Belpre discusses billing plans

Belpre City Council members, from left, Judith Drake, Donna Miller and Susan Abdella review legislation during Monday’s meeting at the Belpre Municipal Building. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

BELPRE –The second reading of an ordinance which will institute soft billing for emergency and non-emergency services by the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department was passed by Belpre City Council at Monday’s meeting.

Passed unanimously, the ordinance will come back before council for one more reading at a future council meeting.

Officials said the purpose of the ordinance is to provide a way to collect insurance money that is paid to a homeowner on top of their other insurance coverage for runs to fires or emergencies. The amount that is billed is the amount the insurance company would pay to the landowner or to the fire department for those services and is already part of what the landowner pays for as part of their insurance.

According to Law Director Tom Webster, if there is no billing to the insurance company for that money, it doesn’t get paid to anyone. It’s an obligation of the policy to pay it but if nobody bills it, it just stays in the insurance company’s coffers, he said.

Under the soft billing ordinance, if a person doesn’t have insurance they will not receive a bill. The money will go into the city’s general fund. The ordinance includes a schedule of fees for each type of run and service provided.

In other business, council unanimously approved the second and third readings of a resolution approving the supplemental appropriations for 2018-2019.

Council also approved the first reading of a resolution for a joint project with the Ohio Department of Transportation, with two readings coming at future meetings. Safety-Service Director Ron Cross said ODOT plans to upgrade the traffic signals at Ohio 7 and Braun Road, Ohio 7 and Farson Street and Ohio 618 and Lee Street. The cost is still to be determined by an engineering study, but it will be a 90-10 percent split with the city of Belpre responsible for the 10 percent, he said.

No timeline on the project is available but it should be done sometime in 2019, he said.

Council member Elmer Lee Shutts scheduled a parks and recreation committee meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss proposed park repair and renovation projects for the future. Abdella called for a finance committee meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 to discuss temporary appropriations.