Council President Mr. Martin called the November 23, 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 Law Director Mr. Webster, City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith.  Absent from the November 23, 2020 meeting was City Auditor Miss Pittenger.

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 Mrs. Drake to by-pass the reading of the November 9th, 2020 minutes and accept as presented.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Reports of City Officials:

Mayor Lorentz announced November 14 was Poppy Day in the City of Belpre. I provided a Proclamation for the event and purchased the first Poppy. Thank You American Legion Auxiliary.

November 13th was my annual Mayor’s court Training for the 2021 year. After 8 hours on the computer I believe it easier to travel to Columbus and sit in class. A class is offered in January 2022 if our Council president is interested.

The S.S.D and I met via Zoom with the ODOT folks to discuss the Urban Paving schedule for our city. As it stands at this point, we will revamp Washington Boulevard in 2022. Prior to paving we have a lot of drains to repair, clean etc. There is a few dozen curb ramps that also need installed. ODOT will also be in town this fall to do Core samples in strategic spots to assure we use the correct repair methods.

Our Health Board met on Friday here at city hall. Much of the conversation was around the virus and our response to any issues.

Friday night was the first Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. The Belpre Woman’s Club adopted the large pine at our Gazebo for the event. The city is blessed with organizations like this working very hard to make Belpre what it is. Thank You to all our Civic Organizations. It is unfortunate that some feel compelled to criticize their efforts with horrible comments on social media. My advice to them is try volunteering, so much more rewarding than complaining.

The BIP Railroad is bringing the Christmas Train to Belpre. The SSD and I looked for a safe place for the train to stop and chose Depot Park. The folks with BIP asked that all who visits bring a non-perishable food item for the local food pantry. Watch for the flyers around town.

The S.S.D. and I are continuing to work with the Civil Service Board in preparation of a January/ February test being given. We conducted interviews for the two openings that are now needing filled.

Mrs. Drake asked what the BIP stands for.  Mayor Lorentz stated that it stands for Belpre Industrial Parkersburg.

Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell announced the following:  The water tanks were inspected on November 9 & 10.  We have not yet received the reports on these tanks yet.  I will share with council when we get them.

I met with Poynter’s about the echo sound in council chambers.  They have ordered additional equipment to try and get rid of that echo.

New emails have been given to the employees.  I sent an email to all council members and staff with our new email addresses.  I am happy because they all end with cityofbelpre.com.  Some of us had lumos.net, some cityofbelpre.com, some wirefire.net, some gmail.com and some Hotmail.com.  Now they are all uniform.

I am negotiating rates for the natural gas aggregation.  Trying to decide if we want to commit for 1, 2 or 3 years.  The rates are:

  • 12 months@ $3.14 per MCF
  • 24 months@ $3.12 per MCF
  • 36 months@ $3.05 per MCF

 Mrs. Hoblitzell asked for council’s opinion.

Mrs. Miller stated that it would go up.

Ms. Riffle stated that she thought we were just going for 1 year and we would go from there.

Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that if we go for 36 months you always can opt. out if we they can get a lower rate.

Mrs. Drake stated that she thought 36 months.  Mrs. Drake also stated that she received a letter today from Dominion and they are joining with IGS Energy.  Mrs. Hoblitzell asked what they offered.  Mrs. Drake stated that it didn’t give the figures. Mrs. Drake didn’t call and check it.  Mrs. Hoblitzell asked Mrs. Drake to call and get the figures and perhaps we can re-negotiate the rates with AEP.

Mr. Gant – 36 months

Mr. Ferguson – 36 months

Mr. Martin asked Mrs. Hoblitzell if she wanted to negotiate every year.  She said she did not.  Mr. Martin stated that we are at a historical low rate now.

Mr. Locke – 36 months

Mr. Shutts – 36 months

Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she would go with 36 months.

Met with Burgess and Niple to further discuss the water project on the West Side.

I talked with a gentleman from Dominion and he said that they should finish up with all tie in the first week of December.  Hopefully all the gas line stuff will be finished.

I want to remind everyone that the State Route 7 overpass will be closed going both directions from December 7, 2020 to December 18, 2020.

