Mr. Neff called the Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Belpre, Ohio, to order at 7:30p.m. The roll was called with the following members present: Ms. Abdella, Mr. Campbell, Mrs. Drake, Mr. Gant, Mrs. Miller, Ms. Riffle and Mr. Shutts present. Also present was Mayor Lorentz, Safety-Service Director Mr. Cross, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, Treasurer Mr. Smith and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith.
Mr. Neff asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Lorentz gave the invocation.
Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the minutes of January 22, 2018 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 reported that on January 27th I attended the annual Sr. luncheon provided by the Lion’s Club. They had about 100 in attendance at Rockland Church.
The Economic Development Team continues to work with the administration to assist small business growth. A portion of this group met in Marietta with people wanting to purchase property in Belpre. As we learn more I will communicate with council. Bob Rauch and I were interviewed by the paper for our take on the Voinovich study and our next step.
Mr. Cross and I have spent much time on the budget issues and continue to meet with department heads for input. The initial testing for the Police Department produced 5 candidates for our opening. We also got word that another officer is contemplating moving from the area soon.
Tomorrow Night at 5PM is a Street Smart Presentation at Mullen Baptist Church. If you have not seen this it is worthwhile.
Much of the time I have been out of the office for family illness so if you have tried to contact me and failed this is why.
Tonight Chief Williams is with us and has a couple recognitions to present. Chief Williams also has his report to council.
Chief Williams began his report by recognizing two officers for their heroic actions on January 17, 2018. Dispatch was advised of a possible fire near Middle Street. Officers Sgt. Tyler Heddleston and Ptl. Jesse Whittington responded to the scene and found there was in fact a structure fire at 516 Middle Street (which is technically outside the city limits). Sgt. Heddleston beat on all the doors and windows of the residence. As he was getting ready to kick in the front door as he believed people to be inside the residence, Mr. Logston opened the door with a .44 mag pistol. Sgt. Heddleston advised him of the fire and that they needed to get out of the house. Ptl. Whittington arrived and assisted Mrs. Logston out of the residence.
After talking with the officers and Fire Chief Tony Cronin – it is believed that these officers saved the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Logston from possible smoke inhalation.
Chief Tony Cronin stated that by the time he got to the scene Sgt. Heddleston had his work done for him.
Sgt. Heddleston recognized the fine work of the fire department.
Next Chief Williams gave his 2017 Year End Report for City Council.
Below is a list of items that Chief Williams was asked to cover for the City Council.
- NUMBER OF CALLS HANDLED BY THE DEPARTMENT.
- AMOUNT OF DRUG ARRESTS
- SPECIFIC ITEMS THAT NEED ADDRESSED OR THEIR OWN LINE ITEM IN THE BUDGET
- WHY WE NEED THE OFFICER THAT WE JUST HAVEN’T HIRED YET (NOT AN EXTRA OFFICER).
The Belpre Police Department had a total of 8,035 calls for service for 2017. A breakdown of those for 2017 was 6,256 for police, 157 for fire, 1,425 for EMS, and 197 for Sewer and Water.
Among the calls for service that the Police Department handled are: 9 fights, 84 Domestic Violence Calls, 41 suicide calls, 10 people with a gun, 562 suspicious persons, 1 robbery, 13 breaking and entering, 207 accidents, 47 911 hang up calls, 329 disorderly persons/motorists, 77 intoxicated driver/persons, 1 stabbing, 18 missing persons, 2 lost children, 268 theft, 15 assaults, 217 alarm calls, 6 shooting, 95 drug, 15 burglary, 17 stolen vehicles, 47 mental and 24 overdoses.
We also responded to the hospital 171 times with disorderly/mental people.
We had 280 drug arrests this year which is way up from 2016 (does not count felony charges as items have to be sent to the lab for results before charges are pressed in some cases. Since we have had the K-9 we have had 50 misdemeanor and several felony drug arrest with more pending in just the last 5 weeks of the year.
There was a total of 1,582 total arrests for 2017, 1,463 in 2016 and 1,131 in 2015.
A few things that I noticed we need a separate line item for are the following:
- Drug Testing – This is the biggest. We spend about $3,000 a year for testing of urine and testing kits for urine. This is due to all of the impaired drivers because of drugs now. This as of now has been coming out of our law enforcement expenditures line item. This can be fixed. I’ve suggested that the court charge the defendant for the cost of the urine test if found guilty and that money would go back into the line item account. This can be done.
