BARNESVILLE - Village Council directed Fiscal Officer Darla Fuller to seek competitors' health insurance quotes after receiving notice of a 42 percent increase in village Health Plan costs.
"We can't just put an $86 per month increase on our employees," Councilman John Jefferis responded. "If I were paying for this coverage I would want to know if there was an alternative out there."
Members decided that there is time to contact other insurance agents and make an informed decision before the policy due date in August.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
FISCAL OFFICER Darla Fuller, right, relays health insurance rate increase information to Barnesville councilmen, from left, John Jefferis, Tony Johnson and Dale Bunting.
Bill Knox, accountant and economic development specialist, presented council with information on increasing town tax revenue while lowering costs to taxpayers. The Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) works with several Belmont County municipalities in recovering delinquent and non-compliant taxes. According to Knox, RITA is able to access IRS and state information to track non-payments which could translate into an additional $40,000 to $80,000 per year for the village after the service's three percent fee.
"I want to stress that the overwhelming majority of people are honest and pay their taxes," Knox said. "But this additional money could pay police officers more, pay for a resource officer in the schools, pay for park improvements."
He added information on two payroll services for consideration, citing the town's limited personnel resources and time, the ability of the payroll companies to track payroll, taxes, vacation and attendance automatically and the competitive rates for the services. Council agreed to review the information and consider the proposals.
Knox and Marlin Harper, village solicitor, brought council up to date regarding easements to the east of Barnesville, allowing construction of the water and sewer lines for the new JED district. Because the railroad didn't own the property outright around the tracks, the village had to produce quit claim deeds with legal descriptions adjusting the use for water and sewer lines for nine property owners. Harper said this is consistent with similar past instances. The Belmont County Port Authority has agreed to split the costs with the village, amounting to around $1,700 each. Council members voted to proceed.
Harper also went over changes in the Gulfport water sales agreement. He added a contract termination date of five years, which will allow the village to re-negotiate rates should they want to continue and added a paragraph giving the town the right to stop the water sales for health or safety reasons, i.e. a water shortage. The current agreement rate is one cent per gallon from town lakes and reservoirs. Members voted to approve the agreement.
Councilman Dale Bunting said the Water and Sewer Committee recommends increasing the amount of water sold to Switzerland of Ohio from 7.4 million gallons to 8 million gallons. The original request was for 9-10 million gallons, but Bunting said the committee, while wanting to help, was cautious about "overextending."
A Woodland Avenue resident, Deb Lucas, asked council about the status of her street's paving project. She said that the developer promised paving more than seven years ago, and the town told her two years ago that it was slated for completion then. The project money was then used as a match for another project's grant funding and is unavailable at this time.
"It's not fair," she told council. "Alleys are getting paved and not the streets. It's a mess in the winter. There are about five different kinds of gravel."
Members will be exploring the matter with Village Administrator Roger Deal regarding funding and project information.
The Barnesville and Bethesda fire departments spent five hours training on Sunday. Trucks set up downtown, and firefighters evaluated the buildings and developed plans for addressing incidents in that area.
The Barnesville village council meets every other Monday at 7 p.m.
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