(Posted Aug. 14, 2020)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
The village of Mount Sterling is once again pressing its residents to clean up their yards and get bills paid.
Tom Hale, the village zoning inspector from West Jefferson who also oversees Mount Sterling, told council on Aug. 10 that the village has sent out letters to several residents.
“We have, probably, five or six violation letters out right now that we’re not getting any response on,” Hale said. “And we have, probably, that many that need to go out based on the nuisance and abatement meeting the other day. I made site visits to the properties.”
Hale said the village is also looking at some commercial properties that are in violation.
“Ultimately, we want to try and avoid litigation,” Hale added, but said if the village continues receiving no response, things may get “intense.”
Councilman Jay Pettey serves on the nuisance and abatement committee for the village and wanted to remind residents to stay in communication with the village.
“We’re not walking around with a meter stick looking to punish you,” he said. “We’re here to help, and if you have any questions about things, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
He encouraged the public to attend the committee’s next meeting on Aug. 17 at 8 a.m.
Utilities clerk, Misty Vance, told village council members that the village’s delinquent list is also growing.
“As of Friday (Aug. 7) morning, we have a total of $24,000 on 80 accounts,” Vance said. “People on the list are on payment plans, and we know that some people are struggling due to COVID and are out of work.”
Vance reminded council members that residents can still drop off payments seven days a week despite the office window only being open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We have had quite a few people switch over to paying online, and I’ve been told that is appreciated,” Vance said. “It does cost $2.75 to use a debit or credit card online or pay in the office.”
As the village looks to the end of the current fiscal year and toward the budgeting process due at the end of the year, fiscal officer, Courtney Bricker, said the village is doing well.
“All funds are in the positive and they are in good standing,” Bricker said. “With the appropriation status, we are below budget with what we thought we were going to appropriate in 2020.”
Bricker said income tax is down for the village due to COVID-19 but the village did receive federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress. Although the federal money can only be used for certain purchases, council approved a measure to create a COVID-related fund to be part of the Unified Accounting Network (UAN) per the Ohio Auditor of State and the village’s fiscal state of emergency.
In other news, council approved an ordinance allowing the village to accept the annual money allocated to municipalities by the county. Mount Sterling is receiving $56,279, similar to Plain City and West Jefferson.
Council passed four resolutions creating water and sewer capital improvement funds and reserve water and sewer funds. The newly created funds allow the fiscal officer to designate incoming paid utilities bills into these funds and keep clearer records for the UAN.