Barnesville changing utility payments

BARNESVILLE-Village residents will soon be able to make utility payments through a new monthly automatic withdrawal system (ACH.)

Water and sewer customers will continue receiving a monthly bill in the mail, but for people who opt into the program the bills will serve as notices that funds in the amount of the charges will be taken from their designated accounts on a certain date. Town officials will choose one day, for instance the 15th of every month, when all the transactions will take place. Fiscal Officer Darla Fuller says the program will be available through a number of banks, and those interested will need to fill out authorization forms. Council members voted unanimously in favor of the new option.

Fuller added that the JEDD 2 income tax system is nearing completion. The new district just east of Barnesville has already brought an estimated 160 jobs to the area. Council members noted that downtown businesses have also added jobs and have noticed a marked increase from last year.

Village Administrator Roger Deal informed council that the Request for Qualifications is closed for the water line extension project on State Route 800 near the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park. He said that he discussed the project with 24 companies, and 14 submitted qualification documentation.

Deal asked council to set up a committee to review and score all of the packages. Mayor Ron Bischof appointed Councilmen Brad Hudson and Tony Johnson and residents Tim McElvey and Les Tickhill. Council will be inviting Belmont County Commissioners and Larry Merry of the Belmont County Port Authority to sit on the committee as well. Members set tentative dates for the first meeting of Thursday, May 9 at 6 p.m. or Monday, May 13 at 6 p.m. in the village administrator office.

For the water plant bulk bid for chemicals, meters and other supplies, awards totaling just under $50,000 were divided among the six lowest-bidding companies according to Deal.

The investment committee is still exploring options for investing part of the $6 million in lease money, now in an interest bearing checking account. After hearing eight presentations from various financial and investment firms, Councilman Terry McCort says the town cannot take advantage of some of the more lucrative investment options because of Ohio Revised Code restrictions.

Disappointed by low interest rates, Councilman John Jefferis suggested putting some of the money into village projects where debt service could outweigh the interest gained. He said developing a strategic plan with short and long-term goals and prioritizing those may help determine direction for the funds.

Bill Knox, economic development specialist, agreed that a plan and “considerable discussion” is necessary. He added that going through the RFQ or RFP process with the interested investment firms might be beneficial in evaluating the options.

The investment committee will meet again on Wednesday, May 22 at 6 p.m.

Police Chief Dave Norris informed council that he has found a candidate for the police officer position. Council approved Mayor Bischof’s appointment of John Popadak to the Barnesville Police Department.

The mayor and council approved Fire Chief Bob Smith’s request to reinstate Kim Merritt to the emergency squad after a leave of absence.

Deal noted that the Belmont County Safety Council presented a certificate to the Village of Barnesville in recognition of zero hours lost due to accidents during 2012. This is the third year in a row that Barnesville has achieved this.

Council members approved Pay Ordinance #9 in the amount of $90,040.43, and an addition of $11,419.26. The next finance committee meeting will be held Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the 2014 budget.

Barnesville village council meetings are held every other Monday at 7 p.m.

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