PC Council proposes fee increase
Paden City may be seeing a $5 increase in their municipal fee.
On council’s agenda for their meeting Monday was the first reading of an amendment to the Municipal Fee Ordinance 767. Mayor John Hopkins stated the city has incurred major expenses recently, citing $38,000 spent to repair storm damage to Seventh Avenue.
He explained the last time there had been a rate hike was in 2008. Hopkins went on to say, “City equipment is starting to get old and break down.” In fact, he said just that day the backhoe had broken.
Hopkins also mentioned there is sanitary sewer work which needs done, saying he didn’t know yet what all that would involve or what the costs would be. Also, several pieces of property need to be cleaned up and a couple houses that are unsafe need be taken down, stated Hopkins. His proposal was for a rate hike of $5 to the Municipal Fee.
Councilman Dan Probst spoke on behalf of the police department, stating the current budget will not run the police department. He said the city has two new police cruisers ordered and they have already allocated the money for them in the budget. Probst mentioned the cruisers currently being used are old and in need of repair. One is out of service and in the shop right now and will probably cost $1,000 or more to repair.
Probst said, “We have a very good police department and if we want to continue that way, we will need a rate hike.” He said he liked the work they are doing and they are hard workers. Overtime has been a major part of their expenses. Probst said Officer Owens has made 23 DUI arrests himself, compared to 18 by the entire sheriff’s department. Probst said one officer has left the department and another is going to be going to the academy.
“We are down to four officers and the chief may have to be off for awhile with some health problems,” said Probst. “Do you want to keep a good police force or do you want to go back to the way it was? We have made great progress in the drug problem in town, do you want to keep that?”
Councilman Tom Trader questioned why are the city is asking for $5, stating the last he had heard, the proposal was $2. Mayor Hopkins said he had looked at the figures and with 1,365 households, he felt it would generate approximately $90,000 per year, making note he wasn’t sure if that would be enough. Hopkins stated there are some people that don’t pay and it makes it tough on the ones who do. Councilman John Staggers suggested a deposit to keep people from signing up for utilities and not paying.
Jack Cox, a citizen in attendance, asked to speak. He said he recognized there may be a need to raise rates, but he felt the council should look at ways to cut costs. Cox said he was against a rate increase. He felt if they look hard enough, they can find a place to save money. Cox said he would just move out of town if it gets any higher. “We need to take a look at our spending,” said Cox, saying he believes the city has three loans that they are still paying on and one of them will not be paid off until 2040.
Mayor Hopkins called for a motion on the matter. Councilman Rick Casteel said he felt there should be a study done to determine how much money is needed and how it would be spent. Staggers again suggested finding a way to make everyone pay and charging a deposit on their utilities. Fred Thomas, a citizen, spoke up, saying he comes to most meetings of council and he has heard them talk about the need to raise rates before. “How long are you going to keep doing this? Either do it or don’t.”
Mayor Hopkins again called for a motion, saying this can still be voted down but they need to get it advertised and in the paper. It has to run for a month and then they have to have a public meeting, plus two readings before the vote. His position was if proposed that night, it would still be May or June before it becomes effective, providing it passes. Councilman Probst then made a motion to increase the municipal rate by $5 per month and it was seconded by Jim Richmond. Mayor Hopkins called for a vote and all were in favor.
Three more ordinance changes were up for the first reading-all pertaining to the Paden City Development Authority. First was an ordinance to amend ordinance 153.03 dealing with the appointment, terms, removal, and vacancies of board members. That amendment passed on a roll call vote of five to one with councilman Casteel being the lone “no” vote. Ordinance 153.04 dealing with the qualifications of board members was amended by a vote of four to two, with Casteel and Trader voting against the measure. And an ordinance to amend ordinance 153.06, which deals with the authority to be a public corporation under the name Paden City Development, was defeated by a vote of four to two. Yes votes came from from Richmond and John Staggers. Prior to voting on the amendments, Cox asked that any vote taken concerning the development authority be by roll call.
Council heard committee reports, as follows.
Finance: Approval was given for payment of bills.
Water: Discussion was held concerning water lines running across private property on Third Avenue which need to be replaced. Mayor Hopkins said the lines need to be replaced and he wasn’t sure of the costs but it would mostly be city labor, and would have to be done when the weather breaks.
Sewer: Run off water is still going into the sanitary sewers and separation still needs to be done. Flow meters have identified the problem, which seems to be mostly on the south end of town. There is a 45 percent grant available from the USDA.
Streets: Mayor Hopkins said the culvert project on Seventh Avenue is complete, but there is still major patching to be done throughout town.
Fire Department: Report on the activity was given by Trader.
Police: Activity report was given by Probst.
Cars, Health and Sanitation: Mayor Hopkins discussed two vehicles that may need to be moved from the street because they are not legal. Police Chief Mike Kelley was to look into it.
Buildings and Grounds: It was reported by Trader that the mobile home on Third Avenue was mostly gone and only the frame remained. Probst brought to the attention of council a piece of property close to Donna Edgell which needs attention. He said she brought it to his attention and she is trying to sell her property and wants the city to take steps to get the property right. The condition of the property is making it difficult for her to sell. No action was taken on the matter.
Park and Pool: Trader gave a report on the estimated repairs to the swimming pool. He said it would take around $80,000. Some grant money is available but fund raising is necessary. Mayor Hopkins said fund raising is being set up with the Paden City Foundation. The Park and Pool Commission has presented a lease agreement to the Wetzel County Superintendent of Schools for the use of the park softball and baseball fields for the 2014 seasons. The Thursday night music in the park series was discussed. The park and pool is doing fund raising for the event, $750 has so far been promised by local businesses. It was also approved to renew the park and pool Sam’s club card.
EDA: Financial report was received.
Under old business: There is a need to hire a part-time maintenance worker. It was noted there are still plenty of applications on file from which to choose. Motion was made and seconded to pull the applications and hire from them.
Mayor Hopkins proclaimed June 5, as Municipal Election Day. Motion was made seconded and approved. Mayor and three Councilmen will be up for election.
General fund budget revisions were approved.
Approval was given to advertise the old maintenance truck for sale; it will be advertised in both county papers for two weeks.
Approval was given for two grants for the swimming pool. Resolution for Governor’s Community Grant for $6,000 and Resolution for West Virginia Development Grant for $5,000.
Approval was given to replace the carbon monoxide detector for the city building and to renew the Pestech Contracts for the city building.
It was decided to add a “Children at Play” sign for East Madison Street, prompted by a complaint from a citizen of speeding vehicles. It was also decided to change contracts with AT&T for mobile phones in order to save money.
A request for a variance for a sign on a building (new business) was discussed and it was decided the owner needs to first contact the District 6 DOH.
Minutes from the Jan. 6, regular meeting and the Jan. 23 special meeting were approved.
Meeting was adjourned and the next regular meeting will be March 3 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.