Belpre Council discusses appropriations ordinance

BELPRE – The Belpre City Council argued over the annual appropriation ordinance for the 2014 year Monday night.

What began as a statement by Councilwoman Donna Miller regarding a $5,000 reduction to the beautification appropriation escalated to an argument about wording and duplication during the council meeting.

City Auditor Leslie Pittenger clarified the uses for the beautification appropriation, stating the money was for the replacement of swings, playground equipment, trash cans, pavilions and other improvement items at Civitan and Access parks.

Council voted 5 to 2 on a motion to amend the beautification appropriation to its original $10,000, with Miller and Councilman Dewey Robinson against.

Robinson was opposed to the fact that beautification was listed twice in the appropriation, asking for a clarification. He received none.

Miller cast an opposing vote on the grounds of unclear wording in the beautification appropriation, stating she believed the citizens have a right to clearly know what their money was being used for.

Council then voted 5 to 2 on the second reading of the annual appropriation for 2014, with Miller and Robinson against.

Pittenger said the appropriation has been before council since January and such objections should have been noted earlier in the year.

The argument was interrupted when Will Neff, council president, reminded council members the budget was not a set-in-stone document and could be changed throughout the year.

Council was informed it needed six affirmative votes during the third reading on the appropriation during Monday’s meeting or council would be forced into special meetings until the appropriation was passed, Neff said.

“If we don’t get six affirmative votes on this by March 31, then starting April 1, nothing gets paid,” Neff said.

Council voted unanimously to suspend the rules for the third reading of the appropriation, holding it on the Monday as well.

Council then voted unanimously to pass the appropriation ordinance without further discussion.

In other business, the council spoke of posting signs, increasing patrols and stricter enforcement of fines for littering around local dump sites and the city’s communal recycling container.

The area referred to as the Drag Strip is a popular dumping site in Belpre, said Mayor Michael Lorentz. Dumping problems here and at the city’s communal recycling container, near Fruth Pharmacy, have gotten out of hand, Lorentz said.

A recent clean-up effort at the Drag Strip dumping site removed a dump truck full of trash, Lorentz said. A couple of weeks later, so much more trash had been dumped in the location that another two pickup trucks were filled with trash to haul away, he said.

The dumping at the communal recycling dumpster has been a problem, Lorentz said. People from out-of-town are dumping their trash at the dumpster.

, as well as residents discarding non-recyclable items in and around the dumpster, Lorentz said.

“Only about 30 percent of the dumpster’s contents are ultimately recyclable,” Lorentz said. “We have even had people dumping animal carcasses in the recycle bin in the past, along with couches, mattresses, televisions, and all sorts of other non-recyclable items,” he said.

Neff was equally disgusted at people’s abuse of the recycling area.

“People don’t realize – when something dead is discarded in that dumpster, the entire load is considered contaminated and can’t be recycled,” Neff said.

City council discussed how to deal with both situations.

The communal dumpster is going to be turned sideways and a second dumpster added at the site to handle the increased amount of recyclables, Lorentz said.

The dumpster collection agreement reads “as needed” in the contract with Kimble Company Recyclers of Cambridge, Lorentz said. Discussions took place to change that to “twice weekly”, although no vote was held on Monday.

The council considered placing signs on the dumpsters, which would specify what can be accepted at the recycling site, Lorentz said.

“The fine for littering in Belpre ranges from $500 to $1,000,” Lorentz said.

The dumping of non-recyclable items at a recycling location is considered littering, Lorentz said.

The Drag Strip site will be closely monitored and people dumping there will be fined for littering, Lorentz said.

The city has to pay for the disposal of anything that is non-recyclable dumped at either location, Lorentz said.

“The recycling company sends a truck down all the way from Cambridge to get the recycling from the dumpster, and all they are getting is trash that they can’t use,” Lorentz said. “Something has to be done about this problem.”