Council President Mr. Neff called the Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Belpre, Ohio, to order at 7:30 p.m. The roll was called with the following members present: Ms. Abdella, Mr. Colvin, Mrs. Drake, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Sinnett and Mr. Turrill present. Also present were Mayor Lorentz; Safety Service Director Mr. Ferguson; City Auditor Miss Pittenger; City Law Director Mr. Webster; Treasurer Mrs. Kincaid and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith
Mr. Neff asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Neff gave the invocation.
Mrs. Marshall made a motion to accept the minutes of December 14, 2015 and January 4, 2016 as presented and by-pass the reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Neff asked for council pleasure on the two petitions we have before us this evening. The first petition is a request by property owners of 1210-1212 Washington Boulevard, Belpre, Ohio for a zoning variance on the set back regulations as per Ordinance 1149.02 (e)(2) A 1. Mrs. Miller made a motion to vote on the petitioner’s request. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Ms. Abdella made a motion to approve the petitioner’s request. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
The second petition is a request by the property owner to vacate an alley, which separates the two properties at 718 and 722 Ohio Avenue. Mrs. Miller made a motion to table this request until next meeting allowing council members time to visit the property and make their decision on the request. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson asked for a point of clarification as to whether or not these folks are obligated to attend the next meeting. According to Mr. Neff they are not under any obligation. You are certainly welcome to attend. Ms. Abdella asked for contact information.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported that on this first meeting of 2016 I want to welcome all new council members as well as thank the returning members for their service.
Over the past couple weeks Mr. Ferguson and I have met with EPA representatives, Buckeye Hills, The Port Authority and Congressman Johnson’s staff to keep our sewer project to the north alive and on someone’s radar. Joy Padgett was a huge help in facilitating this meeting for us.
We met on Friday January 8th with Dominion to explore our next step in acquiring gas supply for the hospital complex as well as other expansions slated for 2016 in this area. With all the players in the same room I feel we can resolve at least this one issue. We still have issues if construction continues in this area.
Council, you should have documentation for the Belpre Chip. This does not solidify any agreement to proceed just completes paperwork so that we could keep it open. The city has a small amount of program income available and this just maintains our account.
Council also has the agreement with ODOT to proceed with the construction at both bridges. This needs completed by our first meeting in February so to stay on schedule.
Our Police Chief, Service Director and I met with Alisha Nelson from the Governor’s Office and his drug prevention initiative Start Talking this afternoon. We are planning the next town hall meeting for March 8th at the Celebration Center.
On your desk tonight is a copy of an email you all should have received. DO NOT forget to file your Financial Disclosure Statements with the State Of Ohio. Regardless of campaign expenses, this is required.
Tonight we have a young lady that has completed her work for Silver Award in Girl Scouts. Claudia Raver is our newest Silver Award recipient. Claudia, if you would please tell us of your award, and what it consists of.
Mayor Lorentz and Miss Pittenger presented Claudia with her award. Mary Jo Slater Co-leader for the Girl Scouts explained Miss Raver’s accomplishments to earn this award.
As you know this Friday is Mr. Ferguson’s last day with us as Service Director. After 7 years and much hard work and commitment to our city and my office as Mayor, Dave has elected to retire AGAIN! My term as Mayor has been enjoyable and made so much easier knowing that someone has your back and holds the same hopes and values for our residents. All at the city building and especially by me will miss Dave.
As a last note I have hired a new Service Director who will start next week after working a notice. Ronald Cross will assume Dave’s position, office and phone number. Hopefully Ron can be here for our next meeting for all to meet. Ron has a bachelor’s degree from Clemson in Construction Science and Management. I want to wish Dave well in his next venture, as I know he has at least one more retirement left in him.
Ms. Abdella addressed the Mayor regarding the CHIP Project and the agreement with ODOT. Ms. Abdella stated that she had not received any paperwork regarding these two pieces of legislation. If she needs to have a meeting on these two projects she will need the paperwork by the next meeting of council. Also Ms. Abdella asked if our sewer line project was in jeopardy and if so, Why? Mayor Lorentz stated that three years ago we went to Columbus for an official meeting. Mayor Lorentz stated that when we came out of that meeting is was like a deposition. Per John Rowe he informed the Mayor that we would receive the money for the project. Since then grants have dried up. We will have to borrow the money to do our part. Small businesses will not be able to do their part. The total amount of the project is $3.2 million. Our portion of the project is $1 million. We will have to borrow the money for our part. Ms. Abdella requested that this be taken back to committee so that we can bring everyone up to speed on the project letting him or her know what we have done toward the project. Ms. Abdella stated that this would affect our budgeting process. Mr. Webster stated that the money was available for the $3.2 million. We can get a loan for 20 to 30 years. What is so expensive is the 7 or 8 users that are up the river. There is an ARC Grant available at $250,000.
