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Leetonia council approves coronavirus-related legislation

LEETONIA — Village council this week approved four pieces of legislation as emergencies after the COVID pandemic prevented meeting last month.

Council approved a resolution of amending the appropriations for this year in response to projected revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The amended appropriations cuts approximately $60,000 from the budget, including $20,000 for street projects, $20,000 from the general fund for equipment and $19,000 total from police for payroll, gasoline and equipment.

Fiscal Officer Randy Chismar noted at the last meeting RITA, which handles income tax collection for the village, is projecting a $55,000 decrease in income tax plus $150,000 delayed with deferred tax returns. Further decreases in tax revenue includes the Gas Tax, he said, which would significantly affect the village.

In other business, council also authorized Chismar to create funds for Waterline Capital Improvement and Sanitary Sewer Improvement based on the recommendation of Mayor Kevin Siembida in reference to future utility infrastructure projects that will cost the village millions of dollars.

Siembida had addressed the issue earlier this year, suggesting council create the line items in the budget based on the wastewater asset management plan. At the time, he said council needs to start planning for the replacement of the 100-year-old lines, which will be a multi-million dollar project. He said currently the village has a capital expenditure fund for five- to 10-year short term projects, but needs to revise the rate ordinance to adjust the percentage of the water bill going into the fund to earmark a percentage of that money for the new line items, assuming there will be no grants for the project.

Additionally, council approved a three-year contract to provide fire protection to Fairfield Township effective March 16 at an annual cost of $35,000 and set the date for the first payment at June 1. The contract had originally called for the first payment to be made by April 15, but had been changed to May 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for the council to meet.

Siembida also reported the Salem Township trustees will meet soon to discuss the township’s fire contract with the village. The contract expired March 2, but the village has continued to run calls as needed until a new contract can be negotiated.

Also at the meeting, council approved an ordinance adopting a Families First Coronavirus Response Act policy in reference to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and sick leave federal guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance continues through Dec. 31.

Council approved all the legislation as emergencies on their second readings after technical difficulties left council short of the number of members needed to pass them as emergencies earlier this month.

Siembida thanked the beautification committee which generated $1,000 in donations for hanging flower pots that will be put up in downtown.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 3 via GoToMeeting, with the link to be released prior to the meeting.

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