Council President Mr. Martin called the March 9, 2020 meeting to order at 7:30PM. The roll was called with the following members present: Mrs. Drake, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gant, Mr. Locke, Mrs. Miller, and Ms. Riffle present. Also present was Mayor Lorentz, Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland, and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith. Absent from the meeting was Councilman Mr. Shutts.
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.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the minutes of February 24, 2020 meeting 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 we continue to come to a compromise with the AFSCME Union for our utilities employees. Fact finding was somewhat fruitful but, at no point is it complete. We need to meet in executive session to discuss.
My wife and I attended the Black History Month celebration on Saturday February 29th. It is nice to see so many people come together for fellowship and a better understanding of our history.
The city received an anonymous letter stating that our storm water system is overloaded due to the Farson Street development. The area of concern is a mile away and actually the flow is going in the wrong direction to be a source of concern. If any member of council gets this complaint please send them to the city.
In an effort to provide the best service and coverage for our city needing emergency services I have asked the Pro-Care leadership to meet with me to discuss extending their contract for two months. This will give us added time to review our options and make a well thought out decision. As I get more information I will communicate to council.
The High School Science Fair is the 12th of March so I will be out this entire morning working as a judge. The 14th I will be participating in the United Way Men that Cook fundraiser in Marietta. Anybody interested in the fundraiser head up to the Country Club on the 14th.
The Service Director and I met with the Health Department, Marietta Officials and EMS folks from our respective cities. In this table top exercise we discussed the Coronavirus Issues that seem to be plaguing our nation plus roles and responsibilities for all. On your desk tonight is an outline of the table top exercise we conducted. If and when we have this virus in our area a lot of questions needs answers ahead of time.
Our School Superintendent sent me a letter Memorandum of Understanding between the city and schools. This understanding would give our schools the ability to schedule and or control the use of ballfields and also give them priority use. Mr. Webster has a copy as does the Recreation Chairman. Mr. Webster said he didn’t have a copy. Mayor Lorentz to get him a copy.
A few members of our community are getting together to continue the beautification of our parks and intersections. As of now I believe all the major flower beds have been adopted by different organizations. We will also be working with Jon at Bob’s Market to get all the hanging baskets and pots at Civitan filled.
Jackie Cassidy spoke before Council regarding “Beautify Belpre” (formerly Belpre in Bloom) will be “Planting Pride” in 2020. Belpre is proud to partner with residents, businesses and volunteer organizations for the 9th year in “Planting Pride.” Please help by sponsoring a beautiful planter, hanging flower basket, or a memorial tree at Civitan Park. Your donation is used to plant, water, and maintain the beautiful displays throughout our parks during the spring, summer and fall growing season. Jackie thanked Leslie for providing her with information from Belpre in Bloom. On March 21 at 9AM we will have clean-up on the flower beds and on March 23, 2020 we will be planting. Anyone willing to help please meet us here on March 21, 2020 at 9AM in the parking lot. Ms. Riffle asked where you can get additional forms. She was informed you could get them from Kathy O’Donnell, Karen Waller, Joyce Lorentz, or herself.
Ms. Riffle asked about the Memorandum of Understanding with the schools and if this is something we usually do. According to the Mayor we do not. Mr. Shutts was not present at this evenings meeting to further discuss. Ms. Riffle stated that according to the outline regarding the Coronavirus we should have all received an outline of the table top exercise that was conducted. Ms. Riffle stated that she did not receive a copy. Mayor Lorentz to forward copies.
Safety-Service Director, Mrs. Hoblitzell reported that we had missed an early payment discount. According to Miss Pittenger we had not missed any discounts. Also there is free safety training through Workman’s Comp. I have been getting quotes from lawn care businesses to see how much it would cost to take care of our parks. Met with Buckeye Hills regarding grants for paving projects. I also met with Mr. Bishman regarding the pool contract. I went down to the pool area for a visit and found the pool area much more than I expected. I have been working on updating job descriptions and personnel policies. Once completed I want to be sure that every employee gets a copy. I have also completed the paperwork and turned it into Marietta Occupational & Health for random drug testing. This will begin April 1st, 2020. There will be a total of four employees tested per month. Mr. Locke asked who would be drug tested. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that the employees would be tested in all departments.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that before you tonight is the monthly utility report awaiting approval by council. A copy is on line and on the back table. Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the Utility Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
City Law Director Mr. Webster reported that he has requested an Executive Session this evening to discuss two items of business. One is the Union Contract and the other one is a matter of litigation. Mr. Webster stated that he has given Mr. Martin and Kim a copy of the Sunshine Law Exceptions so that in the event he is not available at the council meeting and we have to have an Executive Session they will know how to state the purpose of the Executive Session. There are eight exceptions to the Sunshine Law and our reasons has to fit one of those exceptions. We are going to start reciting specifically which of those eight items we are going into Executive Session over. Only items that can be discussed in Executive Session are those that we say is the reason. Generally speaking Executive Session is held at the end of council meetings and there is no actions taken after that unless we advise the public. Normally we return, stating the time we returned and adjourn.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that a copy of the February 2020 Treasurer’s Report is before you this evening awaiting council approval. Copies appear on-line, on the back table and a signed copy has been given to the council clerk. Mrs. Drake made a motion to accept the February 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. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee reported that Finance/Audit Committee met March 9, 2020 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of finalizing the discussion on the 2020 Appropriations. The copy that I have is the copy that we have all agreed to that states at the top 3/9/2020 Final. Unless someone sees the need to have another meeting we will proceed with the second reading this evening.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee gave his yearly report on the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. Total amount of expenditures for training, food reimbursement, travel expenses and community events was $953.06. Total deposits for forfeiture, sale of assets and forfeited items sold at auction was $1,849. I received another report on February 12th, 2020 for the Law Enforcement Trust Fund which was $1,074 and 4 receipts totaling $153.00.