- I like to purchase small items to pass out to our youth and elderly. I try my best to get as many free items as I can, but I also have to purchase items when I have the money. Again this comes out of law enforcement expenditures or small equipment. I believe this helps the community stay in touch with our officers in a good way; it’s been working.
Lastly, “Why we need our other Officer”? The myth going around is that this is an extra officer; it is not. It is an officer that we have been short. When we hire this officer, it will put us back to where we were 25 years ago. As you can see from the stats above the amount of calls we handle, the types of calls we handle, this officer is essential to the department and city. The violent crimes and type of calls, dealing with mental, domestic violence, fights, people with guns, home invasions, robberies, suspicious people and all calls we need more than one officer on for their safety and the citizens as well.
I know the question has been brought up if we have been short an officer and have made it work, why do we need to fill the position? This is simple. We could have filled the position but we (Mayor, SSD, My officers, and myself) could not in good faith hire any of the candidates that we received after doing their interviews, background checks, polygraphs, psychological. We have not had a lot of candidates due to several reasons: (pay scale, location, not paying for the academy like other departments, other departments hire from the same pool as we do and can offer more. The ones we did have, had lots of baggage in their backgrounds, did not do well on their polygraphs, and or their psychological. We as administration and officers did not want to just hire to hire, but want to make sure we get the best for the city and department. My guys/your officers feel the same way.
There is a new class starting up at the academy and we hope to get a great candidate for our city.
Questions came up regarding charging the defendants for urine testing.
Safety-Service Director Mr. Cross reported that the Drag strip Road Project was going very well. Most of the rock is in place in the back. Hopefully the road excavation will begin sometime this week.
Miss Pittenger announced that our new treasurer, Mr. Smith has been doing some research on Star Ohio accounts for our funds that are placed in an account to earn interest. He found that they pay an interest rate of 1.47% up to 2.5 million dollars invested.
Today I started the paperwork to open an account and transfer 1.5 million dollars to a Star Ohio account. If we need money for half a million dollars we can write the check and they will send the money.
Miss Pittenger asked that the minutes reflect the opening of the Star Ohio and Star Ohio Plus account for the City of Belpre effective 2/13/2018.
The Adjustment Report for January 2018 is available this evening both online and on the back table. I would like for council to approve the Adjustment Report this evening. Ms. Abdella made a motion to approve the Adjustment Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Neff announced that he signed off on the bank reconciliation.
City Law Director Mr. Webster spoke in regards to the Prisoner Contract. The contract came in and I have reviewed it and I would like to meet with Ms. Abdella and Mrs. Miller after the meeting this evening to inform them of what I’m going to do. I’m going to make some proposed changes. This will need to go for all three readings at the next meeting of council as it must be effective by April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019.
City Treasurer Mr. Smith reported that a copy of the Treasurer’s Report for January 2018 appear on-line with copies placed on the table in the back. Also a signed copy has been given to the clerk. Mr. Smith stated that he would like council to approve the January Treasurer’s Report as presented. Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Communications and Petitions:
Mr. Neff assigned the following to committee:
Finance/Audit committee – Purchasing Program and Registered Sanitarian Services.
Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer – Resurfacing Project of SR 32/Main Street.
Report of Standing Committee:
Ms. Abdella Finance Audit Committee reported that the Finance committee met on February 8, 2018 at 6PM to continue working on the permanent appropriations for 2018. This meeting was very productive. There was a lot of conversation regarding Fund 218 and the structure of it. This fund is our new EMS fund. There will be another meeting held on February 15, 2018 at 6PM to continue the appropriation process and the Registered Sanitarian Services.
Ms. Abdella reported that she had received a call regarding parking near the trailer park on the lower end of Blennerhassett Avenue. Cars not being moved. Storage building on wheels, cars blocking driveways, etc.
Ms. Abdella asked if there is any interest in revitalizing the Park Commission. Mayor Lorentz stated that he thought this was the year they do that. Ms. Abdella has a person interested in the position.
Mrs. Miller, Police and Fire Committee called a committee meeting for February 20, 2018 at 6Pm for the purpose of false alarms, repeat calls, Drones – Federal Regulations – Licensed FAA, parking violations in fire lanes and the Prisoners Contract.
Mr. Campbell, Streets, Sidewalk and Storm Sewer had no report. Mr. Campbell called a committee meeting for February 26, 2018 at 7PM for the purpose of discussing a Resurfacing Project of SR 32/Main Street.
Mr. Gant Utilities Committee reported that on January 23, 2018 he took a tour of the waste treatment plant. Denzil Ray was the one that provided the tour. I spent almost two hours touring the facility. It was very interesting and I was very impressed of how clean and up to date the facility is. Everyone was doing a great job. I talked to them about the new generator that they are in the process of purchasing and installing. There is a great need for this piece of equipment. I have talked to Mike Betz about touring the water department. I was notified by a person on Hocking Road that they had problems with their sewer system. I notified Ron and in that same day he and another person had checked it out and resolved the problem. The person got back with me and could not believe the response. It meant a lot to them. I also notified the water department of a leak in front of the Coffee Cup. They already knew about it and the repairs were being done today 2/12/2018. Thanks for all that the city workers do for our city. Ron also said that the water line has been temporarily fixed where there was little or no water pressure.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report.
Mrs. Drake Planning and Zoning Committee met prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss Ordinance 1313-Rentals. The Ordinance was discussed and Mr. Cross is to move forward working with Hillis Hughes, Marietta College, with interns to collect information. The data gathered will be used to update the ordinance.
Mrs. Drake, Economic Development Committee reported that the committee met on Thursday, January 25th, 2018.
Jeff Totten spoke about getting information out to the people of the community by ‘crowd funding’/crowd sourcing/, which are current terms that replace networking. Various ideas were exchanged to promote Belpre and local businesses. There will be more forth coming on this.
Bob McCloy spoke on ‘Searching for Answers’ following the Strategic Plan provided by Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Discussion ‘what do we do next. Again, it was discussed about business: raise money for businesses or bring business to Belpre. More discussion and planning forth coming.
Mayor Lorentz informed the group that information was provided to City Council on obtaining a grant writer, which will be a good way to obtain monies for the City, and that council is currently working on the budget and are to consider funding for a professional Grant Writer.
Kirk McCall spoke on potential projects in relationship to the Strategic Plan looking at short term and long-term projects. This topic will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting as it will pertain to different parts of the city for enhancement and promotional.
David Howell of the News Center, WTAP, contributed good ideas along with the Corvette Club would like to hold a Corvette Car Show on Memorial Day, Civitan Park.
SE Port Authority, Andy Kuhn reported there is a Re-development Project associated with the State in which they are looking for 5-25 acre sites, and creation of Industrial Park of 20-30,000 sq. ft.
Karen Waller shared there will be a Business Expo at Middleton Doll April 30th, and that Boxer, Bed, and Biscuits hopes to open by June 1st.
Next meeting is scheduled for February 22nd, 6PM.
Ms. Riffle Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Unfinished Business: –
Ms. Abdella brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION CREATING FUND #218: DEPOSITS OF EMS LEVY FUNDS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Ms. Abdella made a motion to suspend the rule of council on three different days to allow for the third reading of A RESOLUTION CREATING FUND #218: DEPOSITS OF EMS LEVY FUNDS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Ms. Abdella brought before council for third reading A RESOLUTION CREATING FUND #218: DEPOSITS OF EMS LEVY FUNDS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Ms. Abdella moved this be Resolution #1, 2018-2019 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
New Business – none
Persons Appearing Before Council:
Penny Green 702 Donna Drive appeared before council thanking Ron Cross and all involved for the temporary water pressure fix on Mead Street and Donna Drive. She was happy to say that they have more water pressure now than they have had for quite some time.
Brian Green 702 Donna Drive asked about when they did the line replacement would the line be replaced on Mead Street and then tied into Donna Drive. According Mr. Cross the replacement would be on Mead Street.
Josh Campbell stated that comments have been made out in the public that city council just does what they want to and we don’t want to involve the citizens. I think we as council want to come up with some kind of a PR. I think we want to come up with ideas of getting information to our citizens. Our news media does a great job I think we just need a little more. I would like to see more open forums so that citizens that voted for us can see what we are doing.
Mr. Gant made a motion to adjourn at 8:15PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.