MIDDLEPORT — A change in an ordinance, which calls for an automatic annual increase in the water/sewer basic rate of $3 a month for village residents, was discussed at length at Monday night’s meeting of Middleport Village Council.
Councilman Roger Manley expressed his objection to the “automatic” increase and suggested that rates be reviewed every year. Then if the increase is determined to be needed, it can be made on the basis of that need. He said that with the automatic increase, there is a lack of opportunity for public input and went on to suggest that “maybe the village needs to tighten their belt.”
At first, Manley suggested that the current ordinance be repealed and then later into the discussion proposed that it be reviewed by the ordinance committee and then be brought back to Council with changes. The ordinance committee is composed of Manley, Rae Moore, Emerson Heighton and Craig Wehrung.
The initial ordinance was enacted in 2008 as a measure to “ensure sound fiscal management and the future operations of the Public Works Department. At that time, it was decided that the automatic annual rate increase would be in the best interest of the Public Works Department.
In his discussion at council, Manley also called for “better control of finances” and more conservation in the way the village handles money.
Mike Henderickson, village building inspector, proposed some changes regarding inspection of properties. He proposed that in the case of a violation where a re-inspection is required, that there be a charge of $15. He also proposed that there be a new tenant charge of $25 for the purpose of keeping track of who is living in what property and also as a way of identification for times when owners to be alerted as to destruction or activity taking place there. Hendrickson noted that other villages, including Pomeroy, have a tenant charge.
Mayor Mike Gerlach reported that Middleport police officers, Joel Lynch and Leslie Lynch, have resigned their positions to accept other employment and will be moving from the area. As for the jail operation, the booking fee of $1 coming in and $1 going out was discussed as was the handling of money taken when prisoners are checked into the jail. That money is only managed by the police department for use in buying things like snack packs and then is returned to the prisoner when released.
Douglas Dixon was at the meeting and brought up the proposal that Middleport take over the water/sewer operation in Rutland. He said that a commissioner’s statement that the project had not been offered to another community was not true, because it had actually been offered to Pomeroy. The matter of cost to the village was again mentioned with Susan Baker, financial officer, reiterating that “Middleport will not bear any of the cost for employees, parts and supplies, equipment or anything else.”
As for progress on the impound lot to be established by the village behind Middleport Village Hall, Hendrickson said he is at the stage of completing arrangements and will be ordering the material and contacting the contractor.
Mayor Gerlach noted that he had been invited to Washington, D. C. by Congressman Bill Johnson probably would attend the meeting of Southeastern Ohio officials.