips have been provided for Belpre area seniors since March. This is primarily trips to physicians’ offices, although also includes pharmacies and deliveries.
Activities at home – While the building has been closed, activities at home continue and have been enjoyed 367 times since started for Belpre area seniors. We continue to provide virtual programming on a daily basis and have delivered materials to homes so participation can continue. In addition, we have filmed and live streamed programming from within the Belpre Senior Center. We are currently holding evidence-based programming virtually and telephonically.
Total – 2357 Total Units Provided since March.
Building improvements and preparation has been conducted in the absence of the seniors due to the state mandated closure. An O’Neill Center representative has been involved with assisting the state in completing restart plans for senior centers statewide. We feel confident that when numbers begin to reverse, the state will allow us to resume operations.
We have been in contact with the county engineer discussing the repair of Dragstrip Road. A contractor will drive a test pile next week and will hopefully give us a possible fix. If we have to do drilled shaft repairs it will be over the $600,000.00 and it doesn’t look like we will get state funding. Late note, the engineer had the test pile done today and at first glance seems to be a possible repair. Estimates are being prepared as of this day.
Our Eagle Scout starts the 1st of August on improvements to the dug-outs at Civitan Park. He is coordinating his work with the High School folks as well as Junior Baseball schedules.
The pond is being filled so that the Bass Clubs can at least hold the fishing tournament for our little ones. They assure me that social distancing and all safety precautions will be followed. This takes place this Saturday August 1st starting at 9-am. The river tournament will also be happening at the same time for the big boys.
The Recreation Commission met on July 21st to discuss the activities at Civitan ballfields. Our school administration has an agreement with the city that they wish for us to adopt. Both of our baseball leaders believe it to be a good idea and see no issues. Along with that Terry Mullen would like to start a travel team this fall and utilize the facility. Terry is in the process of obtaining a 501-c3 for his group and will coordinate his activities with Jr. Baseball and the High School.
On July 22nd I met with 7 other area Mayors to discuss the impact of this pandemic. All are experiencing the same issues but, it seems West Virginia is far ahead of Ohio in assistance to cities.
The county sewer line meter is in and operational as of this week. At first glance the readings seem to validate the accuracy of the old meter. This information leads me to believe they will not like this one either.
The Service Director, David Shaffer and I are travelling to Athens this week to inspect a new application for blacktop roadways. This is supposed to add years of service to roadways that are 3 to 5 years old and much cheaper than an overlay.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell announced that we had an employee in the water department resign. A new person has started in the water department. The vacant position in the sewer department has also been hired.
The apple trees in the park have been removed where the wetland will be constructed.
Duckbill has been ordered for the O’Neill lift station. It has been a couple of years in the making. To be installed in the next couple of weeks.
The Ohio Health Department set up at the city building to perform a COVID-19 study. The workers were here from the 17th to the 20th. Surveys were sent out in April and they went to the homes of the residents who responded to do testing.
The street department is asking for an appropriation to pave some city roads. The sewer department is asking for an appropriation for a telemetry system to monitor and control remote lift stations, boosters and tanks and installation of actuators, which is an EPA requirement. The fire department is asking for an appropriation for defibrillators and auto pulse systems, life bands. Leslie will ask for the appropriations in her report.
The county commissioners have installed the new meter and reader at the lift station across from the Church of Christ. Hopefully this will take care of any problems that there has been in the past and we can move forward with the correct billing.
Some of the Cares Act monies are being spent to automate the parks restrooms. They are being updated with self-flushing toilets, automated water spigots, automatic light switches, automatic soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers.
A travel policy and a COVID testing policy has been sent to all employees. The travel policy is updated as the governor changes the orders. The testing policy requires the personnel to receive the 12-24 hour COVID test.
The installation of the new Dominion gas line will be starting in September.
Roger Wright had Bob Lane’s Welding put 3 pilings in on Drag Strip Road to see if we could get by with a much cheaper fix for the slip. I was really excited to see that we can go this route to get this road repaired. This will save the city about $600,000. I really appreciated Roger doing this for the city.
Ms. Riffle asked if either one of the sewer and water hires hold any licenses. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that they have up to 18 months to get their license. Only the sewer hire is required to get license. The water hire is not required a license.
In the Mayor’s report and yours as well the Drag Strip repair you stated that we wouldn’t get any State funds for that. Why is that? It’s not because of COVID! Is it because of the nature of the issue? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we are looking into NWPC Funds at 90/10 or 80/20 with this costing around $100,000.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported the 2019 Audit will be filed tomorrow. The auditor’s will be sending each of you a copy of the audit. If you don’t get one in the near future let me know and I will see that you do get one.
I attended the tax budget meeting at the County Court House with the County Prosecutor, County Treasurer and County Auditor and I’m glad to say that all of our paperwork was approved.
Today was our first shut-off day for utilities since February 2020. We made arrangements with a few of our clients that they can pay half this month then half next month to get their water bill current and to give them some relief and forgiveness. It went fairly smoothly at the front desk. I don’t know what kind of abuse the guys took that turned off the water but it did go smoothly at the front desk. We started out with 107 people that had their water turned off.
City Law Director Mr. Webster announced that Leslie received from the Ohio Municipal League a proposed piece of legislation in regards to supporting a piece of legislation in Congress to allow municipalities to expend the COVID money we received rather operating expenses received during this particular time. It may not just be reimbursements for COVID-19 expenses. I will email this to each one of you. Look at it, I would note for council that typically we have taken a position at council on Ohio State legislative issues as opposed to Congressional legislative issues. You will have to decide if it is appropriate. It can be done at the next meeting. They did give us a piece of sample legislation to use. You need to make a valued judgement whether we want to get involved in supporting or not supporting a piece of federal legislation.
Secondly I wanted to note that I have been in contact since the sewer meter arose with the County Prosecutor in regards to trying to resolve the issue of getting our money paid back. Leslie can confirm whether or not the city has received the check. I was informed that it had been. It wouldn’t be for the full amount at this point but they did send us a check. I do continue to work with that. I talked to Leslie about the month of July being a mixed animal when it comes to that billing because I’m going to see that the city sends a bill from when the meter was calibrated to the end of the month. The other portion of the month will be calibrated by the monthly amount we have been billing so that we don’t get short changed that amount. We will make sure that the July billing doesn’t just start with the meter reading, it will actually be for both.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland was absent due to work.
Communications and Petitions:
President of Council Mr. Martin stated in talking with the Safety-Service Director this week we may have an opportunity where a company is wanting to add an antenna system to one of the water towers. They will pay us a monthly lease. When I was on council they discussed wanting to put a 100 foot tower in the middle of town. This is just going to be a 3-4 foot antenna tower system to the top of one of our water towers. They will need to add a few things to it. I’m going to assign this to Mrs. Drakes, Utility Committee. I have some of the drawing’s here that I will be glad to leave for you along with a sample of the lease that they are speaking about. Mr. Webster will have to take a look about the language of the lease and finalize. Mrs. Drake to pick up paperwork at the city building. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she could email to her.
Ms. Riffle asked if we had something like this last year or the year before. Mrs. Drake stated that it did come up last year. Mr. Martin stated that it hasn’t come up since he has been back on council. It was done when I was on council. This is not the same. Mrs. Drake stated that Mr. Cross did bring this up before he resigned. We had $20,000 in the budget to do inspections of the water towers and stuff. This is done every 10 years. They are proposing that they will take care of the inspections and do them every 5 years plus pay us a monthly stipend to be able to put the system on top of the water tower. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that they would provide a structural analyzes every 5 years. They will not inspect the inside of the water tower. This could help us in finding problems every 5 years than when we do our inspections every 10. The monthly stipend can help us offset cost of painting water towers.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee had no report.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee reported that his committee met prior to this evenings meeting to discuss ambulance service. The meeting went very well. We will continue to move along with the new ambulance service.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee reported that he was presented a memorandum of understanding from the School Board about Civitan Park. Mr. Shutts asked if he should call a meeting to discuss with the commission and the district. The memorandum was signed by the President of the School Board Leonard Wiggins. He was informed that he should hold a meeting. Mr. Shutts called a meeting for August 4, 2020 at 6PM through ZOOM to discuss issues at Civitan Park/ballfields.
