Meeting Minutes (11-1-21)
The Council of the Village of Woodsfield
November 1, 2021
The Council of the Village of Woodsfield met in Regular Session on November 1, 2021.
I. Roll Call:
Present: Council Members; Dale English, Tom Kirkland, Anthony McDaniel, Jamie Hill, Carol Hehr, D. Ray Hughes; Mayor Mike Ricer, Village Administrator Kevin Brooks, Fiscal Officer Lori Cunard.
II. Pending Meeting Minutes Approval:
Councilman Jamie Hill made a motion to accept the October 18, 2021 meeting minutes. Carol Hehr second. Motion passed 6-0.
III. Registered Visitors/Guest:
IV. Old Business:
Councilman Ray Hughes asked Councilwoman Carol Hehr if she got the Nativity scene ordered and she replied that she did.
V. Administrator Report:
Village Administrator Kevin Brooks reported that the Power Supply review with AMP has been completed as of last week and the Village energy portfolio looks very good. We are projected for the next five years to have declining energy rates. The Village got in on some very good contracts at an advantageous time and we have locked power costs through 2027. We are still looking at power costs through 2029 and into 2030 but through 2027 the Village will be doing very well. The Village has reduced expenses and increased revenues. Peak shaving has been a success and the diesels are running well. Mr. Brooks will send Council members the power generation re-cap which he just received an electronic copy on Friday.
Kevin Brooks also reported on the rate analysis of water/sewer that he will also send out to Council members. Mr. Brooks stated that there is still work to do with E. L. Robinson but there will be an Ordinance needed to amend the water/sewer rates due to on-going issues with significant long-term debt and we really need to try and retire some of it as was mentioned in the audit. Mr. Brooks said that if Council would like for Bob Allen, E. L. Robinson to come in and explain the report and how they arrived at the thresholds that they did, it can definitely be arranged. There are proposed rate increases for 2022 through 2026. At the end of 2025 Mr. Brooks would like to do another evaluation to see if the recommendations are working and that we are accomplishing what we want to accomplish. The Village does have some debt that will be rolling off in 2025 but some will be with the Village until 2050. Mr. Brooks said there really needs to be a hard look at the rate structure because for years the rates have not been adjusted and operating costs continue to go up, we have taken on a lot of long-term debt, and we still have significant infrastructure that needs to be replaced. Kevin Brooks stated that on-going costs, on-going improvements to the system, and the long-term debt have all been factored into the analysis. Councilman Ray Hughes asked if water loss was also accounted for, and Kevin Brooks replied that it was. Mr. Brooks went on to say that we are stabilized as far as water loss but there are still issues with leaks and a lot of repairs needing to be done. Also, Phase 1 and Phase 2 on the long-term control plan needs to move forward along with the lower reservoir so the Village has an adequate water supply which would allow us to vacate the Rubel Lake property. The Rubel Lake property needs multi-millions of dollars’ worth of work for it to be ODNR compliant. Councilman Ray Hughes spoke up and said that he already pays more for water than he does for electric. Mr. Brooks said that in the analysis there were comparisons done with other Villages and towns in the area and we are competitive with those around us. He stated that we either adjust the rates or add on a debt service to each utility bill which would need to be $40.00 – $50.00 in order to pay down the long-term debt aggressively and he doesn’t think anyone would go for that, it’s not realistic. He wants Council to remember when looking at the analysis, understand the logic that was used and that it is to fix a lot of problems that were inherited and to come into compliance. Councilwoman Carol Hehr asked if the Village could sell the Ruble Lake property. Village Administrator said that we absolutely can sell the property but there are certain things we need
to do to get it in compliance with ODNR even before we sell. Councilman Jamie Hill asked if it could be drained, and Mr. Brooks stated we are working on that. ODNR is working with the Village through an action plan rather than putting us under findings and orders. Mr. Brooks also explained that even though we are doing very well in other areas, such as the electric department, under government accounting we can’t take money from electric department or any other department to fix a water problem. Each department must generate enough revenue to cover their own expenses. Councilwoman Carol Hehr asked if we could wait until the sale of the Rubel Lake property before we raise any rates and Mr. Brooks replied that it’s not that easy of a fix, there is just too much debt in the
water and sewer departments, work needs done on the lower reservoir for adequate water supply, and as he stated earlier the Rubel Lake property would have to be made compliant before any sale. Carol Hehr also asked if the Village has applied for grants that are being offered in the State of Ohio and Mr. Brooks said yes and part of the criteria with applying is they look at our rates, these funding agencies will not help us if we refuse to help ourselves. We are trying to apply for grant dollars rather than match dollars because we just don’t have the funds in the water department to match funds of a grant. We are particularly looking at EPA funding opportunities that are principal forgiveness. Mr. Brooks stressed to Council to look at the numbers, they have the Water department fund balances in front of them, the department is struggling because of mistakes that were made in the past and never addressed and it is time to deal with it. Council will need to be prepared to make a decision on the rates.
VI. Fiscal Officer Report:
Lori Cunard stated that there is an Ordinance in front of Council to Amend and Revise some line-items in the appropriations of expenditures as an emergency. Village Administrator Kevin Brooks spoke up and said that some corrections have been made to the budget. We do still need to meet with departments to discuss some capital purchases for 2022 which we will be scheduling soon. He also asked to have a meeting on Friday morning with the Finance Committee, which is Dale, Tom and Jamie, to discuss wages. The last wage increase was January 2020. It was said at that time that wages would be looked at again after 18 months but that did not happen because we were working through some financial issues. The issues have been addressed so Mr. Brooks feels wages need to be reviewed. Mr. Brooks stated that regardless of what Council decides, whether an increase is approved or not, it needs to be communicated with the staff. He did remind Council that a 3% increase of wages was budgeted for in 2021 and if a pay increase is approved it would be an adjustment to the 2022 budget. Mr. Brooks also said we have some reclassification of staff to stay competitive in our area, but he would talk about that more with Finance Committee during the meeting on Friday morning.
Lori Cunard will be emailing the temporary appropriations budget to Council members but keep in mind that it is ever changing because we are still moving money around and we still have some capital purchases.
Mayor Mike Ricer then asked for a motion to approve Ordinance #1303-2021, Providing for Amending and Revising Specific Line-Items in the Appropriations of Expenditures for the Village of Woodsfield for the Calendar Year 2021 as an emergency measure. Let it be noted: A motion to suspend the three-reading rule and pass this Ordinance was made, seconded and passed with 6 affirmative votes. Ray Hughes made the motion. Tom Kirkland second the motion. Ray Hughes – Yes, Tom Kirkland – Yes, Dale English – Yes, Anthony McDaniel – Yes, Jamie Hill – Yes, Carol Hehr – Yes. Motion passed 6-0.
VII. Committee Chair/Council Reports:
Dale English – Councilman Dale English is calling for a Finance Committee on Friday, November 5th at 8:00 a.m. Village Administrator Kevin Brooks asked Lori Cunard to post the notice for the meeting.
Tom Kirkland – Nothing to report
Anthony McDaniel – Nothing to report
Jamie Hill – Nothing to report
Carol Hehr – Nothing to report
Ray Hughes – Nothing to report
VIII: Solicitor’s Report:
IX: Mayor’s Report:
Mayor Mike Ricer reported that there were 2 donations made to the Police Department. The Pythian Sisters donated $100.00 and the VFW donated $1,000.00. He will talk to Chief Jones to see what this can be best used for. The Mayor asked Lori Cunard to please send Thank you cards.
The Mayor asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Jamie Hill made the motion. Anthony McDaniel second the motion. Motion passed 6-0.
The Mayor asked for a motion to approve the Mayor’s Court Report, October, 2021. Dale English made the motion. Carol Hehr second the motion. Motion passed 6-0.
The Mayor asked for a motion to approve the Income Tax Report, October, 2021. Village Administrator Kevin Brooks noted that Income Tax has fallen behind this year compared to last but hopefully with the ODOT construction starting next spring we will see an increase again for 2022. Tom Kirkland made the motion. Ray Hughes second the motion. Motion passed 6-0.
X. Un-Registered Visitors:
Council discussed the time allowed to speak for visitors. After some discussion, it was asked a motion be made to allow Registered visitors to speak for 5 minutes and Un-registered visitors will be allowed to speak for 2 minutes. Jamie Hill made the motion. Anthony McDaniel second the motion. Motion passed 6-0.
Councilman Anthony McDaniel made the motion to Adjourn from Session. Ray Hughes second the motion. Motion passed 6-0. Meeting adjourned at 7:16 p.m.
Michael E. Ricer, Mayor Lori Cunard, Fiscal Officer