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Belpre City Council approves supplemental appropriations

BELPRE — Belpre City Council on Monday passed a set of supplemental appropriations dealing with street paving and equipment for the sewer and fire departments.

Once again meeting via the Zoom app due to restrictions on gathering sizes during the COVID-19 pandemic, council voted 6-1 to suspend its rules to read the resolution at three different meetings. The resolution itself passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Penne Riffle opposed in both votes.

“Once again, we’re pushing things on three readings that people aren’t aware of out there,” Riffle said.

She and Councilman David Locke also questioned allocating money to spend after earlier this year making budget cuts because of projected lost revenue due to a slowdown in business activity because of the pandemic.

Councilman Dave Ferguson said the money being allocated comes from funds dedicated for specific purposes.

The resolution appropriates $161,000 from an enterprise fund for water and sewer to install an actuator valve in the sewer system, something that is required by environmental authorities, as well as telemetry equipment, he said.

Another $80,000, from the fire department levy, would fund the purchase of two defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment, Safety-Service Director Connie Hoblitzell said. And $74,000 from the permissive tax collected when residents renew their driver’s licenses will be used to pave still-to-be-determined streets, she said.

“It’s money that is going to be sitting there today, tomorrow, next week, next year,” Ferguson said.

Riffle said she understood that but thought approving more expenditures after making cuts could send a “confusing” message.

“It is our responsibility to see that progress is made in caring for what we need to take care of,” Councilwoman Judith Drake said.

In other business, council voted 7-0 to approve the second reading of a resolution to advertise for bids for ambulance service. However, there was some confusion over whether the contract with provider Pro Care is up at the end of this month or in May.

Law Director Tom Webster said he would meet with Hoblitzell and Councilman Tim Gant to review the contract.

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