Council President Mr. Martin called the April 27, 2020 meeting to order at 7:54 PM. Our meeting is being conducted through ZOOM due to the COVID-19 virus. 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 Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, Treasurer Mrs. Copeland and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith. Absent from the April 27th, 2020 meeting was Mayor Lorentz.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Martin gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the minutes of April 13, 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:
City Council President Mr. Martin read the Mayor’s report in his absence. April 22nd Dave Shaffer and I planted nine trees at Civitan for Arbor Day. Thanks to Ann Bonner and Kathy Davis for making these available to us.
The Sr. Center is newly painted, new baseboard, and the outside pressure cleaned and ready to open when the time is right.
To my knowledge we are all still safe and virus free in the city. This seems to be all around us but no Belpre resident so far.
The maintenance crews are able to maintain the repairs needed to assure service for all. We have decided to go at least this week in a reduced workforce schedule to allow a little more time for testing. Hopefully we can resume a normal schedule before we meet again even though the building may be closed to outside customers. We have little or no say as when businesses will resume but, hopefully soon.
After speaking to a few council members, our pool management company, and the health board I have decided to not open the city pool. The amount of money and time it takes to prepare for opening and not knowing when we can open, gives me little choice. This was an extremely hard choice for me as our youth is enduring a horrible start to spring and summer.
The Service Director and I have been working on insurance coverage for our city employees. The cost has gone up quite a bit this year which you will see in your report from the S.S.D. tonight.
I sincerely want to thank our supervisors and admin. team for their hard work during this confusing time. Our Police Chief, Fire Chief, Denzil and David have kept everything running and everyone safe over the past few weeks. Our Service Director continues to impress us with her ability to manage the projects we are involved in, plus the contracts and daily issues. Good Job by all, Thank You
Mrs. Drake stated that she wished this to go on record and be stated in the minutes that she was opposed to closing the pool. The Mayor stated in his last report that a decision wouldn’t be made until May 4, 2020.
Mr. Locke stated that he echoed Mrs. Drake sentiments. I see there may be a delay in opening the pool however I can’t see closing it. It’s terrible to have a piece of equipment like that and not use it.
Mr. Shutts stated that he is strictly opposed of closing the pool as he has said. Mr. Shutts stated they don’t need a Recreation Commission chairman because the Mayor makes all the decisions. The Mayor is an I guy and does this all on his own such as the amendment for the baseball field at Civitan Park. I don’t know any of this until I read his report. Therefore, when I come to council, I have no report because he has already reported it.
Mr. Gant said the Mayor had contacted him and talked to him about it. We brought up all the facts about what was going on with the coronavirus and it could go on to June before they could start opening the pool. If they did that you could only have it for one or two months and we would waste $78,000 to open the pool for nothing. That is why I did say we shouldn’t open it. The Mayor was in favor of opening it but he did say that he talked to the Health Department and other people regarding the opening of the pool and they weren’t in favor. Mr. Gant stated that if you want to blame someone you can blame me.
Mr. Shutts asked Mr. Gant why he came to him about Parks and Recreation. Why doesn’t he ask the chair about this so at least the chair could be a part of this? Mr. Gant said he should have come to you but he was just asking other members of council as to what they wanted to do. Mr. Shutts asked what other councilmembers? Mr. Gant stated that he didn’t know what other council members and he thought it was Mr. Shutts.
Mr. Ferguson stated that he did talk to the Mayor about closing the pool. He based that decision not only on those he talked to on council but also the Health Board. He was saying that the Health Board was not in favor of opening the pool. I would have to get more information from the Health Board as to whether or not it would be advisable to open. Mr. Ferguson stated that we are talking about $70,000 plus to open the pool and right now that money would be very helpful to keep the city afloat.
Mr. Shutts stated that his point is not whether or not the pool is opened or closed but I want to know why he doesn’t honor the Parks and Recreation Committee involved in this. All I get is his report. I never know about the meetings until I hear it in his report.
Mrs. Drake stated in the budget we have $72,200 for the pool. The last meeting we passed an emergency resolution granting the Mayor $100,000. We have been advised by our State and County Auditor that there will be a decline in revenue. My point is I have contacted other areas where I know the pool is going to be open and I have also contacted another city where they are holding off making the decision. I just feel this is a premature decision and if we are going to close the pool and not use the money in the budget than I think we need to go back and make an amendment on the $100,000.
Ms. Riffle asked Mr. Webster if this should have gone before council since we allocate the money. Before we were going to close the pool not because of the coronavirus but now it is and I was wondering if it should have come before council.
Mr. Webster stated the money was appropriated by council but the money doesn’t have to be spent. It may be spent but it doesn’t have to be spent. I ‘m one of the legal advisors of the health department. The health department guidance from the State Health Department was that all pools were to be closed until further notice. We inquired about the 4-H Camp because we have a big camp in the middle of June. In that regard I have asked both the local and county health departments and they checked the State Health Departments and as of right now all pools will remain closed until the 1st of July. That is not automatic. At this point in time there is no discussion of having pools opened by the 1st of June. The health department has to inspect the pools to allow the pool to open. As of now there is none of that going on. We may know more once we get Dr. Atkins report by the Governor this afternoon. Right now we are trying to decide when any of the pools will open.
