Barnesville paving issue discussed

BARNESVILLE- Village council has several issues under consideration after Monday night’s meeting.

Residents from Woodland Avenue returned to ask members for any updates on paving their road. All say that their agreements with the contractor stated that Woodland Avenue would be paved and were questioning the city on possible courses of action.

“There are streets on the town plat that were never put in,” Marlin Harper, village solicitor, pointed out. “A road or street doesn’t have to be paved. The problem is with your contract with the builder, but the village doesn’t have control over that.”

Village Administrator Roger Deal responded, also, saying that the city tries to use grant money for expensive projects like paving. Many of those grants require matching funds and will pay for re-paving but not new paving or dead end roads. He said that, although they “couldn’t make any promises,” Woodland Ave. may be able to be one of the “grindings” projects on the slate where road construction pavement grindings are reused to coat a gravel road.

Some council members attended a presentation from Central Collection Agency (CCA) regarding their tax collection services. Fiscal Officer Darla Fuller says this service will save the village even more money than the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) proposed by Bill Knox, economic development specialist and accountant. Savings estimates run between $6,700 and $13,000 per year. Like RITA, there are not specific contract time limits. A “special membership” with CCA would cover just the delinquent, non-payments and under-payments at a cost of 5 percent of additional funds collected. A “full membership” takes 2 percent of the funds collected for all tax services provided.

Fuller says that using the CCA, also in Cleveland, would allow the village to hire a local tax clerk who can also bill for EMS services and work as her assistant. Councilman Terry McCort suggested looking at job candidates who could train with Donna Warner, the tax clerk and office employee who is retiring. Fuller told council she has already been reviewing resumes and has narrowed the choices to three qualified candidates.

Council members who were not able to attend the CCA presentation wanted an opportunity to read the comparisons before signing a contract with either RITA or CCA.

Council also held off on a two-year contract with Volunteer Energy for electric service. Fred Holmes, representative for Volunteer Energy, said that the city had signed up with First Energy but was not able to meet the 21 percent cap to give the village a lower rate. According to Holmes, AEP and First Energy entered into a rate “battle,” but the Public Utilities Commission recently granted AEP a rate increase.

New customers have been signing with First Energy, and the cap was eliminated. The village is also able to add street lights and traffic signals, excluded from the first contract. Holmes says that the village has been paying 7 cents per kilowatt hour, but would be locked into a 5.59 cent rate for the next two years.

Volunteer Energy is offering an electric aggregation program like their gas aggregation service. The service must be included on an election ballot, most likely in November 2013, should the town want to participate. Rates would be based on the entire community, and the option would be available to everyone not under contract with a private supplier.

Village council again wanted to take a closer look at costs before approving a contract.

Two candidates in the November election introduced themselves at Monday’s meeting. Todd Kildow, running for Belmont County Court Judge in the western division, has been an attorney for 19 years. He would like to see more representation from western Belmont County and believes his experience would allow him to make educated decisions.

Dick Flanagan is running for Belmont County Sheriff. He has 20 years in as a police officer with the Bellaire, Martins Ferry and Bridgeport Police Departments, helped form the Drug Task Force and is affiliated with the DEA, ATF and Mountain State Fugitive Task Force.

Barnesville Village Council meets every other Monday at 7 p.m.

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