Middleport Council discusses finances, projects

Staff Report

MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Village Council met in regular session on Monday, where they discussed finances and projects.

Present during the meeting were council members Shawn Arnott, Brian Conde, Larry Byer, Matt Lyons, Susan Page and Ben Reed. Also present were Fiscal Officer Susan Baker, Assistant Fiscal Officer Margie Baker-Keilitz, Building Inspector Mike Hendrickson, Supervisor Joe Powell, Chief Water Operator Andy Blank, Police Chief Mony Wood and Village Attorney Richard Hedges.

Minutes of the April 11 meeting were approved, along with the payment of current bills.

Hoffman said he had anticipated Jim Hudson would be at the meeting to discuss his water billing problems. Hoffman asked council members if they had made any decision on what to do about Hudson’s alleged over-payment over a one-year time period. It was the general opinion of council that Hudson should be credited in some manner for the over-payment. After a lengthy discussion on the issue, it was decided that a policy should be set up to handle situations such as this. It was generally agreed that Hudson would be given a monthly credit on his water bill until such time as the $1500 was paid back to Hudson and that final action on this would be tabled until the next meeting when, hopefully, Hudson could be present.

Hoffman said he would like to compliment Baker for her care of the village’s finances for the past several years. He said the “agreed upon procedure” for the village audit would result in much less time and a lot less money being charged for the audit and this was due to the confidence which the state has in Baker’s work.

Hoffman said since the last meeting, Powell and he had taken on the responsibility to see that the contractor keeps the streets in decent shape. He said there had been a complete lack of communication on this and he had talked to the owner of Tribute and the local supervisor and believes everyone is on the same page. He also said Powell communicates with the superintendent on a daily basis and he has been cooperative in getting things accomplished so far.

Hoffman said the guardrail, which had been approved earlier by council, had been installed at the cemetery.

Hoffman said the CDBG application would be due to the commissioners this week and Hendrickson had obtained an estimate on replacing the roof at village hall. The estimate is $86,621.71 for the roof with a 20 year warranty. Both Hendrickson and Hoffman felt that to make the project competitive with the county, the village should put $30,000 of village funds with the project, possibly ARPA funds. This way they would be asking for $56,621.71 in CDBG funds. The county receives approximately $140,000 and usually tries to fund three projects. After a brief discussion, council passed a resolution authorizing Hendrickson to apply for the CDBG funds and to commit $30,000 of village ARPA funds toward the project.

Hoffman said a meeting was held with supervisors and a health care advisor to discuss employee health insurance and the plan recommended has less benefits than employees have now with a $32,101 yearly increase in price. He said he would let Baker explain this but that he was against employees paying any of this now. Hoffman said he thought council needed to figure out a way for the village to pay this year and let employees know that next year they will be required to pay at least 10% of their premium. Baker explained some of the options that were discussed and the increased costs of the insurance. She pointed out that our group had more claims than the amount that was paid in premiums which made it more difficult to get a lower price. The use of some ARPA funds was discussed as a partial remedy this year for the premiums. After a lengthy discussion, Arnott made a motion to accept the 1b proposal for employee insurance and to set aside $32,000 of ARPA funds to assist with the insurance payment this year. The motion was unanimously approved. It was also recommended that employees be made aware that next year they would be paying 10-15% of their health care premiums.

Hoffman said on April 20, he had e-mailed a proposal on the reorganization of the Public Works Department. He felt the village needed a concrete plan on moving forward. Hoffman’s proposed plan would utilize Powell as Village Administrator and Blank as Assistant Village Administrator/Chief Water Operator, both at equal pay as recommended by Hoffman. The plan would utilize funds allocated to the previous village administrator and would also leave funds available for the hiring of a licensed wastewater operator when one becomes available. In the plan, Hoffman said the cost of this reorganization would be less than the cost incurred during the past several years. After a brief discussion, this was tabled until the next meeting.

Chief Wood said a jail inspection was coming up soon. He also said the Eagles had donated $1,000 toward the fireworks. Wood said he would be gone May 8-10 to attend Ohio Police Chiefs Association conference. Wood said he had a person that was interested in the position on the Task Force vacated by Shannon Smith. He said he would like to offer this person $16.50 per hour instead of the usual starting $16 hour. Council agreed to this wage. Wood also said since Smith’s position was vacant he would like to increase Jerry Darst to a corporal pay at 25 cents more per hour or $16.75. Council agreed to this change in pay. Wood said he would ask for executive session later in the meeting to discuss personnel.

Powell said he and Blank had been looking at old backhoes and prices on the internet and would like to list the village’s old backhoe for sale and maybe try to get $15,000-$20,000 for it. Council agreed to this.

Conde discussed the handicapped park situation and felt that it was at a standstill and would like to proceed with something. Baker stated our insurance company was supposed to give information on any liability involved. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed to try to get part of the project moving.

Council voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel.

After returning into regular session, Reed made a motion to approve the letter from Hedges recommending action concerning Smith. Council agreed unanimously with the letter.

Lyons recommended a streetlight be installed at the corner of North Second Avenue and Rutland Street. This was unanimously agreed to by council.

Outside of the meeting, Hoffman told The Daily Sentinel he would like to remind residents and businesses that blowing grass into the streets and sidewalks creates potential danger for people walking and cycling. In addition, the grass clippings can also cause issues with the sewer systems.

Council adjourned with the next regular meeting scheduled for May 9 at 7 p.m.

Information provided by Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman.

Staff Report