Mrs. Drake stated that she wanted to make one more comment and that is they are finding out that this virus is not affecting those 18 years old or younger.
Mr. Webster stated it doesn’t matter the State Health Department will not allow the pools to open.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she hopes everyone is staying well.
I don’t know how anyone else working from home feels, but I cannot wait to get back to normal.
I held bid openings Friday, the 17th. We received bids from Waste Management, Rumpke and Kimble. The lowest and best rates are between Rumpke and Kimble. Still looking at the bids.
Sent FEMA the final documents for the reimbursement. Received an email from them Friday April 24, 2020 saying they closed the review and are sending on for payment.
I am including in this report, the new figures for insurance. The costs have gone up quite a bit. The mayor and I are shopping insurance rates. We are disappointed in how much the insurance rates from our insurance pool are raising 15%.
The street department has been keeping up with mowing and weed eating the parks, the four lane and the city properties. Dave helped plant trees on Wednesday.
The Water Department has been keeping up with the water leak repairs, weekly mowing and weed eating, regular rounds (twice weekly) of checking the Sewer Lift stations and Potable Water booster stations.
The Sewer Plant ran its regular 16hr day’s and 6hr Sat & Sun. All regular testing was accomplished, they also mowed the Mary Street Water Tank Hill, replaced two six-inch primary sludge valves for the primary sludge settling tank.
The Police Department has been busy, they received a $6000 grant for masks and gloves. The chief is currently trying to order masks. He has been able to order gloves. The chief is also trying to submit for a grant for a few more vests.
The Street Garage received the new tractor on Friday.
The City of Belpre received a check from the government today for a little more than $32,000 as part of the stimulus money. We were not expecting that large of an amount. It was requested in the letter that this money be used for health and safety issues for employees as they arise from the COVID-19 pandemic. Leslie, the mayor and I will talk about where to deposit this as a line item labeled Health and Safety.
Ms. Riffle stated that she had two questions to ask. At the last meeting I asked the Mayor about the water trucks being at private homes. Do you know if he checked with Denzil to see if that had been arranged? It is so that one person doesn’t jump in the same truck that another guy has driven. The second question is that you had mentioned in the last report that the Personnel Handbook that you had worked on had been distributed. Should this be reviewed by council and approved? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that any changes needed to be approved by council. Someone can’t just go in and change the policy manual. Ordinances need revised. The Policy Manual needs revised and there are more updates. Mrs. Hoblitzell told Mrs. Drake somehow she has lost the sample ordinances regarding the water issues and she asked her to email her another copy of them.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger stated that there are two months of Adjustment Reports that need approved. The reports are on-line for your review. I would like to hold off until we meet in person to approve.
Mrs. Miller informed the President of Council Mr. Martin that she was logged on now.
City Law Director Mr. Webster had no report.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland also has two Cash Reports that need approved however she will also hold off until we meet in person. We will have another report next week.
President of Council Mr. Martin stated that he wants everyone to review the reports on-line so that we can approve at the next meeting.
Communications and Petitions:
President of Council Mr. Martin announced that he wasn’t going to do anything about this this evening however the second meeting in May is Memorial Day and he would like council to decide whether or not we will proceed with the meeting. It will be brought up at the next meeting of council.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee had no report. Mr. Ferguson stated he has three pieces of legislation to act upon once we meet in session. The three pieces are as follows: AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020; A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF THE BELPRE SENIOR CENTER; and AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING A CREDIT/PURCHASING CARD USAGE POLICY FOR THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO.
Mr. Locke asked since the Senior Center isn’t being used what the cost of the center per month is. Mr. Martin stated it is a closed facility. Miss Pittenger stated that we have made 4 payments out of the 12 that are due. I would have to go back to see what month the last invoice was for. I believe it is March since we are paying a month behind but I can let everyone know.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee had no report. Mr. Gant was informed by Mr. Webster that the chief is trying to finalize the Grant with the Federal Government for the Police Radio’s.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report. Mrs. Drake stated that there are four city ordinances that each member of council should have a copy of. She asked council members to review the ordinances so that we can more effectively cover issues that we are having within our city in regards to water. She also stated that she would get copies sent over to Mrs. Hoblitzell.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mr. Shutts stated that his report had already been given by the Mayor. Does anyone know what the sewer tops are on Lee Street or are they box culverts? Mr. Ferguson stated that they may be electrical connection boxes. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she doesn’t think they are ours.
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: – None
NEW BUSINESS: None
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Jessie Wyancott addressed Mrs. Drake in regards to the ordinances she has received from other cities regarding water. Mrs. Drake informed Ms. Wyancott that the ordinances covers different subject matters. She asked Mrs. Drake where she could get copies of the ordinances. Mrs. Drake stated that she would send her a copy if she could have her address. Ms. Wyancott stated that her address was PO Box 376, Belpre, Ohio. Ms. Wyancott also asked how she could find out about committee meetings. She was informed that all committee meetings are either announced in a regular meeting of council and also the news media is informed 24 hours prior to the meetings. Ms. Wyancott stated that she doesn’t get the paper and could they be posted on the cities website. According to Ms. Pittenger they are posted on the cities website however she didn’t get a copy of the minutes until the day of the meeting
Mr. Martin asked Mrs. Hoblitzell and Miss Pittenger if they would make sure that they are posted on the city’s website.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:32PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.