Belpre Council amends Nov. levy

BELPRE — Belpre City Council voted Monday to amend a 1.75 mill additional levy which will be on the ballot in November after learning the original resolution did not meet state code in Ohio.

In July, council unanimously approved a resolution providing for the tax levy for provision of police, fire and emergency medical services for the city of Belpre.

Law Director Tom Webster said the levy resolution was sent to the Washington County Auditor’s Office and then on to the state of Ohio for approval for placement on the ballot. However, local officials were recently told that under state code, the levy could not include both police and fire/emergency services on the same levy.

After city officials reviewed the situation, the levy was amended to focus on fire and emergency services and the amended resolution was presented for council approval on Monday night.

After Monday’s approval, county officials will hold a special meeting later this week to re-submit it to the state for inclusion on the November ballot, Webster said.

Council member Susan Abdella said the changes will not negatively impact funding for the police department. The primary needs to be addressed by the levy will be in fire and emergency services. No funding will be lost by the police department due to the changes, she said.

Abdella said the 1.75 mill will generate about $213,000 annually. If a homeowner has a $100,000 home, the person will pay $61 more a year on property tax.

In other business, Safety-Service Director Ron Cross said there is no specific timeline for the re-opening of Dragstrip Road, just off Ohio 7. The road was closed to traffic in early August after utility work caused a land slip. The city is working with the contractors and companies involved and it is not expected to be a cost to the city, but the process will take time.

“We are looking at several months to get through the engineering and repair process,” Cross said.

The Belpre Police Department received a $600 donation from the Ohio Valley Remote Control Car Club for the canine program.

Council received an update on the Ohio 7 Sewer Extension project. Mayor Mike Lorentz said the project, which would extend sewer service over three miles north along Ohio 7, is still on the table but funding issues have delayed action at this time.

The project would extend Belpre’s sewer system to Blue Knob Road and would add several businesses along that area into the system. The city has been working with the businesses, as stakeholders, to help with covering the costs of the project. All sides have been working toward the project for about five years and the original goal had been to start breaking ground this year, but that has been delayed, he said.

Lorentz said the cost of the sewer extension is estimated at $3.2 million and the city has been able to raise $1.75 million through grants and loans but has not been able to move further on additional funding to reach the goal.

Larger or additional stakeholders, or both, may be needed to move the project forward again or finding additional funding sources, Lorentz said. The city is working with the Southeast Ohio Port Authority office in Marietta on those efforts, he said.