City Auditor Miss Pittenger had no report as she was absent from the meeting.  Mrs. Copeland had no report for the Auditor’s Office.

City Law Director Mr. Webster announced that they are continuing the negotiation of our pending legislation in the Federal District Court. There was a demand made by the plaintiff.  I will advise if that case is going to be settled.  We have discussed a settlement.  I believe we are going to settle.

Also I attend all the Marietta/Belpre Health Board meetings.  We did have a meeting last Friday. We discussed the status of COVID in the county.  The Ohio Directors issued an order on the 13th of November in regards to retail outlets, other retail stores. A copy of the order has been given to the police department and Mrs. Hoblitzell. I have requested on line their three accepted sections involving gyms, beauty salons and those retail stores.  I hope we have a set of guidelines on how those exceptions work.  There is a set of guidelines on the website to contact the Ohio Department of Health with any retail operation complaints.

City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that a copy of the October’s Treasurers Report is on line and needs council approval.  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 thanked Ms. Riffle for filling in for him in his absence.

President of Council Mr. Martin stated that December 28th, 2020 is the last meeting in December.  Providing all work is completed Mr. Martin asked what the pleasure was of council.  Mrs. Drake made a motion to cancel the December 28, 2020 meeting.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Motion passed.

Mr. Martin stated that all business needed to be completed by December 14th, 2020.

Also due to COVID, Mayor Lorentz announced that Student Government Day would be postponed until the spring or before school is out.

Report of Standing Committee: 

Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee reported that his committee met November 23rd, 2020 at 7:00PM for the purpose of discussing Capping City Employee Expenses and hiring for a temporary seasonal position at the park.  It was decided that the amount they would make depends on their experience.  It would be anywhere from $12 to $15 dollars an hour. It was also decided that the expenses for capping employee expenses would be $10 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $20 for supper.  Employees must provide receipts for all expenses per trip.  Tips or gratuity is not included.  Mr. Ferguson informed Mr. Webster that he would need legislation for Capping City Employee Expenses.  Mr. Webster stated that the legislation would be available for the December 14th, 2020 meeting.  He also instructed the clerk to add to the December 14, 2020 agenda.

Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee had no report.

Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.  Ms. Riffle did thank the street department for the progress of painting lines on Washington Boulevard.

Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee announced that she would like backwater valve and placing antenna on top of water tower carried over until 2021 on her list of committee assignments.

Mrs. Hoblitzell also announced that Shannon McCullough would be present sometime in January for Electric Aggregation sign-ups and February for Gas Aggregation sign-ups.  The sign-ups are forthcoming and would be held outside.  Also sign-ups will be announced on Facebook, in the newspaper and on the cities website.

Mrs. Drake announced that she has a guest Allie Terrell with us this evening to discuss infrastructure throughout the State.  She working with Marietta.  Mrs. Drake asked if she could speak now or later in the meeting.  Mr. Martin asked if she would care to address council once the reports have been completed.

Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report.  Mr. Shutts asked about unfinished business for the year that was on his list of committee assignments.  Mr. Martin to go over committee assignments before the end of the year.

Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.

Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee reported that his committee met on November 23, 2020 at 6:15 PM. for the purpose of discussing Burton Planning.  Mr. Locke stated that it was a wide range plan and very involved.  With a lot of effort from all of us I think we can make it work.  We need to discuss how to pay for it, what we are wanting, when we want to do it, etc.  I would like to call an Economic Development meeting for November 30, 2020 at 6:30 PM to further the discussion.  Mr. Lenner will be present for the meeting.

Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report.  Mrs. Miller stated that she isn’t planning on doing anything the rest of this year on her committee assignments.  She stated that changing the times of the meeting had already been discussed.  We ran into problems with persons not being able to attend the meeting.  Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that her committee assignment was not just about time of meetings but the whole section needed to be addressed.

Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only.  None

Unfinished Business:

Mr. Ferguson brought before council for third reading ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2021. Ms. Riffle stated that she didn’t get to review Exhibit A as she wasn’t able to open.  She asked Mr. Ferguson if it was accurate.  Mr. Webster stated that changes had been made.  According to Mr. Ferguson it is accurate and reflects the total amount of $7,745,938.87. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Ferguson moved this be Ordinance #11, 2020-2021 and duly passed.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2021.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.  This will lie over until the next meeting of council.

NEW BUSINESS:

Allie Terrell, Representative with HomeServe, addressed council regarding Water and Wastewater Infrastructure.  Our systems are aging.  Some of the lines needing replaced are 60 years or older.  This is basically an insurance that helps pay for broken water or sewer lines.  There is some Federal Funding available.  Public Private Partnerships moves you up on the list as far as being considered.  This insurance is for ServeLine, Water Leak protection for customers.  The cost per residents would be $1 to $2 per month for leak protection. The service lines are $6 – $7 dollars for water and $7 to $8 dollars for sewer.  Every city is different.

More information can be shared.  Infrastructure is a big deal.

Ms. Riffle asked if the city has to be partners for protection.  She was informed yes you do by Ms. Terrell.

Mrs. Hoblitzell suggested that we call a committee meeting and invite Lisa Rankin so we can find out what it would entail and what the cities responsibility would be in that.

Mrs. Drake informed council that she would call a committee meeting after the first of the year.

Mr. Martin asked that Ms. Terrell send information to Mrs. Drake or Mrs. Hoblitzell in a pdf. file so it can be distributed to all of council.

Mr. Gant asked if this was government or private insurance.  According to Ms. Terrell it is private insurance.

Mr. Martin asked Mr. Webster if committee assignments can be carried over from one year to the next on the committee referral assignments.  According to Mr. Webster they can be carried over as long as it is within the term for which you were elected.

PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL: 

Jess Wonycott 805 Main Street asked if the city accepts that insurance policy does that mean that the city won’t forgive that one leak.  You have to buy the insurance.  The answer is no.  Mr.  Martin stated that he doesn’t think there is a commitment however we need to discuss before we give incorrect information.

Ms. Riffle asked Mrs. Hoblitzell about the inspections on the water tower.  Is that our company or is it the company that AT&T was going to contract with.  It is the company we contract with.  Have you heard from AT&T?  According to Mrs. Hoblitzell she is waiting on the law director to approve the agreement that was sent to us.

Ms. Riffle asked if we have received any EMS bids.  Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we have not.  It has not yet made it into the paper. Bids are not due until mid-February.  We won’t get any quotes until the deadline day.

Ms. Riffle asked if the Dominion work on Rockland was going to tie in near her house.  She was informed that yes it was.

Ms. Riffle asked Mr. Gant if he was going to call another meeting on the Nuisance Ordinance.  According to Mr. Gant he is going to wait and call another committee meeting after the first of the year.  I’m waiting for Mr. Webster to change one thing on the ordinance.  There is some confusion on the ordinance.

Mr. Shutts addressed issues from residents on Boulevard Sands regarding trains putting out pollution.  Are they putting in new track?  Is that going to be a holding area for loading cars?  Mayor Lorentz stated that he has contacted PUCO.  They have not contacted me back. Per the Mayor most of the complaints were in reference to speed.  I have asked that the speed be lowered.  Mr. Shutts asked if they are going to use it for a holding area for storage.  Mayor Lorentz stated that yes it is.

Mr. Gant stated that they are making a switch chart for opening up cars, kicking cars, shoving cars ahead and releasing break while trains back up.  This is what is causing pollution.  The speed of the train is what was put in when they were travelling from our area to Cincinnati.  The citizens are upset.  They are also looking to get a lawyer to file suit.

Mr. Webster stated that there is a reason there is a Federal agency.  There is a rail commission in the State of Ohio.  Federal rules can be controlled beyond State and Local rules.  You have to be careful of what authority we have as a city.  We have a right to complain about the operation of the rail but we can’t do any enforcement proceedings.  If the crossing are blocked for an excessive period of time they can be fined for that.  I’m not sure we can control where they put the signing.  These are all Federal and State controlled.

ADJOURN: 

Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:44 PM.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.