Bath Council passes snow ordinance, hears report on town police activity
An ordinance amending the current town snow removal law was passed unanimously by Bath Town Council at the March 19 meeting.
Ordinance 2007-02 amends the town code by adding set fees for violations.
Now, property owners will be accessed a $100 fine after 24 hours if the sidewalks adjacent to their property have not been cleared of snow, ice and debris. The fine will be assessed each day that snow, ice and debris accumulates and is not removed.
In addition, a $50 charge per man-hour will be charged to property owners if town workers are called in to clear the sidewalks.
The ordinance also states property owners are liable for any costs associated with collection of outstanding fines or fees.
Council member Nancy Harvey went to Charleston last week to accept a grant of $6,000 from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office.
Harvey also received a letter from Governor Joe Manchin commending Harvey for her work and that of the Bath Historic Landmarks Commission.
"I am very pleased that this project is proceeding, and I want you to know that this endeavor has my interest and complete support," Manchin wrote.
Mayor Susan Webster also commended Harvey, saying: "Someone had to take the bull by the horns on this project and run with it. And you have done it!"
Foxglove Garden Club
Cory Belton, president of the Foxglove Garden Club, asked council to help with the sprinkler system that waters the Fairfax Street green in front of the courthouse. The club takes care of the flowers and plants on the plot.
The electrical service to the sprinkler system had to be rewired after the courthouse fire. The outlet is exposed, allowing anyone to unplug the system. This causes the timer for the sprinkler system to get out of sync, requiring a technician to come from Hagerstown to reprogram the timer. The cost to the club is $97 per service call.
Councilman Kenny Easton said he would look at the wiring and see what could be done to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
The Morgan County Master Gardeners Plant Fair will be held in Berkeley Springs State Park on Friday, May 11 from noon to 6 p.m. and on Saturday, May 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Master Gardener Dick Williams spoke to council about parking issues. He asked that the meters on the south side of Fairfax Street next to the park be reserved for vendors on those days.
Council felt it would be unfair to local businesses to lose those parking spaces for two days.
Easton suggested the meters be blocked off for a few hours to allow vendors to unload the first day, and again the next day to pack up after the event. Mayor Webster suggested the Master Gardeners talk to CNB about using their lot for overnight parking.
Council decided to block off the parking meters on Fairfax Street from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on May 11 to allow vendors to unload, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on May 12 for venders to pack up. Master Gardeners were asked by council to provide signs to be placed on the meters.
Police Chief Jim Minton reported that many street signs in town are missing.
Councilman Easton put the number of missing signs at about 22. Council directed Easton to get estimates for replacing any missing signs, sign holders and poles.
Minton said all parking violators with three or more unpaid tickets have been located and have paid their fines.
Two additional loading zones have been established on Independence Street between S&S Network Consultants and the Ice House, and on Congress Street beside the Nature Niche, he said.
Minton said there had been 20 K-9 vehicle searches since the K-9 Unit went into operation. Eighteen of those searches turned up illegal substances.
Commenting on K-9 vehicle searches, Minton said, "Every vehicle we stop is for some other reason. We only request a K-9 vehicle search if the officer suspects something else is going on."
Minton said that when the dog is on foot patrol, no parked vehicles or passersby are being targeted for searches.
He added that people should be careful when purchasing a used car. "You never know what the previous owner was doing in the car," he said.
One vehicle search found a trace of marijuana in a used car that the owner had purchased the day before. The driver was not cited, but was warned to clean the inside of the vehicle.
"It's simple. If you don't have drugs in the car. you won't have a problem," Minton said.
Town Recorder Garnet Marsh and Clerk Margie Allgyer have been researching the current health insurance policy for town employees. They are comparing the town's policy with the health insurance that the county has for their employees.
"We are looking at this with the best interests of town employees in mind," said Allgyer.
The Town of Paw Paw has already joined the county insurance plan and Marsh and Allgyer are trying to determine if this makes sense for the Town of Bath.
Marsh also announced that beginning with the start of the next fiscal year in July, town employees will be paid every other week.
Councilman Dale Lutman asked if town employees had been notified of the change. "No," Marsh said, "but that is why I am putting it out there now."
Town budget announced
Marsh, filling in for Finance Committee chairman David Crosby who was on vacation, presented the draft budget to council.
Marsh said the $663,685 budget is 10% higher than last year. The budget was adopted by council and must now be approved by the State Auditor.
By state law, the council must meet on the third Tuesday in April to officially adopt the levy rates to be used for property taxes. Therefore, the council meeting scheduled for Monday, April 16 was moved to Tuesday, April 17.
Matt Fleehardy of Thrasher Engineering presented council with a change order for $32,370, a compilation of the cost of unexpected changes that have been made to the waterline project thus far.
Council approved payment from the contingency fund that was included in the project funding.
Fleehardy reported that 69% of the project was complete. Some 14,851 feet of the total 17,658 feet of pipe has been installed and tested. There have been 141 new meters installed and 76 are in service.
This week's pipeline work will be crossing U. S. 522 at Congress, Independence and Williams streets.