Bellaire council backs water crackdown

BELLAIRE The utilities committee of Bellaire Village Council, with the assistance of Village Administrator Dan Marling and the water department, has held a number of meetings with village residents in recent months in effort to get the problem of delinquent utility bills under control.

The purpose of the meetings is to meet with the water customers and find a solution agreeable to both parties that enables the delinquent bills to begin to be paid while enabling the customer to continue to receive water service.

Marling has previously stated how the program has been a success and that the water department is beginning to recover some of its lost revenue as it relates to these particular accounts.

Thursday, village council voted in ordinance No. 2013-10, insuring the committee can continue its work, both for the betterment of the water department and its customers.

The ordinance reads that it “permits the village’s utility committee to negotiate terms of repayment of delinquent utility bills.”

It is stated that the committee “continue to have the flexibility to negotiate on a case by case basis and enter into agreements relating to repayment at the sole discretion of the committee.”

Councilman Jim Piatt motioned first to have the legislation passed and was seconded by Councilman Jerry Fisher. The ordinance passed 6-0.

Council also passed an ordinance establishing a one-time rate of $1 per 1,000 gallons of bulk water purchased for a previous agreement with MPR.

This amount and transaction between the village and MPR has already been completed, with Marling stating the village received a check for approximately $1,600.

The ordinance also stipulates that the village reserves the right to alter the cost per 1,000 gallons for any future transactions. This ordinance also passed 6-0.

Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would establish a certified historic landmark commission and historic preservation procedures within the village. No action was taken and the legislation will go on to a second reading at the next council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m.

Police Chief Mike Kovalyk reminded council that last week, he had an officer resign to accept a more lucrative position with a neighboring department.

That makes four officers in the last two years that have left for better paying positions. Kovalyk also reminded that it’s been a year since Lt. Greg Harris retired from the department. His position has never been filled.

Code Enforcer Bill Swoyer reported that since the last council meeting, he’s issued: one residential building permit; one commercial permit; one contractor’s card; condemned one property; conducted 10 rental inspections; handled 10 property complaints, two of which were cited into mayor’s court and issued six, 72-hour violations.

Swoyer also noted his desire to meet with the village’s ordinance committee about the possibility of changing the fee structure as it relates to his department.

Marling, during his report, wished to recognize retiring water department employee Jim Riggs for his 24 years of service to the village.

“Jim has been an excellent employee for the village and will be greatly missed,” Marling noted.

Newly sworn in Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Fregiato stopped by to speak briefly with council, thanking council and the village for their support during his time spent as a Northern Division Court Judge in town.

Fregiato, who at one point served as the village’s law director, wanted to pledge to those in attendance that he will to continue to passionately serve the citizens of Belmont County as their judge, albeit this time on a different bench within the county.

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