At a Monday, July 24 meeting, Barnesville Village Council approved a resolution to begin the process of placing a 1.5 mill continuous levy on the November ballot for village emergency services. The resolution will be submitted to Belmont County Auditor Andy Sutak who will then provide council with the amount that the levy would generate annually depending upon the millage chosen. Village Solicitor Marlin Harper said the next step in the process is for council to adopt a ballot levy to be submitted to the Belmont County Board of Elections.

Assist Fire Chief Tim Hall said Warren and Kirkwood Township trustees were ready to approve their own resolutions in support of the levy.

Council discussed the millage amount which may be changed before the ballot levy is submitted. Fiscal Officer Vicki Magers said council had information from Sutak estimating how much money would be generated from each millage. She said the estimated cost to tax payers was derived from figures from the last time the village passed a levy.

"Here's the thing, we're (EMS) $30,000 in the hole today, right now, for the year," councilman Brad Hudson said. "That's just the expenses. We've never operated off any money other than what we have earned ourselves. We've run on our own power for years and with the transports to the hospital we have done well until three or four years ago."

Hudson blamed cuts that resulted from the Affordable Health Care Act. "Obamacare crashed us. It just cut the heck out of us. It is what it is, but it really hurts. I wish someone in the government could tell me where all the money from Obamacare went."

He said revenues to squads were down and hospitals were struggling. "Everyone in the medical field is struggling. I don't understand it. Insurance companies are pulling out, and that's where we are today -- asking tax payers to help the e-squad. It bothers me and I don't like doing it, but it's reality. Do you want the e-squad to come when you have an emergency or not?"

Councilman Les Tickhill presented information about plans to replace the 15-year-old "Amazing Playground" with new equipment. Council approved the project at a cost not to exceed $174,613, to be paid for from money bequeathed to the village by the late Lucille Wittmer. Upgrades to the Barnesville Memorial Park pool are also planned.

"Les and his wife, and the other members of the playground committee worked hard and they came up with a great design for the new playground," Bunting said.

"It has been discussed for a while and I think that everyone who has been down at the playground knows the condition that it is in," Tickhill said. "This (new equipment) would be a more modern design and what I mean by that is that the life expectancy would be considerably longer than with the Amazing playground."

The cost would be considerably less (as much as $20,000) if the village removes the existing playground, installs the drainage, and pours some of the concrete. Chief Hall volunteered the fire and EMS crews to remove the equipment. It was noted that the new playground will also have an age two to five area and an age six to 12 area and a handicap accessible ramp. The swings will remain.

Tickhill said the project could be completed before the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival at the end of September. He aid the equipment will be purchased through the state bid program, saving another $20,000 as well.

Mayor Bunting also noted that upgrades to the park pool will also be paid for with funds from Mrs. Wittmer's donation and details with be forthcoming. He said the new playground, pool upgrades and paving at the park will all tie in together. "This is all one big, fantastic plan they had to make this all work and I give them credit for doing this for Barnesville," he said.

Councilman Terry McCort, who with his wife, Julie was involved in the Amazing Playground project, credited Les and his wife, Lori with their work on the new playground design. He said the community support for the playground then "blew me away". "It was amazing. It was fun. It ws hard, but if I had the time and the energy to do it all again, I would. It was one of the best projects I every participated in," McCort said, especially thanking Deal for his support. "We have a pretty amazing community," Bunting added.

"The community should know that the picket fences engraved with names and the sign with the names of those who participated in the Amazing Playground project will remain," McCort said.

Council approved a request from Police Chief David Norris to promote Sergeant Rocky Sirianni to lieutenant. "He's really been doing a great job answering calls and he's made the right calls," Norris said, noting Sirianni was on the Belmont County Drug Task Force. ""He leads the other officers and they are all doing well because of it. He deserves it."

Council also authorized Bunting to hire Curtis Rogers as an officer. The 28-year-old Rogers has four years of law enforcement experience in Zanesville. He was appointed on a sixth-month probationary period.

Council also approved the purchase of a new fire truck, accepting the lowest of three bids. The low bidder was Pierce Corporation for $458,000. Hall thanked Mayor Bunting for negotiating a lower price through the state purchasing program. Hall said it would take between nine and 11 months for the firetruck to be delivered.

Village Administrator Roger Deal provided council with bids on an Ohio Public Works Commission project to pave parts of 14 streets in the village. Council approved his recommendation to accept the low bid of $320, 087.87 from Lash Paving. Deal said the project had been estimated at $298.,145 and bids ranged from the low bid to $404,821.

Council also authorized Deal to apply for $39, 750.48 from the County Municipal Street Fund to use toward the paving project. Those funds come from vehicle license fees. Deal said the amount represented two years worth of fees.

Council also approved Deal's recommendation to accept a low bid of $175,537.80 from Parnell & Associates for paving at the Barnesville Memorial Park, including an alternate to pave down park lake road to the playground. Deal said four base bids were received ranging from $162,617.34 to $180,426.

Councilman Tony Johnson said he was asked about the steel plates in town. Deal said the one on East Main Street will be removed soon. He said the one on Chestnut Street belongs to Columbia Gas and he and Village Operations Manager Scott Baker had been talking to them about it.

Council President Tim McKelvey noted the paving of North Chestnut Street by the Ohio Department of Transportation. "What a big improvement where it was starting to rut out," McKelvey said, thanking Deal. Deal noted that Mayor Bunting "pitched in a lot on that, too."

Council approved the replacement of a sidewalk near the fire station where village departments re-fuel. Hall said Rick Bostic provided an estimate of $8, 175. It would be approximately 13 by 70 feet and be poured 10 inches thick to withstand the heavy traffic to the fuel tanks. Deal said the cost would be shared equally among the departments that fuel vehicles there. He said the sidewalk needed to be replaced for liability reasons.

Deal reported that American Electric Power Company will no longer be requiring an easement for Crestview Cemetery and will be redesigning the line so that it does not pass through the cemetery.

Council approved Mayor Bunting's request to begin the design process for a new water pollution control plant and develop a new Request for Qualifications. He noted that the current plant was built five years ago. He said the first phase of a three phase updating of the water plant was complete and it was time to begin making plans for phase II. Bunting said if the process began now it would be another three years before construction started. "I think we need to start working on it now before it is too late and we have to shut the plant down," Bunting said.

Magers provided council with a year-to-date expenditures pie chart for June 30, 2017. She said she would be provided one to council each month. Mayor Bunting thanked Magers for providing the pie chart.

A pre-audit meeting was set for July 26 at 1 p.m. in council chambers. Magers said Sutak requested the meeting. Magers said the 2015-2016 audit was in its second week and noted that two years ago the village was "written up" for not having the monthly financial statements approved by council. Council approved all of the 2017 monthly financial reports at Monday's meeting.

Council approved the payment of bills in the amount of $70, 704.13. Council set a a work session on Monday, July 31 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers to meet with a representative of the Health Plan to discuss a rate quote.

Magers also provided council with a timeline for the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA). She said there would be a conference call with RITA every Thursday at 11 a.m. to begin the process of transferring date into their system Magers invited council to sit in on the calls.

Building permits were approved for Don and Cheryl Eberhart, 715 E. Main St for construction of a roof over their deck. Fire Chief Bob Smith said no fee was required for Ohio Hills Health Services to replace bricks and install a downspout at their 101 E. Main St. location.

Hudson took a moment at the end of the meeting to note the passing of attorney Bill Chaney and thank him for his many contributions to the community. "He was an asset to the community. He volunteered on countless boards and committees for 60 or 70 years" Hudson said. "He was an outstanding gentleman," Bunting said.