Council President Mr. Martin called the February 24, 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, Ms. Riffle and Mr. Shutts present. Also present was 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 Mayor Lorentz.
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 February 10, 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 was absent. No report was given in his absence.
Safety-Service Director, Mrs. Hoblitzell reported that she has been working on the evaluations and handbook for our employees. Mrs. Hoblitzell had the opportunity of speaking before the senior citizens on Thursday. Also she was able to collect a $65 charge for the first car impounded.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger reported that before you is the annual report for Payment Service Network. You will see that we first offered on-line bill pay on January 1, 2015. We do monthly billing. There are a total customers transferred from CSSI of 3,800 with 1,330 customers that has signed up for on-line bill pay which is 35%. We have 1,090 of actual use per month making the percentage of actual usage 28.7%. We have had a decline/rejected check payments ONLY 0.46%, rejected (miss entered banking information of 0.18% and decline (NSF – Insufficient funds (of 0.28%. Miss Pittenger stated that this is a great program and she is very pleased with it.
City Law Director Mr. Webster reported that everyone should have received copies by email today of two ordinances: ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2020 and 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. Also the clerk and I have been working on an FOIA request from the University of California. When we started working on this we discovered that some of the minutes requested weren’t here however I had copies in my office. Also the requestor wasn’t clear whether it was the minutes that went with the agenda for a specific meeting or whether it was the actual meeting date. I have asked the clerk to contact the requestor to be sure what she actually wants so we can get that information forwarded on to her. Ms. Riffle asked what specifically they are looking for. Mr. Webster stated that he has no idea however the request are random. Mr. Webster stated it looked like a research project for that university.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland had no report this evening.
Communications and Petitions: –
Mr. Martin assigned 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 to the Finance/Audit Committee.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee reported that Finance/Audit Committee met February 24, 2020 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of discussing the 2020 Appropriations. We went back over some things and answered questions that we had. Each of you should have a copy of the Expense/Revenue and Expense line by line that will be attached to the ordinance. There should be three documents that have been made available to you. I would ask you to go through the expense and revenue, make questions so that at the next committee meeting all questions can be addressed. Please note that there is a discrepancy between the revenue and the expense. Some of the revenue numbers are estimates and could be high while others may be low. Mr. Ferguson called a committee meeting for March 9, 2020 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of furthering his discussion on the ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2020. I would also like to add to tonight’s agenda for first 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. Gant, Police and Fire Committee called a committee meeting for February 25, 2020 at 8PM for the purpose of discussing EMS/Paramedics.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer reported that her committee met on February 20, 2020 at 6PM in the Council Chambers. Council Members present were: Judith Drake, Dave Ferguson, Bill Locke, Lee Shutts, Tim Grant and myself. Also present was City Law Director Tom Webster and one member of the community.
This was the second meeting held in regards to the junk/abandoned car issue in the city. We reviewed what had been discussed at the previous meeting and then we discussed the “homework” assigned from the previous meeting. Members were to research other cities/towns ordinances that may be better than ours.
Mrs. Drake, presented ordinances from Portsmouth, Zanesville, and Barberton. I provided information from Hilliard. Mr. Webster weighed in on some of these. He reminded us that any changes must address.
As we are exploring this situation, we have found that this may be a multi-prong approach, as many cities address this across many ordinances. While the bulk of the code would be its own ordinance it can also be addressed within other ordinances as well. Health Safety and Sanitation Codes, Business Codes, Housing Codes and Zoning Codes could and would probably be affected by any additions or changes to current code. So, the question was asked, if it would be best to do the codes all at one time? Mr. Webster believed that would be best. This would prevent any discrepancies when it came to enforcement.
The committee felt that we had said what needed to be said and we decided the next step was to determine the best way forward. I will compile all the Ordinances from the aforementioned cities, as well as Belpre’s and the Ohio Revised Code. I will send these out to all Council members to review and provide feedback. We will then have another meeting to have a consensus on what we feel would be best for our city. We will forward that to Mr. Webster and he will compile an ordinance for review at that time.
