WEST ALEXANDRIA — Village Council discussed uses for CARES Act funding, and continued to debate passing controversial nuisance ordinance legislation, during its regular monthly meeting Monday, Sept. 21.
Council held a special meeting Wednesday, Sept. 9 to discuss possible uses for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The village must earmark approximately $74,000 in funds by Dec. 31 or risk having to return those funds to the county.
Council president Ashley Myers suggested creating a relief fund during the Sept. 9 meeting to help residents pay past-due utility bills incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown. This would require setting up an application and approval process, according to Myers and village solicitor Aaron Glasgow, as well as creating a volunteer committee to evaluate applications and disseminate funds.
Council voted unanimously to create a Utility and Housing Relief Fund during last Monday’s meeting, as well as to waive the customary second and third readings (which would have taken place during subsequent monthly meetings) needed to adopt the measure. The fund will be administered by a three-person committee; select residents who are able to show evidence of economic hardship incurred because of Covid-19 will be eligible to receive a maximum of $3,200 per household.
Purchase orders totaling $39,183.34 in CARES-related expenditures were also approved by council, including orders of touchless soap and paper towel dispensers to be installed at facilities including the town hall, fire and EMS departments, and the village sewer plant. The equipment is expected to help limit contact with high-touch surfaces that can help spread the coronavirus.
Also during Monday’s meeting:
Council also approved the second reading of a nuisance ordinance that would threaten landlords in the village with legal repercussions if tenants are repeatedly cited for drug-related offenses. As initially discussed during council’s May 18 meeting, this type of legal measure targets crimes that habitually take place at certain properties. Owners of properties found to be in violation typically face a series of warnings and fines, and can even lose the ability to continue renting the property for a period of time.
Council previously approved the first reading of the ordinance during its Aug. 17 meeting.
Council president Myers had questions about the ordinance, including whether local police have tried reaching out to landlords less obtrusively in an effort to curb drug-related offenses taking place at their properties. Police Chief Tony Gasper replied that some success had been achieved using those methods, but that police are currently unable to impose any consequences if landlords fail to act.
“Landlords know when something’s going on. The problem here is they don’t care,” Officer Josh Kaczmarek told the council. “Once they realize they’re gonna lose that rent money for a year, they’ll respond. I promise.”
Myers also took issue with the inclusion of barking dog complaints and other noise violations in the ordinance, which mostly consists of drug violations and other more serious crimes, though Gasper insisted that language in the ordinance clearly distinguishes between penalties for criminal violations and others.
Glasgow, meanwhile, pointed out that while the ordinance imposes fines that, if unpaid, could lead to foreclosure on the property, it does not allow the village to evict residents, nor does it force landlords to do so.
Finally, Tom Smith was sworn in as Assistant Fire Chief by Mayor Jeff Hickey at the request of Fire Chief John Glander.
West Alexandria Village Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the village EMS office located at 8 Marty Lane.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish