Council President Mr. Martin called the January 11, 2021 meeting to order at 7:40 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.
A motion was made by Mr. Ferguson to by-pass the reading of the December 14, 2020 minutes and accept as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz stated that hopefully, everyone enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to a better new year.
The service director and I met with a dispatch candidate and after the interview we were turned down. The idea of midnights was not in his future as it turns out.
The Civil Service commission reports we have some forty applications for job openings in our city ranks. As of this time we need 1 officer, 1 dispatcher, 1 Laborer II, and a parks worker later in the season.
I have started the paperwork for an ARC funding opportunity. This will go toward the water line improvements on Farson Street to better service the hospital and Rockland Ridge. This is a 50/50 match.
Council should be looking for an email from the Ohio Ethics Commission for your financial disclosure forms.
The shopping center re-vamp is continuing. In speaking with the new owners, they have decided to rename the plaza (Belpre Market Square).
Newly elected Commissioners Charlie Schilling and James Booth met in our council room on the 6th. The Commissioners are questioning our sewer bill and or meter readings. They understand that they have an issue with the sewer line coming to Belpre and are going to attempt using a camera to pinpoint the actual trouble spots. The S.D. and I also spoke of a grant opportunity that could benefit all if we work together. We have agreed that they will pay $30,000 a month until this camera work is done. If they find no problems they then will play catch up. I spoke to them late this afternoon and they are going to try and hook their system up to a skate system like we have so that they are able to control the flow at the West End of town. I have sent an agreement to Mr. Webster so he can do legislation for us on that.
A young man has contacted me looking for an Eagle Scout project. The S.D. and I are trying to help him start the Pickle Ball court for Civitan. The city has some work to do first. The scout will be looking for volunteers when the paperwork is complete. So beware.
Mrs. Drake asked if there is a grant available that could help this Eagle Scout. Mayor Lorentz replied that it was quite possible.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell announced that the Senior Center has been upgraded with auto towel dispensers, soap dispensers, toilet with auto flush, auto entry doors and auto lighting in the bathrooms. Bonnie, the director, had an ice machine and new Bunn coffee maker, cabinets and new countertops installed. Now if we can just get the center open.
The city donated $20,000 to BAM to help with water turn-on for the Belpre residents. If you know anyone that is having a hard time making their water payment, as well as heating and gas, please let them know they can contact BAM for support.
City of Belpre masks were mailed or taken to all residents of the city. Lisa, Sandy and Leslie was working on this.
The roofs over the entryway and over the future pay window are almost complete. The pay window will be installed in the next couple of weeks.
Orion lift station upgrades started today. Hope to be done by the end of the week.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger announced that both the December Utility Adjustment Report and Treasurers Report appear on-line and are before you this evening. Also in the City council reports for those who didn’t get the email the last two reports that were sent to the Ohio Grants Portal shows the breakdown for what our grants were for. From COVID Funds at this time we have spent $394,720.62 with $55,466.00 still encumbered and $164.542.00 unobligated at this point. I don’t know if we will be receiving any more COVID Funds. We will need to do a supplemental and I will get the information together for Mr. Webster. As we’ve gotten the end of year numbers completed and compared to the budget at the end of the year which normally we don’t do it that way there were a few things a little bit corky. There are two funds in the negative amount. We will need to transfer monies to these funds. We did not put anything in Fund 481 for the Corona Virus Fund because we thought it all had to be spent by December 31, 2020. We will need to add to our budget and part of the trash bills are going to be paid out of our former Sanitation Fund and that didn’t make it on the paper either. That will also need to be added to the Budget. This information will also be sent to Mr. Webster. All I need today is approval of the Utility Adjustment Report for December. Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the Utility Adjustment Report for December as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
City Law Director Mr. Webster announced that he was contacted by the Mayor in regards to the Sewer Issue for which I have been in contact with the County Commissioners. I have talked to the City Prosecutor and we are both going to collaborate on the agreement so we can have that ready for both sides for signatures in the next week or so. There are a couple other items involving the fatal accident on Farson Street that we are working on with the police department and our insurance company and whether we do or do not need to talk to ODOT regarding the red light problem on Farson and Braun.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that a copy of the December Treasurers Report is on line and needs council approval. Mrs. Miller 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: None
