Council President Mr. Martin called the May 11, 2020 meeting to order at 7:35 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 Mayor Lorentz, Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, Treasurer Mrs. Copeland and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith.
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.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the minutes of April 27, 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 as he was having difficulties signing in. Chief Williams and our officers have agreed to help with the traditional Sr. Parade for our students. The chief has made some modifications to assure everyone’s safety. The young folks are missing out on a good part of the Sr. fun so I for one appreciate his efforts to assist with this.
We have an employee on long term disability at this time and are working to keep everything running. This is new territory for our ladies that handle benefits plus finding coverage for all shifts is keeping everyone busy.
The Governor’s directives on the COVID issues is confusing at best. We have employees travelling that now must quarantine, businesses wanting to open that shouldn’t open and whole lot of folks that just want normal again.
Our maintenance crews are back to full schedules but practicing social distancing. Chief Williams and I have scheduled Mayor’s Court for the 19th should nothing else go wrong. It will take a good bit of time but, I believe we can keep people separated and safe as we proceed.
On Thursday May 7th The Service Director and I met with the Commissioners over the county meter and some lack of communication. Hopefully we can resolve the issues and get the repairs completed quickly. We are trying to be cautious and methodical as we already have issues in this area of town. Late note: Work will commence shortly to install the new meter and the commissioners agree to add the chemical to slow the erosion caused by the high sulphates.
We started the conversation with Rumpke to make sure our transition is smooth for trash and recycle removal. Let’s exercise a little patience as we stage and swap out all the dumpsters and waste bins throughout the city.
A thoughtful citizen had the Redwood Restaurant cater a meal for the Police officers and staff on May 6th at noon. Another round of meals was delivered later that day for the night shift. It is nice to see our officers are appreciated especially during these strange times. No name was given to us or the restaurant as to who paid for this. As Mayor, I want to thank this person for being so special and thoughtful.
Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell report was read by Council President Mr. Martin. Her report is as follows:
Finally, I have moved my office back to the city building. Of course, I lost the entire hard drive. Have spent a couple of days trying to get my computer back up and running.
All crews started back full time on Monday the 4th, except the auditor’s office.
As in the email I sent to all, the city building will be opening on the 18th of this month. There will be restrictions in place. A shield will be installed at the front counter and well as guidance posts. All chairs will be removed from the receptionist area and the door between there and the administrative offices will be restricted. All persons entering the city building will be required to wear masks. The following signs will be placed on the entrance doors and some interior doors.
Because of social distancing, we may continue to have zoom meetings a few more months. The state allows us to have zoom meetings until December 1, 2020. Even though this does not feel convenient, we may have to continue this way.
I made a visit to the street department a couple of weeks ago and was disappointed in the disarray of the building and grounds. The crew had been working hard to clean up the grounds and they are looking good. They have a ways to go, but the areas you can see from the road look nice.
We are getting some things together for auction. The auction will be scheduled as soon as the governor lifts the ban of auctions. We have a car, an old tractor, an old truck, a few traffic lights and miscellaneous from the street garage.
While Denzil was working from home, he took the opportunity to have his office walls and floor painted.
The mayor, Denzil Ray, Craig Barker and I met with the Commissioners to talk about the work being performed soon on the meter pit. They are installing a 6” meter and will start adding the chemicals to help preserve the piping.
The Police Chief has received a grant for COVID and had been purchasing masks, glove, Tyvek, etc. for ALL personnel.
A gentleman stopped me and asked about the golf cart issue. I told him he would have to attend a council meeting and ask about it.
I am submitting some changes to the zoning code for the planning and zoning committee to talk about on C-3 zoned district uses.
Ms. Riffle asked the Safety-Service Director about the trash contract. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we are going with Rumpke. Ms. Riffle asked if we will still be recycling. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that yes we would. Ms. Riffle asked if we would be getting different bins. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that we would be getting carts instead of bins. Ms. Riffle asked if there would be a cost increase. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that there will be an increase of about $6.
Ms. Riffle asked if the culverts on Lee Street was a State project. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that this was not ours. It has to do with the traffic.
Ms. Riffle asked the status of the increase gas line. Mrs. Hoblitzell said that they started installing it. As far as I know it is coming up Congress right now.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger stated that Year 2020 is the year we have to renew our bank contract so I will be sending out letters to all the banks in the city limits and advertising in the newspaper. Hopefully by the middle of June we will have received our bids from banks and I will get it to the law director as it has to be approved by the last meeting of July. I want to be able to give you plenty of time to do three readings. We haven’t been able to get our audit access report so I feel sure that we are going to have to ask for an extension as the gentleman giving us this report just had a kidney transplant.
