The Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Belpre, Ohio was called to order by Council President Mr. Lopreste at 7:30 p.m. with Mr. Lopreste welcoming everyone to this evening’s meeting. The roll was called with the following members present: Mr. Hunt, Ms. Abdella; Mr. Wright, Mrs. Marshall; Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Martin; Mr. Wolf, Mr. Newberry; Miss Shutts, Mr. Robinson; Miss Bass, Mr. Sinnett; Mr. Stines, and Mr. Wallace present. Also present were Student Government Day Mayor Johnson, Mayor Lorentz; Student Government Day Safety-Service Director Miss. Bowen, Mr. Ferguson; Student Government Day City Auditor Miss. Crites, Miss Pittenger, Student Government Day City Law Director/City Prosecutor Miss. Cleland, Mr. Webster, Student Government Day Treasurer Mr. Petty, Mr. McAfee and Student Government Day Clerk of Council Miss Bennet, Mrs. Meredith..
At this time, Mr. Lopreste asked that everyone please stand for the prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. The invocation was given by Mayor Johnson.
A motion was made by Miss Bass, Mr. Sinnett to accept the minutes of November 25, 2013 as presented and by-pass the reading. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Reports of City Officials
Mayor Lorentz’s Report:
Mayor Johnson presented the Mayor’s Report prepared by Mayor Lorentz. The report is as follows: On your desk tonight I placed a notice from Dominion Gas stating a rate increase and service increase. Along with that you will notice a statement that Dominion will retain ownership of your lines from curb to meter service. Over 16,000 feet of new gas lines will be installed in Belpre.
AEP will also continue with pole replacements and obsolete pole and line removal throughout 2014.
2013 brought completion of our Safe Routes to Schools Grant with 3200 feet of new sidewalks on Rockland Ave. The opening of Marietta Memorials 2nd building and groundbreaking for the 3rd is now ongoing. Farson Street construction is complete and working very well with the added turn lane.
Our Sr. Center Addition is complete, and the Historical Society is starting their expansion.
Electric and Gas Aggregation has been approved and offered to our residents.
The city has hired six new people in 2013 due to retirements, departures or transfers.
Council has approved during the 2013 year, monies to refurbish two dump trucks, new playground equipment for Howe’s GrovePark, a new Arm Tractor for our street department, and two new police cruisers to better equip our young officers. Both union contracts are complete for three years.
Belpre Chamber along with city officials welcomed many new Doctors, the Lark’s Nest, Smitty’s Pizza and now Advance Auto as new businesses.
Council we did receive the estimate for Drag Strip repairs. Please know that this will be complete this month and requires the roadway to be closed during work hours.
Council, please remember it is United Way Pledge time. If you like we can do payroll deduction for you through the Auditor’s Office. At one point or another we have all benefited from this wonderful organization.
Mr. Ferguson, Ms Pittenger and I met with The Kimble Co. reps this past week to discuss the option of curb side recycling. This may very well be a benefit we could provide our residents while helping the environment. Tonight we have with us Oscar the Grouch and associate Amy Treciak to explain the program and answer any questions you may have.
At this time I would thank Mr. Wallace, Mr. Sinnett, and Mr. McAfee for their service to our city, and wish them well in future endeavors.
Safety Service Director Miss Bowen presented the following report that was prepared by Safety-Service Director Mr. Ferguson. The report is as follows: Mr. Ferguson would like to thank all the students for an excellent day. One or more of these students very possibly will be filling these positions for real in the future.
Tonight the Civil Service Commission is testing 23 individuals for positions employment as a Dispatcher and/or Police Officer.
The City has received the new police cruiser that was ordered several months ago. It is currently being marked and having radios installed. It should be ready for service later this week.
Mr. Ferguson and I would like to thank the Police Department and especially the Street Department for their work this weekend. Their work does make a big difference in the condition of the roads during winter storms such as we had over the weekend.
Mr. Ferguson and I would also like to thank Mr. Wallace; Mr. Sinnett, and Mr. McAfee for their years of service to the City of Belpre.
And, in addition we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Special Happy New Year!
City Auditor Miss Crites presented the Auditor’s Report that was prepared by Miss Pittenger. The report is as follows: Before you this evening is the Utilities Adjustment Report, dated 12/03/2013. At this time, Miss Crites made a motion to accept the Adjustment Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. There have now been 12 Utility reports presented and approved by City Council.
A resolution opposing the State of Ohio taking over collection of Municipal income tax was passed.
The 2013 Annual appropriations and 3 supplemental appropriations were passed.
FEMA funds from the 2012 Derecho were received and credited to the proper departments and line items following the federal guidelines received.
Utility bill format was updated and implemented during May.
The Auditor’s office received the Ohio Auditor of State Award for exemplary financial reporting for the year 2012.
Refunds were received and credited from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp and the Regional Income Tax Agency totaling $25,800.00.