Safety Service Director Mr. Ferguson thanked his wife Lynn for being his sounding board for the past 7 years. Mr. Ferguson thanked Claudia for all her hard work helping to make our parks more presentable. The first few weeks I was on the job as SSD we were dealing with the sewer line projects that we are talking about now –7 years later. Mr. Ferguson talked about what our police department dealt with this past weekend. On a routine check a person that said his dog was thrown out on the highway and that there was a bomb attached to him approached one of our officers. The officer had stopped to help this family that consisted of 2 adults, 8 children and a dog. The two adults were challenged. They had no valid driver’s license and they were taken to the hospital for some kind of attention. Some of the things our police officers deal with is over the top.
Mr. Ferguson congratulated the four newly elected officials to council and recognized those members returning. He wished them a good two years.
Mr. Ferguson informed council of the legislation that would need acted upon in the near future. Those items consisted of the O’Neill Center Contract, Kathy Davis Storm Water Contract. Manpower for 2016, Washington County Jail Contract for Housing Prisoners, Civitan Park Boat Ramp, Dog Warden Contract, Pool Contract was renewed on December 1, 2016, Police Contract & ASCME Union will be due this fall, sale of the cell tower on the hill, Field and Usage Proposal and the Gas and Electric Aggregation. At this time, Chris Munn and Fred Holmes, Agent and Supplier for the Gas and Electric Aggregation addressed council regarding the recertification times. Electric is due 30 days prior to April 4th and Gas, 30 days prior to May 4th, 2016. Prices will remain the same. Prices will not change. Recertification papers have been conveyed to the law director. Mr. Webster stated that the legislation is ready to go.
Mr. Ferguson addressed the Surface Notebooks. He stated that there is a Surface Jetpack Wi-Fi hotspot that someone will need to be responsible for. The access codes are on the back. This is a very good tool for the city officials. I highly recommend paper copies for anyone not having access to a computer.
Mr. Ferguson highly recommended that water and sewer rates be raised by four percent. We will need to continue to replace water lines throughout the city.
Placed on your desk is a copy of a five-year capital budget of a small city about our size.
Our police chief was able to get two Chaplains per week to be on call in the case of a tragic emergency.
Mr. Ferguson asked the President of Council to either appoint or ask for two members of council to be members of the Dependence Funds. Mr. Ferguson stated that he needed the contract back this evening with two signatures of members wishing to be on this board. If there was to be a fire and one of our members was hurt severely this fund would be used appropriately. Ms. Abdella and Mrs. Sinnett volunteered to serve on this board for the Belpre Volunteer Fire Fighters. Ms. Abdella will be the Secretary.
Last week I set in with members from the Governors Office, EPA, and the Port Authority to address the Route 7 Sewer Line Project and the Natural Gas Situation. These two projects are very important pieces of business and we defiantly don’t want to get behind on them.
I just want to say that I have had a wonderful last seven years.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that this Thursday at 11:00 am, we would have two representatives from the State Treasurer’s Office here as we roll out the Ohio Checkbook. We are the first community in Southeast Ohio to participate. You will be able to look at checks that have been written in the last 5 years. This is a great way that people can go in at look at how money is being spent. This is a very high tech industry.
Also this evening I have available the Adjustment Report that is awaiting approval. It is available both on line and copies have been placed on the table in the back of the room. Ms. Abdella made a motion to accept the Adjustment Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Neff announced that he has signed off on the bank reconciliation for December.
City Law Director Mr. Webster reported that your Criminal Case Report that involves Mayor’s Court would be made available to you at the next meeting. Next Mr. Webster used the two magic words, legislate and appropriate. In order to have multiple readings on legislation you must have three quarters of seven (six voting members of council). In the event legislation that has an emergency clause you must have two-thirds voting members, which is 5 people in order to vote. This legislation will take effect immediately upon passage by council. Mr. Webster addressed our housekeeping legislation. You may want to handle it in one evening or you may want to carry it over on three different meetings. This is something that happens every year.