I appreciate all the Council members that have attended the meetings and provided input. I have not called another meeting at this time, but will at the next meeting.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee reported that opening day at Civitan Park will be April 13th. 2020. On March 14th at 8 AM we will have a work day at the field. There is a lot of work to be done along with back stops and the dug outs. Mayor Lorentz announced at the last meeting that he has someone wanting to earn his Eagle Scout and he is willing to take on the project.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee reported that tomorrow he would attend his first meeting of the South Eastern Ohio Port Authority. Mr. Webster informed Mr. Locke that it had been canceled. Mr. Webster told him that the meeting would be scheduled in two weeks and he would let him know when the meeting would be held.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report. Mr. Locke announced that the Economic Development Committee would meet on Thursday at 6PM at the Chamber.
Ms. Miller Rules Committee asked a question about the Sunshine Law and if we are in violation when there is more than three of us attending other meetings like the Chamber meetings. Mr. Webster stated that it would be in violation if council members are having a scheduled meeting but if they are attending another meeting held by another group it should not be an issue. Mrs. Drake stated that the Economic Development Committee Meeting is held by the Chamber and is an open meeting.
Ms. Miller stated that she was assigned changing the time of council meetings. I have a conflict with the time change as I’m involved with my church. I know you said the purpose was to get more folks to attend the meeting. I don’t feel that you will get anymore to attend. The only time they come is when something comes up that concerns them therefore I’m tabling this legislation until someone can give me another reason why we should change the time.
Mrs. Drake stated that when you are elected to a position you have duties and responsibilities to the community and that is why we are elected to the position.
Ms. Riffle asked if it can be tabled or do we need to address? Mr. Martin stated that we would discuss later on in the meeting.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only.
Ms. Riffle asked when the garbage contract runs out? She was informed June 30, 2020.
Unfinished Business: – None
NEW BUSINESS: –
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for first reading ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE FOR CALENDAR AND FISCAL YEAR 2020. Mr. Ferguson stated that the Ordinance should have an Exhibit A with it. 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 first 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.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Lynn Ferguson 902 Morgan Avenue, Belpre thanked everyone who ran for seats on council. Everyone knows at times those seats are thankless jobs. I’m here tonight to discuss properties in our city. Properties that visually look bad, the clutter on properties, etc. We deserve better. I know we have provisions on our books. I have been in contact with Andrew Webster and Leonard Wiggins and both have been very responsive to my calls. However I believe we need to look closer at our housing ordinances, inoperable vehicles, and junk from yard sales laying around etc. and see what penalties can be imposed for minor misdemeanors and those subject to an offense. I feel there needs some internal review as who does what. I have a concern about property values. We are meaningful, we are valuable and we are better than this.
Mrs. Drake thanked Mrs. Ferguson for her comments. She stated that 20 years ago Donna Gainer tried to address this issue around Putnam Place and you can see nothing has taken place. Ms. Riffle stated that we are working with inoperable vehicles right now however I feel we will be moving forward toward landscaping and appearances.
Ms. Riffle asked about the legislation regarding changing the time of our Council meetings. Ms. Riffle asked if it was valid for the committee chairman to table legislation without talking with others on her committee. According to Mr. Webster the committee chairman has the right to table. President of Council Mr. Martin removed this legislation from the Rules Committee and assigned to the Economic Development Committee.
Mr. Webster stated that he has been in contact with the Safety-Service Director regarding the Electric Aggregation renewal that is coming up in April. We are going to contact AEP Energy Inc. who is our supplier to get the documents we will need to do that. We will also be talking to potential providers of our services. This will all be coming up in March.
Mr. Locke called a committee meeting for Monday March 2, 2020 at 7:30 PM for the purpose of discussing changing the time of our council meeting.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:15pm. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.