Council President Protem Ms. Riffle called the October 26, 2020 meeting to order at 7:34 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. Absent from the October 26, 2020 meeting was President of Council Mr. Martin.
Council President Protem Ms. Riffle asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Gant gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Due to the Clerk of Council being out of town there was no minutes to approve. There will be two sets of minutes on the November 9, 2020 meeting. The minutes will be for October 12, 2020 and October 26, 2020.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported that the Tree Commission along with Jon Neff trimmed the trees along Main Street. Most of these smaller trees were planted just a few years ago so Ann Bonner and Jon assisted with the proper trimming techniques.
The Chamber of Commerce fall Dinner and recognitions will be virtual like everything else this year. I awarded Ray and Kim Blackburn a key to the city for all their work and commitment to our community. Ray and Kim own the Wendy Franchises in our area and are constantly donating time and money to just about every civic group in existence. They are also great stewards of the Dave Thomas foundation that helps with fostering children.
The S.S.D. and I attended the Burton Planning rollout of our economic development plan on Friday. It is my opinion that we had a pretty well-rounded group and hopefully with everybody’s help we can implement good plans for the future. Jim Lenner is on with us this evening and I’m going to ask that you give him a few minutes to speak.
Our Police Officers as well as the Fire Department joined us on Sunday for a drive by birthday for Gavin Pfalzgraf. Hopefully this made the little guy smile and lifted his spirits. If you saw the news clip from WTAP trust me, it did not do the event justice. The parade filled the boat ramp area as we staged for the drive-by. This response makes you feel good about our community.
The 24th was Drug Takeback Day in Belpre. Thank you to the Sheriff’s Department for holding this again. I stopped by and opened the Senior Center so they could get in out of the rain.
Trick or Treat is still on for this coming Saturday. As of now nothing has changed in the COVID rules of conduct. As I stated earlier, we should avoid crowds by possibly just leaving your treats outside for the little treaters to gather.
Due to all the restrictions around the pandemic I have decided to not invite the students from our high school for Government day in December. A call to the school has not been returned as of yet. If we can set a date after the year’s end, I will give you ample time to respond.
Jim Lenner part of the Burton Planning Services of our Economic Development Plan addressed council in regards to the Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Belpre. He said that they were retained by the Chamber of Commerce and Port Authority to create an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the city. So far we have created the background information. We had our first meeting on Friday as the Mayor stated in his report. There were about twenty people representing the city. Members from our local government were in attendance as well as local bankers, business owners, school district, landlords, Belpre Citizens and Realtors. We were very pleased with the attendance. I was asked to attend tonight in the event there were any questions about the project. After the meeting I spoke with the Mayor, Mr. Locke and Mrs. Drake about using some of the CARES Funds moving forward. We are beginning Phase II of the project where we will be reaching out to a lot of the businesses and industries in your community. We want to see what is working well and what needs to be addressed as part of the plan. We are in hopes to get this wrapped up by early next year if not sooner. I will be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Hearing none we moved on to the report by the Safety-Service Director.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell announced that she had a couple of things to report. She said the Mayor always covers a lot. I have been checking into Swendlemen Insurance for new quotes for our Health Insurance. Also we have a new hand swipe installed to come in the front door. We are all trying to get used to that. I attended the Economic Development meeting on Friday. Jim was talking at that meeting about services that can be provided with COVID monies for the city which has a little bit to do with Economic Development. Mrs. Hoblitzell asked Jim to expand a little bit on the COVID monies. Mr. Lenner stated that he overheard Connie talking about using COVID dollars for some of the ideas we were discussing on Friday. OMEGA in the Cambrige/Zanesville area is looking into having a COVID Recovery Coordinator that will be able to help local communities with the Cares Act Funds. With this we will have a list of things they want this Recovery Coordinator to do. We want the coordinator to help communities utilize the funds as well. We are all under a time restraint to get the funds spent or encumbered. We want to be able to help out with any of those activities. Also Mrs. Hoblitzell announced that Drag Strip road opened Friday afternoon. Thanks to Bob Lane and Roger Wright for all their help.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that the first report for the Coronavirus Relief Fund was due. Ours was filed in a timely manner. Everything was accounted for. Our budget, expenses and revenue all balanced. Our first report is done and we will have another one in December.
City Law Director Mr. Webster reported that he met today with the Mayor, Safety-Service Director, and Denzil to discuss the meter at the west end of the city. The problem is still involving odor from the County line and how to resolve those problems as well as trying to address the issues of whether we have to discuss with the county an increase capacity at that end of the city, so we can take the amount of sewage we are receiving. The original contract in 2009 stated that the limit was 6 million gallons of sewage per month. Last month we hit 6.4 million so we will have to approach the county as to how we are going to handle the situation as well as the odor problems. The County is aware of the problem. I will be talking to the Prosecuting Attorney about these issues.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland had no report.
