BARNESVILLE-"We're going to be very cautious," said Barnesville Mayor Ron Bischof. "We're going to sit down, make a plan and carry it out."
At Monday night's village council meeting, after a unanimous affirmative vote, Mayor Bischof and Council President Dale Bunting signed an agreement with representatives from Antero Resources to lease 1,047 acres of village-owned property outside of the corporation limits for $5,700 per acre-an amount just shy of $6 million.
The deal, which also includes 20 percent royalties on production, was one year in the making and was facilitated by local attorney Ed Sustersic and the Utica Landowners Group LLC.
DALE?BUNTING, Barnesville Village Council president, right, and Mayor Ron Bischof, seated, sign a lease agreement for more than 1,000 acres at $5,700 each. Company representatives, from left, Chris Treml and Boone Ellis flew in from Colorado-based Antero Resources to complete the paperwork.
Antero Resources was formed in 2002 and is based in Denver, Colo. It is one of the largest Marcellus shale producers in West Virginia with more than 100 wells. According to Antero Land Manager Chris Treml, the company has 300 horizontal wells in various basins in the United States. The company has three wells in Monroe and Noble counties, two completed and one under construction.
"It means a lot to us to work with different communities," Treml said. "We want to thank the Village of Barnesville. This is the first step in an ongoing relationship. It's important to us that people know we want to work with them as far as leasing and drilling."
Treml added that projects other towns have completed with funds from Antero include building a community center and fencing around a school, and they are regular contributors to fairs and junior fair auctions.
"I feel good about this," noted Sustersic. "We'll continue to work with Barnesville and expand the relationship we've started."
The Utica Landowners Group began studying the oil and gas leasing market in 2007 and has attained the highest price in the state of Ohio paid by an energy company for land in Monroe, Noble and Guernsey counties. The ULG will hold a meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Union Local High School for landowners in western Belmont County, including the townships of Somerset, Warren, Wayne, Goshen, Union, Kirkwood and Flushing. Those interested in attending should bring tax duplicates and can call (740) 635-0348 for more information.
In Barnesville the issue of local tax collection is not over though council voted to approve a contract with the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) at the last meeting. Fiscal Officer Darla Fuller noted two items on the RITA contract that she thought warranted further discussion. Council member Terry McCort, who was absent last meeting, asked questions about the actual percentage of taxes that Barnesville collects, what agencies are available to track down those who are non-compliant and the additional administrative duties performed by retiring Tax Clerk Donna Warner.
Bill Knox, accountant and economic development specialist, cited statistics saying that the federal tax non-compliance rate is 17 percent nationally and over 20 percent in Ohio. "RITA closes the gap on collections," he said. "I think we have an issue with non-compliance in Barnesville. RITA is one way to address it."
Fuller told council about an agency that might allow the town to maintain the local tax collections and give them some of the same services as RITA with lower charges. Councilman Brad Hudson said he would be interested in hearing more about the service. Fuller said she would mail copies of the information she received to council members and Knox.
Council authorized Village Administrator Roger Deal to submit a grant application for Phase III of the Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project. The total project amount will be $255,600 of which the village match is $66,400.
Members also approved Resolution #3571 entering into a loan agreement with the Belmont County Port Authority that will give the Port Authority $500,000 to pay construction costs on the industrial park water line project. The loan will be paid back with a state grant that reimburses expenses.
A work session is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in the village administrator's office to discuss water sales and the water project.
Council members gave the okay to move the town Halloween "trick or treat" night from Wednesday, Oct. 31 to Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 7 p.m.
The Barnesville Village Council meets every other Monday at 7 p.m.
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