Bethesda council presented update

BETHESDA-At Thursday’s village council meeting, members heard progress updates on the water line.

Project coordinator Dick Quinlin provided council with three documents for review in the next steps, and grant writer Pam Ewing asked for signatures on a completed grant application.

Quinlin distributed the engineering agreement with Burgess and Niple, the firm handling the water line specifications, and asked for a meeting of the water committee on Monday to discuss questions. He also provided a list of village roads that are expected to be paved on completion of the water line along with cost estimates. The third handout was a capital improvement report with two and five year projections, including an ultraviolet water disinfectant system and developing a storm water system overlay for planning.

Ewing presented the application packet for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant for street re-paving after the water line construction. The amount requested is $503,000, but Ewing explained that the grant is competitive and not guaranteed money. The village should have information in late winter on whether Bethesda is in the running.

She also told members that the town qualifies for additional funding through a revolving loan program which awards 40 percent of the funds in grant form and the loan balance is at 0 percent interest. Ewing said she will work on getting that together.

Councilman Brian Bee figured potential cost increases to customers, when the project and paving are complete, to be between $2 and $10 per month. It will depend on which grants and loans the village can acquire.

A Bethesda resident gave council members photos of her neighbors’ overgrown yard littered with garbage. “I’ve seen council members’ houses, and they don’t live next to anything like this,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to either.”

“I’ve asked for legislation. I’ve asked for work sessions,” Mayor Marty Lucas responded, addressing council. “These people have been in Mayor’s Court twice, the police have been there and they’ve received letters. I want an ordinance with some teeth.”

Councilman Paul Fitch explained to the resident that council has looked at the present ordinance, but that the village needs to comply with Ohio Revised Code because there is not a formal Bethesda zoning code in place.

Mayor Lucas suggested that the ordinance committee meet with the village solicitor and draw up new legislation by the first of the year.

Fred Holmes, a representative from Volunteer Energy, asked council to approve and the mayor to sign the natural gas aggregation program renewal. The program runs for two years. He also suggested that the town consider signing up for the electricity aggregation program at 5.95 cents per kilowatt hour, saying that approximately 600 municipal accounts have joined.

He noted an available electricity aggregation program for general consumers, too. The residential rate is currently 5.9 cents per kwh and 5.3 cents for commercial accounts. The rate would be locked in for the two year contract. Jeremy Campbell, village administrator, asked council to hold on the general program until the town had more rate information.

Bethesda Fire Chief Neal Hunt informed council that the department will be holding a membership drive during the month of October in observance of National Fire Prevention Week. Training for members is provided at no cost, and the cost of background checks can be reimbursed after a waiting period.

The firehouse will host an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Chief Hunt added that the public is welcome.

Mayor Lucas appointed one new EMT, which council approved, and appointed one EMT/fire fighter pending the results of his background check. Council also approved the appointment on the condition of a clear background check.

Fiscal Officer Rick Burkhead said that local funds are decreasing, and that “hard times” may be ahead next year. Quinlin asked council to consider a letter to Gov. John Kasich and congressmen about the budget cuts’ effects on small towns. They plan to follow through with this.

The village did just sign an oil and gas lease for 51 acres in the amount of $292,746.30, but Burkhead advised keeping the money in the general fund should the lease be finalized.

Bethesda’s annual Halloween festivities will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The costume parade will assemble at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the United Methodist Church and begin walking downtown at 5 p.m. There will be a costume contest with trophies, followed by general trick or treating from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The next Bethesda Village Council meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

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