Barnesville Council is considering another option to replace soon-to-retire Village Income Tax Clerk Donna Warner. At the Monday, Sept. 24 meeting, council discussed information from the Central Collection Agency, a division of the City of Cleveland, presented at a September 19 work session. At a previous meeting, council voted 3-2 (with one councilman absent) to contract with the Regional Income Tax Agency, also located in Cleveland to provide income tax collection services. Council also discussed using a payroll service and having the emergency squad personnel handle billing, eliminating the need to hire a replacement for Warner who is retiring at the end of the year.
Although not required, Ordinance 3570, authorizing RITA to administrate and collect village income tax, has been drafted. It was on the agenda for the Sept. 24 meeting, however, both the ordinance and a vote on the CCA Special Membership were put on hold so that council members not present at the work session could review the CCA information.
Fuller said CCA Special Membership would allow the village to keep an income tax clerk position so that customers would have a local person to address their questions and concerns. In addition, the village would pay CCA 5 percent on taxes collected from previous non-filers, and those people would then become Barnesvilles customers. Fuller said the estimated cost savings with CCA would be $6,700 per year if the new employee signed up for health insurance and $1,300 if they did not. It was noted that CCA was a non-profit organization.
At the Monday, Sept. 10 council meeting, Fiscal Officer Darla Fuller told council about the CCAs Special Membership Program. She learned about CCA through the Ohio Municipal League. At the Sept. 19 work session, with Mayor Ron Bischof and councilmen John R. Jefferis, Brad Hudson, Bill Stottler and Terry McCort present, Michelle Jordan of the CCA explained the agency and presented information about both the special membership and regular membership and passed out a cost saving sheet. Also present at the meeting were Fuller, Warner, Les Tickhill, Marie McCrate and Thomas Michelli.
Jefferis said he thought Jordans presentation was informative and well done. Mayor Bischof agreed. Jefferis said he found the possibility of the full membership appealing.
McCort, who felt the village was facing a deadline with Warners retirement at the end of the year, suggested council at least begin the process of reviewing resumes and applications for her position. Fuller said she and Warner received over 60 resumes, but had narrowed the field of applicants down to three, after giving six people chosen from the 60 an aptitude test.
McCort asked if the resumes could be available for council review. Fuller, reminded council members that the names of applicants need to be kept confidential because many were currently employed. He said that if council decided to hire someone, that person should be given the opportunity to be trained by Warner, as much as possible. Jefferis pointed out that applicants should also be chosen based not just upon income tax knowledge, but also with the intent to be cross-trained to learn Fullers position to fill in for her when needed.
Economic Development Advisor Bill Knox asked council to weight the pros and cons of both options carefully. He said that Warners retirement presented the opportunity for the village to consolidate services and become more efficient. Fuller said that the department has been efficient under Warner. McCort added that the personal touch of having a village income tax clerk was also important.
I feel it would be a shame to pass on this opportunity for considerable savings and increased revenue collection opportunities, Knox said.
Council was addressed by two people seeking political office. Todd Kildow, running for Belmont County Western Division Court Judge and Dick Flanagan, seeking the Belmont County Sheriff position, both addressed council. Kildow said he had been an attorney for 19 years and is running because he wants to represent and serve Western Belmont County, just as Barnesville Council members do. Kildow said he believes that a good judge needs a broad range of experiences, legal and otherwise.
Flanagan said he is a Bellaire Police Officer and served in the U.S. Navy. He has been working in drug-related crimes and said he was running for sheriff because he was tired of drugs and crime in the Ohio Valley.
Fred Holmes of Volunteer Energy talked to council about adding an electric aggregate program. The village participates in the companys gas aggregation program. Holmes said the Public Utilities Commission recently eliminated the cap, which had previously prevented the village from participating in the electric aggregation program at the cheapest rate. Holmes said the village could also now include outdoor and street lighting. He said the program would offer a rate of 5.95 cents per kilowatt hour. Hudson and Johnson both said they thought the village paid 4 cents per kilowatt hour through American Electric Power. Holmes said that records provided to him by Fuller showed that the village was paying 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Council agreed to look into the matter.
Council was approached by Debbie Lucas and other residents of housing constructed on Woodland Avenue. The residents wanted to know when Woodland Avenue could be paved. Village Administrator Roger Deal said that the village would have to pay for paving of the Avenue because Ohio Public Works Commission grants could only be used to pave streets that were already paved and county funds could not be used to pave dead-end streets. Residents said that the street was maintained by the street department as a gravel road. Residents said that the contractor had promised to pave the road. Village Solicitor Marlin Harper suggested the residents obtain an attorney.
Deal said the road is being considered for the application of grindings.
Deal and Mayor Bischof both said that also they could make no promises, perhaps money from the villages recent lease contract with an oil and gas drilling company could be used to pave the Woodland Avenue area.
We cant make any promises, but when we begin seeing the fruits of the oil/gas lease, it could be used to benefit residents, Bischof said.
At the Sept. 10 meeting, council agreed to have trick-or-treat in the village on Tuesday, Oct. 30 due to the fact that many people attend church on Wednesday evening. Trick-or-treat will be held from 6-7 on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
At the Sept. 24 meeting building permits were approved from Michael Van Fossen, 348 W. Church St. for the addition of a garage and Scott A. Pickens, 209 S. Broadway for demolition.
Council entered into a brief executive session to discuss finance and personnel. Hudson requested a work session for EMS business. The work session was held Monday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the fire station.
Council will meet Monday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m. in council chambers in the municipal building on Arch Street.