Communications and Petitions:
Ms. Riffle assigned to Finance/Audit Committee the following: A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPALACHIA REGIONAL COMMISSION/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPALACHIA PROGRAM(S) AND TO EXECUTE CONTRACTS AS REQUIRED. Ms. Riffle stated that this has to do with the west end water project.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee announced that his committee met on October 19 and October 26th at 6:30 PM to review the 2021 Annual Appropriations. We may want to consider that as the TEMPORARY APPROPRIATIONS. This has always been a temporary before the Permanent Appropriations. This will be a call by our law director. All questions have been answered up to this point. This piece of legislation appears on the agenda this evening for first reading. I would like to make a motion to by-pass committee for the first reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. I would like to say something about the sewer line at the west end of town. When we started this ten years ago 6 million gallons didn’t seem like it would have much impact on our sewer system. As we move forward with a new school, added homes on a daily bases new businesses popping up as well that line can’t handle much more. It doesn’t seem like the City of Marietta has much concern for our being at the end of the line. I think it would be nice to get the County Commissioners involved to make effort to build or change. Our sewer system is not going to be able to handle much more. I think it is going to be a serious problem for us in the future.
Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that the ARC that is on the agenda is only the first leg. This is for the water upgrade from the hospital to Rockland Ridge Rest Home.
Mr. Ferguson stated that what Mr. Webster was talking about in reference to our west end sewer system, the valve and meter is more what I’m referencing. It seems to be more of a topic of conversation every time we meet. It seems to be growing every day. When school is in session out there the high school is being used. K-12 is being used and we are at the end of the line. We never dreamed of it growing like this. I would just like it to go on record that after 6 million gallons we shut the line. I was just making a statement.
Mrs. Miller stated that she had mentioned in one of the other meetings that she heard from a reliable source that when they passed the levy at Warren there was money stipulated in that levy to take care of the sewer problems that was going to affect us. I don’t know if anyone has checked into this or not. The Mayor had said he was going to check into it. If there is money available I think we need to check into it. It was from one of the County Commissioners.
Mr. Webster was asked if he knew anything about this. He stated no! Mr. Webster stated that the language of the levy would have had to be submitted to the Board of Elections. It may not cover all the line items to be considered for the money involved. We may have to get the information from another source to review.
Mrs. Miller stated just don’t lay it aside. We need to know.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee reported that he just got the Nuisance Ordinance for the City of Belpre. I would like to call a committee meeting for November 9, 2020 at 7PM. Copies have been distributed to all members of council.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report. Ms. Riffle stated that we are asking citizens to keep up with the leaves as they are a burden on our storm sewer.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee reported that on October 23, 2020 I had the opportunity to attend an “Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Belpre”. Several members from our local government were in attendance as well as local bankers, business owners, Belpre Citizens, and Realtors.
We looked at everything from utilities to recreation attempting to better our ability to bring business to Belpre, and keep what we have. Also we delved into what is holding Belpre back in these areas. It was an eye opening event. Several ‘New” Belpre Citizens were in attendance. They presented a different perspective than ‘us’ older residents have.
I believe many things we discussed are able to be remedied, some with little effort or costs, others will require more involvement from our residents and we will incur some costs.
Belpre is very different from any other regional city. We do not have a ‘Business Area’ like Marietta. Our commercial zones are inhabited with residential homes. We haven’t been proactive in ‘fixing’ this issue.
For Belpre to forge ahead we will need this help from all residents, changes will need to be made, some a little painful. Also we will need younger Belpre residents to step up and help Belpre. With this help hopefully we can make changes to our fair city more attractive to the younger crowd.
Many of us have seen our children move away to find better and more plentiful jobs. We need to stop this, make Belpre inviting to them, and others so we can grow.
As a lifelong Belpre resident, I have seen us lose business, lose respect, and just lose period. I’m tired of losing, now we need to start winning.
Many new ideas will be brought out as we progress thru 2020 and 2021. We are looking for new ideas, new businesses, and new citizens that are excited for our future. If you can help, or have ideas, please contact one of your local city council members, the Mayor, or Safety-Service Director, they will be glad to talk with you about anything to improve Belpre. A copy of my report has been sent to Kim.
Ms. Riffle asked if any future meetings have been planned. According to Mr. Locke none at this time.
Mr. Locke stated that he would make us aware of any upcoming meetings.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report
Ms. Riffle reminded council to get their reports to the clerk.