City Law Director Mr. Webster reported that he continues to work with the Health Department as the openings occur and the Governor’s program. New things are coming out daily and as soon as I get a final report on the restaurant and hair salon issues, etc. Personnel Care Businesses, I will get that to Connie and the Mayor so they can be distributed to local businesses to have guidance’s as to what they have to do to comply.
I have also worked with the Mayor and the Safety-Service Director regarding the new meter issues with the County Commissioners. This will still be an issue that will require some hands on once the meter is in. This is in regards to extra volume in the system. We will keep you all advised as to what is going on with that.
Ms. Riffle had a question for Mr. Webster however Mr. Martin asked that all questions be held until after the reports are given.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland had no report.
Communications and Petitions:
President of Council Mr. Martin reminded all members of council that the next meeting falls on Memorial Day. He asked what council’s preference was to holding the meeting. It was the decision of council to hold the meeting at the regular time on May 25, 2020. Ms. Riffle stated if at all possible she would like to have the meeting in a location that we could have the meeting in person. Council President Mr. Martin stated that we would take that into consideration.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee had no report. Mr. Ferguson stated that he sent out a revised agenda for Kim. Mr. Ferguson made a motion to add to tonight’s agenda for first reading AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. Mr. Ferguson stated that he sent out a copy of the attachment. There is 39 employees, two part-time with one current. There is no change from last year.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee reported that the CENSUS as of May 5, 2020 for Belpre: Response rate 64.1%. Internet response 55.7%.
Mr. Webster asked Mr. Gant is he had heard anything else about the Fire Chief Inspection fees? Are they just for commercial buildings?
According to Mr. Gant the fire inspections that the Fire Chief will be doing are commercial buildings only per Ohio fire codes. There is a big advantage for doing the fire inspections. When you do the inspection, you are also doing the pre-planning. There are three tables with preplans already set up, so that if there is a fire in one of the structures, the officer can pull up the building and all the information that they will need to stay safe and fight the fire will be there.
Chief Tony told me that there are currently 13 EMT’S with two more that need to do their practicals.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report. Mrs. Drake stated that if we meet together on the 25th we will try to have a committee meeting.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mr. Shutts talked briefly about the poor condition of our baseball/softball fields. The high school field looks great.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Unfinished Business: – None
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for first reading AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson asked if anyone had any objections to running this through this evening. Ms. Riffle stated that she thought it could wait. Mrs. Miller stated that it has to be done so why don’t we finish it up.
Mr. Ferguson made a motion to suspend the rule of council on three different days to allow for the second and third readings of AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye except for Mrs. Drake, Ms. Riffle and Mr. Shutts voting nay. The vote passed 4-3.
Mr. Ferguson bought before council for second and third readings AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AUTHORIZED MANPOWER FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye except for Mrs. Drake, Ms. Riffle and Mr. Shutts who voted nay. The vote passed 4-3.
Mr. Ferguson moved this be Ordinance #5, 2020 and duly passed.
Miss Pittenger wanted to let this group of council know that this ordinance is very important. This should have been done in January. It set in committee for three months. We shouldn’t have paid people. This is crazy. It should not have set in committee for three months. This is all I have to say.
Mrs. Drake stated that the reason I voted nay is because there is no reason that council should sit on legislation for three months before acting on it. We could have voted on this two months ago. I’m tired of doing three readings in one night when we have had ample time to pass. This is not legal nor is it fair. This is an injustice to the community.
Mr. Shutts stated that he also feels the same way about this and that was the reason he voted no. I don’t like by-passing these readings when we have plenty of time to do this and we just let it go on and on.
Council President Mr. Martin asked Mr. Ferguson to continue with the roll call. All members of council present voted aye except for Ms. Riffle who voted nay.
Ms. Riffle asked Mr. Webster about the short fall we are facing financially and we don’t know when it is going to end or how bad it is going to be. Can we legally revise the budget or address it anyway to see what we might need to cut?
Mr. Webster stated that you can always revise your budget. Council would have to revise the appropriation at that time. We did that last year. Ms. Riffle stated that usually we are asking for more money not taking it away. This allows you to adjust your appropriations to the status that you are at, at the time whether it is good or bad.
Ms. Riffle suggested that Mr. Ferguson should schedule a Finance/Audit Committee meeting just as soon as we can.
Mr. Ferguson stated that he would like to do that in person rather than a meeting of this type.
Ms. Riffle asked about the $100,000 resolution that we passed as an emergency resolution has any of that money been spent.
Mrs. Hoblitzell announced that it had not been spent.
Ms. Riffle stated that since things are kind of winding down are we considering resending it or do we want to let it hang out there for another two months like it says?