15 tax payers were issued Warrants – approximately half were served this year with the rest still pending.
I attended the Ohio Municipal league annual meeting in ColumbusOhio in November.
City Law Director/City Prosecutor Miss Cleland had no report.
Treasurer Mr. Petty presented the Treasurer’s Report that was prepared by Mr. McAfee. A copy of the November’s Treasurer’s Report is before you this evening and is awaiting council action. At this time, Mr. Stines 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
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Hunt, Ms. Abdella; Finance Audit Committee had no report.
Mr. Stines, Mr. Wallace; Police and Fire Committee reported that the Belpre Police Department was originally established following the Spanish-American War in the mid 1890’s. The Chief of Police during the early 1900’s also acted as the Public Works Director, overseeing the construction of roadways, installation and expansion of water, gas and electric services, as well as the enforcement of law.
The Belpre Police Department currently has fifteen employees. The breakdown of employee positions are: (1) Chief of Police, (3) Police Sergeants, (6) Police Patrolman, (4) 911 Dispatchers and (1) Clerk of Court.
2013 Statistics shows that there were 1,500 arrests made. Approximately 200 of these have been felony arrests, 1,100 traffic citations have been processed on violations with the City of Belpre. Officers and Staff have worked 33,000 hours during this time period.
The Belpre Police Department has responded to over 15,000 calls during 2013, having initiated and investigated over 500 reports. Approximately 200 auto collisions have been reported and investigated in the City of Belpre Police Department.
The Belpre Police Department has removed nearly $1,000,000 in illegal drugs and narcotics from the City of Belpre during 2013.
Miss Bass, Mr. Sinnett had no report for Streets, Sidewalks & Storm Sewer Committee.
Miss Shutts, Mr. Robinson had no report for the Utilities Committee.
Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Martin, Parks and Recreation Committee reported that the decorations that we see around the city have been made available by donations.
Mr. Wright, Mrs. Marshall, Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Wright, Mrs. Marshall, Economic Development Committee had no report.
Mr. Wolf presented the Rules Committee report that was prepared by Mr. Newberry. The report is as follows: I would first like to report that on October 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM my committee met to discuss the paying of Local Income Tax through R.I.T.A. (Regional Income Tax Agency). Prior to this date there had been some questions concerning this matter at one of our recent City Council meetings, primarily regarding paying yearly verses quarterly. R.I.T.A. requires payment quarterly if the city in question has language in its Ordinance stipulating quarterly payment. The City of Belpre has language in its Ordinance 15, 76-77 that states quarterly payment, found in 181.07 paragraphs (d). After a good bit of discussion it was the consensus of council to not change our Local Ordinance and continue to pay Local Income Tax quarterly.
As a member of the Police and fire committee, I would like to say that I am confident that the legislation which was passed before the November 1st deadline in regards to the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department will benefit our Community and its citizens. Resolution 34, 2012-2013, Ordinance 29, 2012-2013, Resolution 35, 2012-2013 and Ordinance 30, 2012-2013 all passed on 10/28/2013.
Finally, I would like to mention that I am waiting for the Ohio Supreme Courts decision in regards to Fracking and the case of Monroe Falls, Ohio, an Akron suburb of 5000. It involves a well that Beck Energy Corp. began to drill with the States permission on private property in this city in 2011. This closely watched lawsuit in Ohio could have a lot of influence on whether local cities can regulate local laws in regards to Fracking.
Perhaps after this Ruling, as a city council and as a committee we can have more insight into which direction we can move towards in regards to Fracking.
This concludes my report this evening. Thank you Mr. President.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Mr. Hunt/Ms. Abdella brought before council for third reading TEMPORARY APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2014. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Hunt/Ms. Abdella moved this be Ordinance 31, 2012-2013 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Also recognized were the Student Government Day Fire Chief, Police Chief and City Prosecutor. Students toured Station 1, the police department along with the police dispatch and Mayor’s Court.
Persons Appearing Before Council:
Chris Palmer, Government Teacher at BelpreHigh School extended his appreciation to council for giving the students the opportunity to take part in Student Government Day. Mr. Palmer thought the students did an outstanding job and he stated that he was proud to be their teacher.
Susie Casto gave a brief report on the expansion to the SeniorCenter. We were able to host the students, the Chambers and the Administration today for lunch. I would like to thank you all for your support and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Mayor Lorentz spoke briefly about the day. Mayor Lorentz thanked the Rotary Club for the lunch they had for everyone today.
All members of council thanked the students for the great job they did this evening.
At this time everyone was reminded that the regular scheduled meeting for December 23, 2013 has been cancelled.
The swearing in ceremony will be held on New Year’s Day at 10 AM in Belpre City Council Chambers.
Miss Shutts, Mr. Robinson made a motion to adjourn at 8:00PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Will Neff, President of Council Kimberly S. Meredith, Clerk of Council