Mrs. Miller was asked about her committee assignments. She stated that she was waiting to hold the meetings in person.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only.
William Cassidy 824 Belrock Avenue, Belpre addressed the Natural Gas Aggregation for the Natural Gas operation agreement and the actual term of the contract. Mr. Webster explained the agreement. The agreement begins December 16, 2020 and goes for 1 year at a rate of 3.4 rate. Mr. Cassidy was concerned that page 9 of the agreement wasn’t filled in. According to Ms. Hoblitzell they weren’t going to go for any more years as the rate may change and we would get locked in.
There was no unfinished business.
Mr. Fergsuon brought before council for first reading A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS. Mr. Ferguson stated that this is the $400,000 Exhibit A. This includes the $295,000 for the software equipment for the Auditor’s Office. My only concern is the chances of being audited. If this isn’t approved where would we find the $295,000 to pay for it? According to Miss Pittenger the software is not a part of the $295,000. The $295,000 has to be encumbered and the Mayor, Safety-Service Director, Law Director and all of us have to decide what we want that to be. We have two months to do it. That was just one of the options that we were throwing out because it is something that we need. We also need eight laptops, eight scanners, and a camera to do ZOOM meetings. There is a lot of ways to spend this money. Obviously Mr. Lenner has ways to spend this money. The software is not a done deal. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we are only appropriating the money. The money has to be appropriated so we can use it. It is not how we are going to use. Mr. Ferguson thanked them for their point of clarification. Mr. Ferguson asked how quickly this needs to be passed. According to Miss Pittenger the fire department and other departments was needing some things and if we wait too long things may not be able to be encumbered and paid for by the end of the year. Miss Pittenger stated that Mrs. Hoblitzell will keep you informed of everything the money is spent on. Mrs. Drake stated that she thought we should do all three readings on the legislation this evening. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson stated that he would like to have a list of what $300,000 is being spent on.
Mr. Ferguson made a motion to suspend the rule of council on three different days to allow for the second and third readings of A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS. Miss Pittenger asked Mr. Ferguson why he thinks we are going to have to pay this money back. I have been to multiple meetings and Connie has been to multiple meetings. Why do you think we would spend money that we would have to pay back? Miss Pittenger and Mrs. Hoblitzell is taking that personally. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second and third readings A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2020 APPROPRIATIONS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Resolution #16, 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 ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2021. Mr. Ferguson stated that this was the Exhibit for $7,744,663.87. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council. Mr. Ferguson thanked council and the administration for making this as smooth as possible.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for first reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPALACHIA REGIONAL COMMISSION/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPALACHIA PROGRAM(S) AND TO EXECUTE CONTRACTS AS REQUIRED. This is the west end water project. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved to suspend the rule of council on three different days to allow for the second and third readings of A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPALACHIA REGIONAL COMMISSION/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPALACHIA PROGRAM(S) AND TO EXECUTE CONTRACTS AS REQUIRED. Mrs. Hoblitzell wanted everyone to know that this was in regards to some grants. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second and third readings A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPALACHIA REGIONAL COMMISSION/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPALACHIA PROGRAM(S) AND TO EXECUTE CONTRACTS AS REQUIRED. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Resolution #17, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake brought before council for first reading AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE THE PLAN OF OPERATION AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE CITY OF BELPRE NATURAL GAS AGGREGATION PROGRAM. Discussion followed regarding term of contract and cost per MCF which was 3.59 for 12 months. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake asked Mrs. Hoblitzell if this needed to go for two additional readings this evening. According to Mrs. Hoblitzell that if we wanted this to go into effect my December 16, 2020 we did need to run for all three readings.
Mrs. Drake moved to suspend the rule of council on three different days to allow for the second and third readings of AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE THE PLAN OF OPERATION AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE CITY OF BELPRE NATURAL GAS AGGREGATION PROGRAM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake brought before council for second and third readings AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE THE PLAN OF OPERATION AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE CITY OF BELPRE NATURAL GAS AGGREGATION PROGRAM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake moved this be Ordinance #10. 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Julie Richardson with the National Association of Realtors was on our ZOOM meeting this evening and was recognized by Ms. Riffle. I’m attending for a class and we do a lot of business in the City of Belpre.
Mr. Webster announced that due to COVID the Apple Butter Stir-Off was canceled in August. However apple butter was made and is for sale. Order sheets are at city hall for anyone wishing to purchase or you can contact to me and I will deliver.
Ms. Riffle announced that the Belpre Lights Committee have been working on the Christmas lights and will be working on the Carousel this Saturday for anyone wishing to help.
Mr. Ferguson made a motion to adjourn at 8:31 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.