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Belmont officials hoping to cut school demo costs

Photo/LENNY WITTENBROOK Belmont Mayor Stan Sobel shows council members and attendees of the September Council Meeting an automatic defibrillator purchased with $2,000 donated by EQT. The life saving device will be mounted in the Belmont School Gymnasium which hosts a variety of community activities throughout the year.

BELMONT — Village officials are looking to drastically cut the cost of demolishing the Belmont School Building by using nearby disposal sites.

During a council meeting held earlier this month, village solicitor T.J. Schultz said that he was surprised by the results of the bidding process to tear down the Belmont School Building as an “all-in-one” process — which included both asbestos abatement and the demolition — that the hauling of the debris constituted the largest expense on the project.

Schultz said under those parameters, the debris would have to be hauled to special EPA-approved sites — a process which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We decided, since we’re splitting the abatement and the demolition, at the end of the abatement stage when we do the demolition, we’re going to have clean refuse which means we can dump it on village owned property.”

Schultz went on to suggest that the village could use the old B&O Railroad bed, which has been used as a dump site for clean fill for years, and said he had been authorized to speak on behalf of Belmont Mills who offered use of multiple dump sites within a mile of the demolition site.

Mayor Stan Sobel said that he had talked to multiple individuals who estimated use of the nearby dump sites would cut costs on that part of the project by 25 to 35 percent.

After a brief discussion, council voted to include the use of local dump sites in the bid specifications as they move forward to bid the asbestos abatement and demolition separately.

Also at the meeting, Water Board President Ken Davis and Fiscal Officer Ricky Burkhead discussed with council the need to begin the process to adjust water rates with a new year approaching. Burkhead said last years restructuring of water service charges only yielded a one-percent increase in revenues, though it did accomplish the goal of redistributing the costs in order to pay for a re-lining of the village’s water tank and other water infrastructure concerns.

Davis said that they continue to operate on a tight budget and that they have become more aggressive with water shut-offs for customers who fail to pay their bills. He also said that he would be in touch with officials from the Belmont County Water Department to see if they have any rate increases planned for the upcoming year before any decision is made on rate increases in the village.

Burkhead also said that the village currently had no off-site backup for water department data. The official who performed a recent audit of the village’s finances recommended Continental Utility Solutions, Inc., whose services which would work with the software already in use by the village to continually back up important data.

After a brief discussion council approved contracting managed online backup service from Continental for $1,500 per year.

Burkhead also informed council that he had spent $950 for an office computer for the village, to be dedicated to his use of the accounting software.

He added that there had recently been problems with his computer that had since been remedied, but that he felt it was necessary to have a dedicated accounting computer. The other computer could then be used for making online purchases and other village needs.

Fire Department Lieutenant Kaye Hall updated council with specifics of the e-squad box re-mount that had been discussed during two previous meetings.

Hall said that they the new chassis would be a 2020 Ford 550 diesel, saying that it would be better able to handle the box than the 450 and that the total cost would be around $200,000, which included painting, striping, and refurbishing of the remounted box, with the chassis itself accounting for $137,000 of the price.

She said no money would be due until delivery, which would be sometime around the middle of 2020 if they got permission to proceed, and that they would be running with only one squad from January until that time.

She said that she and Fire Chief Bob Mills had gone over the numbers and thought that by the time the remounted squad was delivered they would be close to being able to pay for it in full, with Burkhead adding they had around $100,000 now and the Goshen Township service contract would be providing $70,000 per half year.

Councilwoman Lori Grobb made the motion to approve the purchase and council approved unanimously.

In other business, council held the third and final reading on an ordinance regulating the use of the community brush pile, which now requires either the mayor’s or council’s approval to utilize, and the second reading of an ordinance regulating social media conduct by village officials.

Council chose to take no action on a proposed ordinance to approve the amended budget of JB Green Team.

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