Per the City Auditor Miss Pittenger we have to have a report every year if we spend any money or confiscate any money that has to be turned back over to the city. It has to be reported to council and reflected in the minutes.
Mr. Gant called a committee meeting for Thursday evening March 12th at 7PM for the purpose of discussing ambulance service and the fire department. Mr. Gant also discussed the tour at the Water Department.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee reported that she had received an email from a lady on Barclay Street complaining about trash in the streets after pick-up. Pictures were sent to the trash company.
On March 4th Councilpersons Ms. Riffle, Mr. Gant and I met with Denzel at the Water Department.
We each traveled there in our own cars. Denzel gave us an in-depth wealth of information about the operation of the Water Department and the various functions of the operation. He was open to our questions and responded with informative answers.
So much to take in and become aware of. You may say we came away well-schooled to a degree.
The Water Department is certainly in line for an upgrade of meter readings, which ties right in to the need of a new computer service for the Auditors Office. Denzel assured us he would have no problem using a new system. This would mean better service to our patrons and to be able to readily identify problems such as unusual amounts of water usage at any location.
Denzel explained problem areas to us and what is in the works to correct them.
The Water Department has been and is in process of inventory per requirements of EPA for the complete lay out/details of our Water System in the city. This is a manual inventory of the entire structure so one day the data can be brought up on I-Pad to the exact spot of an issue and save many man hours. Once concluded it will meet EPA requirements and be to the advantage of the City.
Those of us that attended this informative session with Denzel hope that the Water Department will soon obtain an estimate of the cost of this up to date system for meter reading and bring the information before council. The system would also free up time for driving around town to get meter reads and free up man hours along with vehicle usage. It will be of a great advantage to the City.
Council it is time to bring our systems up to date to save money and manpower.
Once this is obtained it would be to the advantage of the City to start preparing to replace our infrastructure. We all know this is a great need as some dates back to 1950’s. You might say our infrastructure is a time bomb ready to go off. How will new infrastructure happen? Section by section once the financial aspect is resolved. You make a Plan and Work the Plan.
Thank you, Mr. President, and I commend Denzel for his time and educating us. If there are any questions Tim, Penne or I will try and answer.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee was absent. No report was given in his absence.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee reported that his committee was given a matter to discuss and investigate. That matter being the proposed start time of City Council, from our current 7:30 PM start time and change it to the proposed 7 PM start time. My committee consisting of myself, Donna Miller & Penne Riffle, we were joined by Council members Tim Gant and Judy Drake. Also in attendance were Karen Locke, BJ Cassidy and his wife Jackie. Discussion about the change and its ramifications took center stage. I had 3 different residents contact me concerning the proposed change, one of those residents was BJ Cassidy. BJ (BJ was in attendance). He works shift work, as the others that contacted me, his concern was the committee meeting Council regularly holds before Council meetings. He would not attend any of those with his work schedule, and many others also. Council members took this information, we discussed it and the resolution we agreed upon was to leave the starting time at 7:30PM. Therefore we consider this matter complete.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.
Ms. Miller Rules Committee had no report but also addressed the trash throughout the city and the dumpster on Clement Avenue.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Unfinished Business: –
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2020. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second 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. Discussion followed regarding size of bins for recycling. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
Ms. Riffle asked when the contract was up. She was informed June 30, 2020.
NEW BUSINESS: – none
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Alan Cunningham 1513 Putnam Howe Drive Belpre addressed council about the status of the golf carts. He was informed by Council President Mr. Martin that it has not yet been assigned and would be assigned once the budget is passed.
Chief Williams, Police Chief of the City of Belpre addressed Council in regards to a check for $1,000 that was received last year to be used for a vest for police/drug dog. There was some miscommunication between the Chief and the Auditor but was informed by the auditor that the matter could have been resolved if he would have just come to her.
Karen Locke 726 Tuttle Street reminded everyone that there would be a clean-up day at the ballpark on March 14, 2020 beginning at 8AM until noon.
Bill Locke asked the Mayor when the Health Department meets. He was informed that it is the 3rd Friday of every month at 10 AM.
Penne Riffle addressed Mr. Ferguson regarding the credit card legislation. Mr. Ferguson stated that it would be addressed.
Mr. Ferguson made a motion to excuse Mr. Shutts from this evenings meeting. He stated that Mr. Shutts was home recovering from surgery. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake called a Utilities Committee meeting for Monday March 16, 2020 at 7PM for the purpose of discussing a written policy regarding refunds.
Mrs. Miller informed council of a Historical Society meeting tomorrow night at 7:30 to talk about the Constitution.
Mr. Ferguson addressed an issue from an employee regarding wages. It was a rumor that had been blown so far out of proportion. If you have an incident like this please address the person or the department it should be.
Motion was made by Ms. Riffle to go into executive session for the purpose of discussing the Union Contract and possible litigation. Refer to Exceptions 121.22 Section G-1 of the Sunshine Law.
Council reconvened at 8:49 PM.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:50pm. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.