CAMDEN — Village Council finalized its application for a Critical Infrastructure grant and considered policies regarding unpaid utilities at its regularly scheduled meeting May 7.
Council previously discussed policies regarding unpaid water bills in the wake of the ongoing pandemic during its April 16 meeting. Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order prohibiting cities and villages in Ohio from disconnecting water service for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis in late March.
Mayor Karen Moss raised the issue of how to begin enforcing collections on delinquent accounts once the governor’s order is lifted during that meeting, with several council members and administrators claiming that those with current unpaid balances tend to be the same ones who habitually have trouble paying their bills on time.
“The ones that are shut off every month are the ones who haven’t paid,” village fiscal officer Becky Wilson said at that time. Council then discussed possible repayment plans, including breaking up unpaid balances and adding them to residents’ current bills in $25 increments.
Discussion during last week’s meeting focused on setting standards as to who might qualify for such plans, according to Wilson, who claimed it would not be sufficient for residents to merely claim they had been unable to pay their bills due to Covid-19 related economic hardships.
“For anybody that wants a payment plan, they’re going to have to show some paperwork proving that Covid-19 is what caused the hardship,” Wilson said, indicating that an unemployment application demonstrating that residents had lost their jobs due to the pandemic might be sufficient.
Mayor Karen Moss stressed that these issues were only being discussed at the present time, and that no decisions had yet been made regarding a firm policy.
Also during the May 7 meeting:
Council passed a resolution to amend its application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to improve the city’s infrastructure, namely by replacing curbs and storm drains on Camden St. Council passed a resolution to apply for the funds during a previous meeting, according to Wilson, but a new resolution was needed to account for changes in estimated figures needed to complete the project.
Doug Kramer, of Eaton-based civil engineering firm Kramer & Associates, delivered a presentation to council during its Oct. 2019 meeting covering several potential street, sidewalk, and drainage improvement projects being considered by the village, including the Camden St. project. Kramer suggested pursuing a combination of grant and loan funds in order to finance the projects at that time. Council member Kelly Doran made a motion to move forward with the application process at the October meeting, which council unanimously accepted.
Council also voted to postpone sidewalk improvement projects scheduled to begin this Spring due to financial uncertainties related to the Covid-19 crisis.
“We’re going to wait and see where we’re at in the coming months,” Wilson said.
Council moved to make the alley beginning at N. Lafayette St. and extending into the rear Town Hall and U.S. Post Office parking lots one-way, citing “too many almost head-on collisions.”
Council voted to pay Debbie Mason, of Trenton, Ohio-based Tech Force Onsite LLC, a sum of $159 per month to manage the village website and add new information, including minutes of village council meetings. Council previously paid Mason approximately $1,800 to create the new site and transfer over information from the village’s previous website, according to Wilson.
Finally, councilman Kelly Doran proposed an ordinance specifying that residents bring in garbage cans in a timely fashion after Tuesday morning trash pick-up.
“People are leaving the cans out for days, and they’re in people’s way,” Wilson said.
Village Council will restrict its regular meetings to the first Thursday of each month until further notice, according to the Mayor, though a special meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, June 18. Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will take place Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish