BELPRE - City council passed the final reading of legislation Monday to allow the mayor to enter into a governmental aggregation service agreement for aggregation of natural gas and electric.
The resolution, which allows the mayor to enter into the agreement with Volunteer Energy Services as adviser for two years, corresponds with two pieces of legislation - one for natural gas and the other for electric - that will place the op-out aggregation of the two energy sources on the Nov. 8 ballot for Belpre residents to approve. These ordinances were passed during the July 11 council meeting.
For the third time, Richard Briggs of Underwood Drive spoke to council concerning his opposition to the legislation and the city's involvement in energy aggregation.
Belpre resident Richard Briggs speaks out against the city’s proposed governmental natural gas and electric aggregation for the third meeting in a row during the council meeting Monday night. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
"I have continued and continued to oppose the (legislation)," he said.
Briggs has said that deregulation is necessary to allow aggregation and that he believes a higher customer count leads to a better market.
"I haven't found any significant savings to residents in aggregation, especially in electricity," he said.
Briggs also listed reasons, including how much the certifications to become governmental aggregators will cost the city and if money earned by the city through these endeavors will be passed on to the citizens.
City Law Director Tom Webster asked for a copy of the four-page handout Briggs passed out with his concerns bullet-pointed.
"I would like time to read this and I will get back to you with answers to your questions," he said.
In other business:
City auditor Leslie Pittenger said the state of Ohio's auditor's office listed a few things that the city could change in its income tax laws.
These include rates for penalties, interest and late charges, which the city has at different amounts per how overdue taxes are, should be set at the same amount and that the allocation of funds in the city's ordinance is written incorrectly with the wrong number attributed to the city's general fund.
"We also have $25 registration fees for landlords, contractors and vendors that is to cover potential income tax and they recommended we no longer collect it and remove that section because it's difficult for them to follow," Pittenger said.
Associate City Law Director Jim McCauley said he does not like the idea of dropping the fee because it could mean the city will lose control of the fruit and vegetable stands and other small vendors within the city.
"I don't think it's fair that we charge income tax to everyone, but I think if someone comes in and sets up a stand, we should be getting something from them," he said.
Pittenger acknowledged that the state told her it does not hurt them to leave the issue in or take it out, but they cannot work with it.
The finance committee chose to heed McCauley's advice and keep the vendor fee in.
The first reading of the ordinance will be during the Aug. 8 regular meeting.