Bellaire officials to crack down on water payments

BELLAIRE – Bellaire Village Council has directed Village Administrator Dan Marling and the employees at the water department to get a handle on the delinquent account situation within the village.

“We’ve been directed in the water office, with the water meter installation and shutoff crews, to aggressively go after accounts that are past due,” Marling told council during Thursday’s regular meeting. “Any account that is one month past due, the village has the authority to go in and shut off the water.

Marling noted that the department is trying to be as lenient and understanding as possible but added that in some cases, that leniency is being abused.

As expected, these efforts have been met with some resistance.

“The police chief assisted the other day,” Marling said. “We’ve been cursed at, everything when it comes to this.”

Marling explained that payment plans to make up the arrearage on the bills is not an automatic solution but one that must come before council’s utilities committee.

He noted that letters went out Thursday to customers who are behind explaining the village’ ordinance on water bills and that the village has the right to remove equipment from the premises if a customer is behind on their bill.

Police Chief Mike Kovalyk noted that if water customers are unwilling to cooperate, they can be cited for disruption of public service. There is a case pending in Eastern Division Court on just such an occurrence.

Marling was happy to report that the village has filled the position of a part-time CDL driver. He went on to explain that a recent ordinance outlining the practice of utilizing temporary and substitute employees has greatly aided work within the village.

“We will continue to utilize and build off that to get various projects done like patching potholes,” Marling said.

Marling reported there were only six water breaks within village limits in March. That break total was down from previous months.

  • A letter of correspondence from Dan Brown was read, pertaining to the village park’s fountain and his wish to utilize a pump he purchased to held keep it running.

Brown purchased the pump at the end of last year and asked for permission to install this pump and maintain the water quality at the fountain during the spring and summer.

Councilwoman Lou Ann Bennett noted she had been in talks with Marling recently about the very subject and noted that the Chamber of Commerce, along with the All-American Days Festival, were going to foot the bill to get the fountain up and running, working with Marling and the village’s electrician.

  • Bennett wished to thank the village workers for assisting in blocking off the streets surrounding the village park during the recent Easter Egg hunt. She noted nearly 300 kids attended and roughly 6,000 Easter Eggs were collected during the event as each child came away with some sort of prize along with their eggs and candy.
  • Bennett also requested permission from council to allow Bellaire businesses to utilize the downtown sidewalks for a sidewalk sale to coincide with the All-American Days Festival that will run from June 6-8. A motion was passed to give the OK to her request, 6-0.
  • Cynthia Pugh, the program coordinator for the Community Action Commission in Belmont County’s Retired Volunteer Senior Program, told council that on April 1, a grant was received that is intended to be used to start a community garden in Bellaire.

A spot on 16th street, just north of the old Riviera has been tabbed for the location of the garden, with plenty of parking adjacent to the roughly 1.5 acre lot.

Pugh said she doesn’t believe planting will begin this year but noted that some of the Master Gardeners in the county have agreed to assist in the planning and implementation.

Council voiced its support.

  • Councilman Jim Williams announced that the next meeting of the Utilities Committee will take place Tuesday at 9 a.m. inside council chambers. The next regular meeting of council is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com