Mayor Lorentz stated that we seem to be obsessed with this emergency fund that they put in place last month. All this does is give the mayor the authority to use the money in case of an emergency. The money is not a checkbook.
Ms. Riffle stated that she was asking about it because of the budgetary issues.
Mayor Lorentz stated the money is there whether you spend it or not. That is his point.
Mr. Ferguson asked if we should look at the capital budget with possibly putting a freeze on it as far as spending anything on major purchases.
Ms. Riffle stated that she thought it would be good. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion on it. It would be a good starting place.
Mr. Ferguson agreed. It is going to take all seven of us to look and find some kind of money to continue operation.
Council President Mr. Martin stated that he thought this is something that this council is going to have to look at pretty hard simply because the revenue is dropping into the basement this year but it will also affect next year’s budget in a way that we have not seen before. We don’t have a lot of carry over to cover the short fall. The auditor has done a good job sending out reports as to what is going on with our tax revenues so far. Mr. Martin stated that he has asked the auditor to keep us in the loop about all of this. We are going to have to all be involved.
Mrs. Drake stated that she has printed out all the emails from the auditor regarding this issue. I suggest that all of us look at the numbers so that we know what we are talking about.
Mrs. Miller asked Mr. Gant about the extension on the Census report. Do you have the date that the final Census has to be done? Mr. Gant stated that it is at the end of the year. She just keeps us updated on each month.
Mrs. Miller asked Mr. Shutts if we are going to be able to have baseball games this summer. Mr. Shutts stated that he doesn’t believe so. Mrs. Miller stated we don’t know whether or not we are going to be able to have the homecoming. We aren’t getting any answers. Mayor Lorentz stated that he talked to Zach Carte last week and it is looking pretty grim this summer of having any ball games. We are trying to plan a work day however it has been raining every Saturday. We have to have a day when it is dry to get in there and work. Mr. Shutts stated that we are going to have to get it cleaned up. Mr. Shutts stated that since the pool is going to be closed this summer, what is the plan for the money that was budgeted for the pool? I don’t think it ought to be spent for anything. This shouldn’t be allocated to be spent on anything else this year. Mrs. Miller agreed with Mr. Shutts. Miss Pittenger suggested that we don’t transfer the total amount however we will have to transfer some because that account is already in the negative. We will have to transfer approximately $10,000 to cover cost,
Mr. Ferguson asked about the Adjustment Report. Is there any opportunities to recover or recoup the adjustments from month to month maybe later this year? Miss Pittenger stated if you look at the report from month to month the adjustments have gone down. The reason for that is because in the adjustment report there are positives and negatives in there. There are somethings that we add to the account. In this month’s report it is only four pages long as compared to the normal 10-12 pages. This is because we did not do any shut-offs and charge the $30 fees. This was a loss of revenue that made the report smaller. Most of these are deposits applied or where people have moved out or leak adjustments. This is things that happen on a day to day bases. We are not writing off accounts at this time.
Mr. Locke asked Connie to send him an email about the zoning material she had in her report.
Mr. Locke mentioned to Mr. Gant about the golf cart legislation. I have gathered up everything I have and I can share it with you.
Mr. Locke asked Mr. Webster about Devola opening up their pool. I was under the impression that the Health Department said that pools would not be allowed to be open this year. Mr. Webster stated that this is correct. Mr. Webster stated that Devola would not open until the County Health Department says they can open. They haven’t been inspected and won’t be inspected until the County Health Department says they can go forward.
President of Council Mr. Martin stated that as far as the golf carts are concerned they have not been assigned to committee. I haven’t reassigned.
Ms. Riffle asked the mayor and safety-service director about the pool and the painting at the Senior Center. This is great! Are we planning on opening the Senior Center this year? I feel that they are at a higher risk than opening an aquatic swimming pool. Mr. Webster stated that Senior Centers will not be permitted to open. This has nothing to do with the city. This is specifically on the Governor’s program that is not permitted at this time. It is not on the reopening list either. Mayor Lorentz stated that the painting that was done was with the Senior Levy money that was put in place last fall. I was concerned about the safety issue with the seniors. Are we still paying them monthly? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she is still working with the seniors. She calls them daily, and is in contact with them. They are still in hopes of playing bingo.
Mr. Ferguson stated that the contract with the Senior Center is still valid and we are paying them on a monthly bases?
Mrs. Hoblizell stated that she did talk to Bonnie and asked her if she is still being paid. She was informed that she is still being paid and she is still working from home.
Mrs. Drake asked about the Management of the Senior Center. Mrs. Drake was informed that it was still in committee.
Miss Pittenger told Mr. Ferguson that we are not paying the cleaning guy since he isn’t over there. This is one savings!
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL: None
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:22PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.