Mr. Martin reminded all those running for a position on council that your petitions must be turned into the Board of Election on February 4, 2021.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee had no report. Mr. Ferguson asked if we need to run AN AMENDED ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2021 for three readings this evening. According to Miss Pittenger we do not.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee announced that Mark Milhoan contacted me by e mail and was concerned about paying a water bill that a tenant had left him after vacating the apartment. The bill was for $258 dollars. He was upset that the city did not contact him that there was an outstanding bill. I tried to contact Mr. Milhoan by phone and got his answering machine. I did contact Mr. Denzel Ray and asked him about the situation. Denzel said that the meters for that rental complex is inside the apartments. Denzel also said that the EPA guidelines are that ALL meters are to be installed on the outside at the owner’s expense. There is only a few homes and apartments that has the water meter inside that has been grandfathered in at this time but could be required to have them moved at a later time. It would be too dangerous for the city employees to go up and ask the residence to allow them to come inside to shut the water off so that is not an option. I called Miss. Pittenger and asked if it was feasible to contact the landlord if a person renting had a delinquent water bill. If the water meter was outside they would not have to contact anyone. They would just have to shut off the service at the meter. But to have over 6000 water bills , around 1000 rental properties and then try to find out who owns which rental would put a great burden on the city and the work load that the employees already have on them. They only solution that I see is to move the water meters outside of the buildings. I did discuss this with Mrs. Drake since it was her committee.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report. Mr. Martin thanked Ms. Riffle for filling in for him at the last meeting on such short notice.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report. Mrs. Drake questioned the law director on the status of Chapter 931 and 939 and also the AT&T Contract. Are we going to do anything about those or are we going to have them taken out of committee?
Mr. Webster asked what Chapter 931 and 939 was? He stated that he doesn’t have it memorized. Mrs. Drake stated that Chapter 931 deals with the sewer and 939 deals with water. Mr. Webster stated there was a draft on both of these.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she would like to keep in committee.
Mrs. Hoblitzell asked if the AT&T tower was approved.
Mrs. Drake stated it was approved pending the law director’s review of the contract. Mrs. Drake stated she read the contract and saw a few things she didn’t like.
Ms. Riffle stated she thought we just agreed on them doing the studies. The studies was to see if the towers were feasible and if they were feasible to be pulled.
Mrs. Drake said to her knowledge we haven’t heard anything more from AT&T.
According to Mrs. Hoblitzell they emailed her asking if they could move forward because the meeting he attended said that we approved to move forward. This was about a week and a half ago. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we just approved the study and not moving forward. Mrs. Hoblitzell is going to refer to the minutes of September 2020 and report back at the next meeting.
Ms. Riffle stated that she understood that we were giving them permission to go up and check it out and to be sure it suited their needs. Once and only then we would bring before council to decide whether or not we would do it.
Mr. Martin agreed with Ms. Riffle’s statement.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that no company is going to do the study without an approval because it cost a lot of money to do the study.
Mr. Webster stated that his concern about the contract is not clear in regards to increases in rental payments over a period of time or renegotiations or number of potential customers they may have. The contract is written for the benefit of the supplier and not the city.
Mrs. Hoblitzell to review the minutes before going back to the company regarding the contract and what was actually approved.
Mr. Webster stated that there would be some benefit to the city but more to the company.
Mr. Martin stated that this is something we need to consider because of the revenue.
Ms. Riffle stated that it is a nice way to bring revenue to the city but I don’t like the optic of it. We voted it in the ordinance that we are preventing others from making money but now we are going to turn around and make money and have the highest structure in the city.
Once again Mrs. Hoblitzell will review and report back at the next meeting.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mr. Shutts briefly discussed the agreement on the baseball field, He stated that it must be completed by the end of February. Mr. Shutts called a committee meeting for January 14, 2021 at 6PM. He asked Mrs. Hoblitzell if she would be available to run the meeting. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she thought she would be available.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report. Mr. Locke stated that he is currently working on the Burton Plan.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION APPROVING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CITY OF BELPRE PERSONNEL POLICY MANUAL. 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 AN AMENDED ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2021. Mr. Ferguson stated that numbers were incorrect. 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:
Mrs. Drake informed the Safety-Service Director that information regarding AT&T appears in the September 14, 2020. Minutes.
Mr. Ferguson made a motion to adjourn at 8:19 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
___________________________________________________________________________________ President of Council Mr. Martin
Clerk of Belpre City Council Kim Meredith