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Belpre City Council approves $6 water rate increase

BELPRE — Belpre water customers will soon see an increase in their monthly water bills.

During its Monday evening meeting, Belpre City Council approved the third reading of an ordinance adding a $6 fee to city water bills.

The purpose of the fee, which will go into a special fund, is to build up a funding reserve to address needed work on the city’s water storage tower and some of its water lines. At this time, the city’s water rates are too low to qualify the city for funding assistance from state or federal sources for those projects.

Under the fee, $4 will go to a special fund for the water tower project and $2 for water lines. The fee increase will not affect sewer rates for the city’s customers.

The third reading on the fee addition passed 4-1 Monday, with Councilmember Donna Miller opposed and councilmembers Dave Ferguson and Penne Riffle absent due to illness.

Council also passed third reading of an amendment to its junk vehicle ordinance by the same vote.

The ordinance drew criticism and concern from residents attending Monday’s meeting. Several people expressed concerns that the language in the ordinance is too restrictive and might place an undue burden on people with low or fixed incomes trying to finance costly vehicle repairs within the 60-day time limit in the ordinance or those needing repairs for which parts and services might be delayed.

Council members supporting the amendment contended the ordinance would not affect vehicles which are properly licensed, registered and insured despite their inoperable status. The amendment approved Monday only seeks to clarify language in the ordinance which has been in place since 2002, they said.

In other business, council also approved the third reading of an ordinance approving the edition and inclusion of certain ordinance as parts of the various component codes of the codified ordinances of Belpre passed and an ordinance authorizing all actions necessary to formally accept a Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) grant issued to the city.

Council approved the second readings of ordinances approving rates set by the county auditor’s office and to remove restrictive covenants property west of Farson Street where the medical center has been developed and continues to grow. The third readings will take place at a future council meeting.

Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance to approve a contract with the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department Inc. to provide emergency medical services for the city of Belpre. Additional readings will take place at future council meetings.

Council’s Finance Committee will begin holding a series of committee meetings at 6:30 pm. Nov. 8, 15, 22 and 29 to begin work on the city’s 2022 budget.

Belpre’s Trick or Treat will be 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Wayne Towner can be reached at wtowner@newsandsentinel.com

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