MIDDLEPORT — A resolution to place a five-year, three mill tax levy on the November ballot for the purpose of funding the purchase of a new ladder truck for the Middleport Fire Department was passed by a split vote of Middleport Village Council Monday night.
Voting to put the levy before Middleport voters were Council members Emerson Heighton, Craig Wehrung, Rae Moore and Sandy Brown, while Penny Burge and Roger Manley voted against taking it to the voters.
Susan Baker, financial officer, reported that the auditor had certified the amount of revenue the mileage would generate to be $63,223.80, if everyone pays their taxes, to be used for payments on the proposed $850,000 equipped truck.
Fire Chief Jeff Darst met with Council last month to explain the need for a new ladder truck. At that meeting he stressed the importance of Middleport having an aerial ladder truck equipped to serve as a multi-purpose apparatus which can be used for rescue as well as a pumper in emergency situations. He also said that for the owner of a $50,000 home, the levy would cost about $52 a year.
The new truck would be a replacement for the 22-year-old ladder truck now in service.
During the meeting a lengthy discussion was held on the lack of progress on the proposal for the village to assume responsibility for the operation of the Rutland water and sewer system. Negotiations with the Meigs County Commissioners have been ongoing for several months. Currently it appears that the Commissioners are handling the operation and as Mayor Mike Gerlach commented “It strikes me nothing much is happening there.” He was making reference to the negotiations between the County Commissioners and Middleport Council. He noted that there has been no recent communities between the two.
While Middleport Council has agreed to handling the Rutland system under certain financial arrangements, no commitment has been made nor any contract signed, according to Baker. She spoke of the time involved in setting up the plan for the potential takeover of the operation, and said she has viewed it as an opportunity for generating village revenue. She also described the lack of communication from the Commissioners as being a questionable indication as to their position. Councilman Wehrung suggested that in view of the lack of contact from the Commissioners that Council take a wait-and-see position.
As for the development of the vehicle impound lot, it was reported that Mike Hendrickson, building inspector, may have found some grant money to fund the work. While a contractor had been contacted to do the work this spring using village money, Council agreed to apply for the grant and wait to see if outside funding is available, even though it may postpone the work until fall. The mayor reported that Hendrickson has said he is “pretty confident the village will qualify for a grant.” Council was of the consensus that it’s worth waiting to see.
Baker reported that the village has been notified that seven youth workers will be available from the Meigs County Jobs and Family Services for work in the village this summer.
Manley proposed an increase in the water deposit, perhaps to $100, as a way of getting improved payment habits from customers. That would mean those who have their water turned off for non-payment to the village, would have to pay that amount to get it turned back on. No action was taken.
Burge mentioned the numerous signs of a personal nature, like yard and house sales, going up at entrances to the village, and what might be done to discourage that. Many are not subject to village control, she was advised.
The grants from the Health Department for playground improvements was noted, paving issues were discussed with the mayor reporting the village will be looking for funding once Columbia Gas completes digging, and Council voted not to have a second meeting in May because it falls on Memorial Day.