Council President Mr. Martin called the March 18, 2020 meeting to order at 9:02AM. 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, and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith. Absent from the meeting was City Auditor Miss Pittenger and City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland.

Council President Mr. Martin 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.

Mrs. Miller made a motion to accept the minutes of March 9, 2020 meeting as presented and by-pass the reading.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Webster announced that he was the reason that we are all here this morning.  I wanted to explain in a little more detail while you are all here.  I received correspondence from both Local and State Auditor advising us that if our budget is to be passed by March 31, 2020 we should go ahead and have an emergency meeting as we don’t know how the Governor is going to respond to the COVID-19 virus.  I appreciate everyone being here this morning and I apologize for the short notice.

Secondly, we are going to comply with what the Ohio Revised Code says however you may get a write-up but we will make sure it doesn’t affect our audit.  According to Mr. Webster that’s not fair to anyone here because we couldn’t meet and have the third reading of the budget.  That was the reason for you receiving the email.  It is an ever changing situation in Columbus and because of that this is just being safe rather than sorry by getting it done.

Reports of City Officials:

Mayor Lorentz reported that since our last meeting I have met with Pro-Care to discuss our contract. It seems that the last signed contract allows for us to roll it over. The good thing is we have enough time to make hopefully the right decision for the city.

On Thursday I did help with the judging for the High School Science Fair. Our students had some very nice projects this year.

The Men that Cook fundraiser for United Way was cancelled as are many of the scheduled activities in our area.

Hopefully council is watching the progress of the virus that is consuming our lives as we once knew. The Health Board is actively assisting with answering questions and assisting where needed. Our Senior Center is keeping contact with some of the regulars that may need help or food. Our churches and schools are also doing all that is possible to make sure everyone is receiving help where needed.

The Sr. Center is being painted at this time thanks to the Sr. Levy funds. The center is now closed but Bonnie and crew are delivering meals to those who are in need.

Work Day is scheduled for Saturday at 09:00 for beautification but may need to be cancelled

As always, if you need anything don’t hesitate to call.      

Ms. Riffle asked if the Senior Center needed any help such as donations/funding.  According to Mayor Lorentz not at this time.

Ms. Riffle also asked about BAM.  According to Mr. Webster BAM is providing vouchers and food services for those needing help.  They will still receive services.

Safety-Service Director, Mrs. Hoblitzell reported that the decision was made to close the City Building effective Monday the 16th in light of the coronavirus epidemic for the safety of our personnel.  Staff will still be working until further notice.

Met with department heads Denzil, Dave & Terry to discuss safety & possible quarantine issues and asked them all to come up with a plan if it comes to quarantine.  Lisa ordered toilet paper and the Mayor, Darian and Leonard came up with disinfectant wipes hopefully to last us through this.  Cannot locate masks for the police department.  The Fire department gave two respirators to the police department.

Working with Kathy Davis to get the annual storm water report to the EPA.  She is having a hard time getting information for this report from the health department.  Understandably, they keep telling her they are too busy with this virus to get her the information she needs.

I completed the garbage/Rubbish/Recycling Specs & have the advertisement for bids ready to go to the papers and social media.

Sent an updated manpower list by email to everyone with the pay rates.

Mayor and Leonard cleaned the council chambers yesterday.

City Auditor Miss Pittenger was absent.  No report was given in her absence.

City Law Director Mr. Webster asked Ms. Hoblitzell if she sent over the information regarding the Salt Contract.  According to her the information had been sent over.  Mr. Webster stated that he does not have it with him this evening as we didn’t have enough time to get the resolution typed.  It does have to be passed by April 24th, 2020.  One of the things the Attorney General has suggested is that we only do essential legislation and avoid passing legislation by an emergency clause.  I would only raise the issue that it will have to be passed by all three readings the first meeting in April so we can move it on to the State of Ohio.  Also the Attorney General is not going to waive the Sunshine Law requirements but is willing to waive the attendance requirement for councilmen and allow telephone attendance and votes.  However I cannot see that we could meet his request for “virtual meetings”.

Mr. Webster also stated that the Joint Health Board District meeting is scheduled for Friday at 10AM in Council Chambers.  It is a Public Meeting and everyone is welcome to attend.  We will shuffle spectators so they can all get a chance to be heard.  At this time there are no updated orders received regarding health issues. If there is a change by Mrs. Goon I will pass it along to you. If there is a quarantine/isolation order in place the Police Department must follow directions from the Police Commissioner/Health Department.  This is statutory!

Council President Mr. Martin stated that if you get Ms. Riffle the Salt Contract I will assign it to her committee so it can get underway.

Mayor Lorentz stated that if the Salt Contract is not passed we may not get any salt.

Council President Mr. Martin addressed problems with email addresses.

Council President Mr. Martin stated that after the last meeting of council the law director and I talked about how we are to address ourselves in a council meeting.  We are tightening the reigns a bit as we all need to conduct ourselves as adults.  Raise your hand if you wish to speak and be respectful of each other.  We may not always agree but please be respectful.  This goes for both council and the administration.

City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland was absent.  No report was given in her absence.

Communications and Petitions:

Belpre Senior Contract was assigned to Mr. Ferguson, Finance/Audit Committee.  Ms. Riffle asked if there is a timeline on this.  According to the Mayor it is due.  The amount of the contract is $48,500.

Report of Standing Committee: 

Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee had no report.

Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee reported that his committee met on March 12, 2020 to discuss the Belpre Fire Department and other agencies bidding on the Ambulance service for the citizens of Belpre, Ohio.  I think we need to put it out for bid and also all the ones that bid on the Ambulance service has to either provide their own place or pay rent to the fire department if they are going to use their facility.

Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.

Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee reported that she received an email from the Mayor dated March 3, 2020.  I am stating in his exact words as I could not retrieve the actual email.

Late last week I had a couple ladies in my office facing a $1,000 water bill.  They are trying to assist a family member with selling a home for her care in a nursing facility.  It seems the line burst and ran enough to pretty much ruin the lower level.  As is our practice we adjust the sewer but, only once.  Is this really what is right?  Is this really what we are about?  We will always have the return offenders that never pay on time or at best pay late.  Mr. Martin, I would like to at least have the utilities committee take a look and see if there is not a better way, or at first glance something a little more fair.  The ladies that came to me are lucky to be taking care of themselves let alone prepping a home for sale.  This is just one instance of this type of problem.  (This is exactly as worded)

Utilities Committee:  Chair – Judy Drake, members:  Donna Miller, Lee Shutts

Ordinance Chapter 939 covers ‘Water Charges’

Upon reviewing our ordinance and other cities it appears to me we need to consider amending to more effectively cover the above issue and the fact it has to apply to ‘all’ and not exceptions to the rule.

Many cities have covered this mater effectively and some even offer an insurance to cover matters like this.

WATER BILLING/LEAKS/PENALTIES

Things to consider:

  1. Track record of payment for address of record.
  2. How long has a customer been a customer?
  3. Why leak came to be; story validated; happened before.
  4. Water is a business not a welfare issue.
  5. Other agencies available to assist to help pay bills. United Way, BAM, and church, etc.
  6. Fair is issue/situation same treatment for all citizens as cannot show favoritism.
  7. Water not in use/home vacant – no one residing/water turn off.
  8. Who is responsible or accountable for property?
  9. More modern system would help identify excess usage.

Mitigating circumstances

Mrs. Drake asked the Mayor if they would be shutting water off for non-payment.  According to the Mayor they would not but he didn’t want if published because of repeated offenders.  Mrs. Drake stated that she heard that other Utility Companies would not be shutting off their utilities.

Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report.  Mr. Shutts stated that he does have a copy of the Belpre City Civitan Park Athletic Facilities Memorandum of Understanding.  This Memorandum of Understanding is between the Belpre City School District and the City of Belpre regarding the use of the fields at Civitan Park.

Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.

Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.

Ms. Miller Rules Committee had no report.

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 2020. If everyone has a copy of the budget from last year I would like to go through the totals so I know everyone is on the same page.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Ferguson moved this be Ordinance #2, 2020-2021 and duly passed.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Ferguson brought before council for third reading AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO ADVERTISE FOR BIDS AND TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR THE AWARDING OF AN EXCLUSIVE FRANCHISE FOR THE COLLECTION OF GARBAGE AND RUBBISH WITHIN THE MUNICIPAL LIMITS OF THE CITY OF BELPRE.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

Mr. Ferguson moved this be Ordinance #3, 2020-2021 and duly passed.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.

NEW BUSINESS:  None

PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:

Ms. Riffle stated that she would like the department heads to consider giving us quarterly updates on how they are doing.  Not a demand just a request so we are proactive and we know where we are at with the finances when it is time to proceed with our next year’s budget.  If they can’t come perhaps they can give us a written report.  The report should go to the Mayor or Safety-Service Director and they can present their report.

Mayor Lorentz suggested that we hold our next meeting of council during the day and have it outside.

Mr. Ferguson called a Finance/Audit Committee meeting for April 13, 2020 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of discussing the Senior Center Contract and Manpower for 2020.

Mrs. Drake showed concerns about having the meeting outside as there may be issues with the recorder picking up the conversation.

Mr. Drake called a Utilities Committee meeting for April 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM for the purpose of discussing water within the City of Belpre

ADJOURN:

Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 9:56AM.  A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.