Council approves ordinance for online payments

EAST LIVERPOOL — With legislation approved Monday night by City Council, paying utility and income tax bills could soon be more streamlined for residents.

By a unanimous vote, and under suspension of rules, council approved ordinances authorizing the mayor to enter into agreements with companies that will establish programs with the city for payment of water, sewer and income tax bills online, with credit or debit cards.

The tax office plans to contract with Official Payments Corporation, while the utilities department will work with MunicPay to set up the services, which will include a small fee for such transactions.

While the tax commissioner has said only online credit and debit cards will be accepted in her office, Utilities Director Tim Clark told council Monday night that customers will have the capability of swiping their cards outside the water office for utility bills but, in both cases, city employees will not be handling any credit or debit cards.

In other residential services news, Service-Safety Director Brian Allen reported the first bulk trash pickup bills including the new $5 increase recently were sent to customers, and a mailer will be sent with the next bill explaining the new service in detail.

Allen said it is hoped the bulk pickup service will begin at the first of 2017, when residents will be able to set out anything at their curb once a month to be picked up.

Although he is still working with the landfill about what can and cannot be disposed of, Allen said it appears almost anything except computers and chemicals will be accepted.

There will be no limit on how much a household can set out on bulk pickup days, Allen said in response to a question by Councilman Ernest Peachey.

Allen also announced that health Commissioner Carol Cowan was successful in securing a $20,000 grant for the city with which the entrance to the city near Church Street will be cleaned up.

Police Chief John Lane reported that he has decided to have a dispatcher on duty at all times rather than having police officers fill in on the desk when needed as has been done in the past.

According to Lane, “It’s just not getting done right” when officers take over dispatching duties, primarily due to them not doing the work on a regular enough basis to be accustomed to the more complicated equipment and methods now in use.

He said having an officer answering calls is affecting not only the police officers on the street but the fire department and St. Clair Township police officers for whom the city dispatches.

One dispatcher resigned last week, and Lane said a part-timer will be moving up to full time, meaning he will have to hire another part-time dispatcher.

This will cost more from his budget, Lane acknowledged, saying he isn’t certain how much more at this time.

In other legislative matters Monday, council approved two resolutions authorizing the city auditor to seek approval from the state auditor to establish two new funds.

The drug awareness education fund will be for donations collected for a proposed program for the schools, and the urban re-development tax increment equivalent fund is in connection to the New Castle School of Trades project, to allow funds paid in lieu of taxes to be used for development projects.

Auditor Marilyn Bosco said, if the state approves creation of the new funds, she will then have to ask council to approve their creation in a second legislative step.

Council also approved again the ordinance establishing wages and benefits for non-union employees which had been approved at the last meeting after Bosco discovered a typographical error in the original document.

At the request of Councilman Bill Hogue, who presided over the meeting in the absence of President of Council John Torma, council voted to send a letter of thanks to the RIDE group for its financial assistance for the paving of River Road.

Hogue said the city is grateful to the businesses involved in the non-profit organization and “encourages others to follow their example.”

Committee meetings called include finance at 3 p.m. Nov. 15; parks and recreation at 5 p.m. Nov. 16; and utilities and franchise at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16.