Mr. Webster thanked the Auditor, Safety-Service Director and the Mayor for helping with Dave’s Retirement issues. These issues have been resolved.
I became aware of a letter involving RITA with a data breech letter. I have sent a letter to the auditor and we are working on that. We don’t believe there is any serious breech of information. I am researching this at this time. This is a process that information was destroyed. Any questions please feel free to call us.
City Council will be responsible for putting together the appropriations for the budget. Ms. Abdella will be hounding you about this in the near future. You will have to decide how budgeting is done within our city. It is a complicated process that is timely. You will have to look each item by lines.
I have contacted four different municipalities regarding purchase order policies and how it affects us. I will review the policies and see if we need to make changes as to how we are doing things. I will have a report at the next council meeting regarding this topic.
There are other pieces of legislation ready for council. I will make sure that Mr. Neff gets them.
At this time, there is no pending litigation.
City Treasurer Mrs. Kincaid stated that her report has been made available on line, copies are on the back table and a signed copy has been made available to the clerk. Ms. Abdella 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:
Mr. Neff assigned the following items to committee:
Ms. Abdella, Finance/Audit Committee – Storm Water Contract, Dog Warden Contract, and CHIP Project, Also assigned was A RESOLUTION TO ADOPT & APPROVE FOR USE BY THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO, and A HOUSING REVOLVING LOAN FUND ADMINISTRATION AGREEMENT WITH THE OHIO DEVELOPMENT SERVICES AGENCY.
Mrs. Miller, Police and Fire Committee – Jail Contract
Mrs. Marshall, Utilities Committee – Sale of the Cell Tower and the Gas & Electric Aggregation.
Mrs. Sinnett, Parks and Recreation Committee – Agreement with Civitan Park and the Blennerhassett Island Boat Ramp. The Pool Contract was approved in December however there may be a change in rates.
Report of Standing Committee:
Ms. Abdella reported that the Finance Audit Committee met prior to this evenings meeting to discuss the O’Neill Center Contract. This piece of legislation does appear on tonight’s agenda for first reading. The Mayor has agreed to have the director or someone from the O’Neill Center to give us an update of last year’s activity. I would like to call a Finance Audit Committee to meet after Dave’s Retirement Dinner at 2:30 PM to discuss the General Fund. I would like to have the Auditor, Safety-Service Director and the Mayor present at that meeting. I would also like to call a Finance/Audit Committee meeting for January 25th, 2016 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of discussing the Storm Water Contract, The CHIP Project, and Manpower for 2016 and the appropriations. This will be to bring everyone up to speed that isn’t able to attend the meeting on Friday. Ms. Abdella thanked the Girl Scouts for all they do for our city and thanked Mr. Ferguson for everything he taught her during his time in office.
Mrs. Miller had no report for the Police and Fire Committee. I will be calling a meeting with Police and Fire to see what there expectations are from us. Mrs. Miller extended her appreciation to Mr. Ferguson for his service to the City of Belpre.
Mr. Colvin, Streets, Sidewalk and Storm Sewer stated that there were a couple of issues that were brought to his attention once he got to the meeting this evening. He stated that a couple of calls came through to one of our council members regarding a No Parking Sign on one side of 4th and Walnut Street. Mr. Ferguson stated that it was on 4th and Elm Street. This was due to safety issues. Buses weren’t able to make the turn from Elm to Walnut. Also our fire trucks would not be able to make it down that street. This had been brought to our attention per Mr. Ferguson. Mrs. Marshall stated that the church was upset because they couldn’t use their handicap ramp.
Mrs. Marshall, Utilities Committee called a meeting for January 25th, 2016 at 7:15 PM to discuss the preliminary approach on both bridges. Mrs. Marshall also stated that it was nice working with Dave.
Mrs. Sinnett, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mrs. Sinnett congratulated Dave on his retirement.
Mrs. Drake had no report for Planning and Zoning Committee.
Mrs. Drake had no report for Economic Development Committee. Mrs. Drake told Mr. Ferguson that it has been a pleasure working with him on different projects.
Mr. Turrill, Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Unfinished Business: None
Ms. Abdella brought before council for first reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF THE BELPRE SENIOR CENTER. 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:
Mr. Neff encouraged each of you to call committee meetings on legislation assigned to you. You can table legislation or you can simply by-pass committee. Each member will receive a copy of the way in which to present legislation.
Mrs. Sinnett made a motion to adjourn at 8:55PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.