Ms. Riffle asked Mr. Shutts to send a copy of the memorandum of understanding. Mr. Shutts stated that he would send copies to all members.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee reported that he had cancelled his previously scheduled committee meeting. He will not be holding any meetings unless necessary until we can get the public involved. I did pass up a Southeastern Ohio Port Authority meeting this evening to attend the committee meeting. There are some exciting things that I’m hoping for Belpre in the near future.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Some members of council didn’t have their amended copy of the agenda. Ms. Pittenger informed council and the administration that the clerk did send out an amended copy the following day.
Mr. Shutts asked Mr. Ferguson to notify the media of the upcoming Parks and Recreation Committee meeting.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second 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 second 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.
Mr. Gant brought before council for first reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO ADVERTISE FOR REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS TO PROVIDE AMBULANCE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES. Discussion followed. Mr. Locke pointed out a correction that needed to be made to the legislation. His copy showed the dates 2016-2017. The legislation should read 2020-2021. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye except for Ms. Riffle whom stepped away from her computer and was not present for the vote. Per Mr. Webster the vote was logged as a 6-0 vote.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Mr. William Cassidy 824 Belrock Avenue, Belpre stated that the item addressing the Emergency Ambulance Service was not updated on the cities website.
Mrs. Meredith asked for a point of clarification on how committee meetings are announced. If a committee meeting is called at a regular council meeting the clerk is not responsible for sending to the media. If a committee meeting is called in between regular meetings it is the responsibility of the clerk to send to the media. If any meetings are cancelled whether they are called the night of the regular meeting or in between meetings it is the responsibility of the committee chairman to contact the clerk so she can inform the media. Mr. Martin referred the question to Mr. Webster. Mr. Webster stated that he knew that this has been the policy for years. All I can say is that I haven’t received any complaints from the press. If I get a complaint I will pass it on to you and Mrs. Meredith. I know the meetings are being published because the public have knowledge of the meetings which means they are receiving notifications. It seems the process is working. Mr. Cassidy had a good point that we have to be sure everything is updated on the cities website. We received the notification to add the legislation at the last meeting. It was forwarded to all members of council. Some council people received and others said they did not. Clerk will work on this issue. Mr. Martin has sent out messages to all members of council on how the procedure should work on scheduling and cancelling meetings.
Ms. Riffle stated that in regards to our council meetings I have talked with Jeff Totten who runs MOV2GO and they produce a football segment and they are producing a lot of graduations videos for all the local high schools. I talked with him about stopping by and talking to Mrs. Hoblitzell about videoing or live streaming the meetings. He is going to get with Mrs. Hoblitzell to figure out if it would work for him and to see how it would work for us. Mr. Martin stated that he and Mrs. Drake had a conversation about this earlier in the week. He also wanted to remind council that the 10 person rule is still in affect so until that changes he wasn’t sure how it would work.
Mr. Gant asked if he should have read the resolution under new business. Mr. Webster stated that he could but he didn’t feel that it is necessary.
Evan Bevins with the News and Sentinel verified that the Parks and Recreation Committee meeting would be held at 6PM on August 4, 2020 for the purpose of discussing the fields at Civitan Park.
Mrs. Miller asked if the meeting was Tuesday August 4th. 2020. Mr. Shutts stated that the meeting is Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 at 6PM.
Mr. Gant made a motion to adjourn at 8:23PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.