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Smith resigns from South Point council

First reading held on raising water rates

SOUTH POINT — The South Point village council now has a vacancy that will need to be filled.

Chris Smith, who has been on the council for nine years, turned in his resignation to the council and Mayor Jeff Gaskin prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.

In a post on his Facebook page, Smith said it was in order to focus more on his professional life and his current enrollment in Ohio University.

Smith said it was “a long and difficult decision.”

“I have faith in the leadership of the community and know they will make the right decisions for the betterment of all in our community and it’s future,” he said.

Gaskin said the council has 30 days to fill the vacancy. After that, the appointment falls to the mayor.

The next meeting of the council is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, which falls inside the 30-day window. It was moved forward one day, as the usual first Tuesday of the month falls on Election Day.

Tuesday’s meeting of council took place at South Point First Church of the Nazarene, in order to accommodate social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Temperatures were checked at the door and masks were worn by all, other than those speaking.

Of the remaining five members of council, four were present in person, while Marlene Arthur took part via teleconference.

The council had the first of three readings to raise the water rate for residential customers by $2.50 a month.

As Gaskin pointed out, this would be the first increase in four years.

Fiscal officer Mark Davidson said this would help to cover costs for water projects in coming years, such as the requirement for soil boring around railroads.

The council also voted to approve the 2021 budget, which Gaskin said could be revised to “move things around during the year, as needed.”

The council also discussed the matter of $162,516 in COVID-19 relief funds from the state of Ohio.

After discussion over whether the funds would go to pay for quarantine time for police officers or for utility workers, the discussion moved on. At the end of the meeting, Gaskin said the funds would be split three ways to pay salaries for police, fire and utility workers.

Gaskin said the village is getting advice from the auditor’s office and the state on how the funds can be legally spent, so they will not have to be paid back.

In other business, the council:
• Voted to add the mayor and police chief to the village credit card list.
• Discussed an ordinance prohibiting gatherings on the Solida Road overpass of U.S. 52. In recent weeks, the overpass has been the site of demonstrations in support of President Donald Trump and his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. The proposal would have set a $100 fine for violations. After discussions with the police department on difficulties of enforcing the ban, the matter was tabled.
• Heard from village administrator Russ McDonald, who said the village pumped 18 million gallons of water in the past month, with no main breaks, and 23 million gallons of sewage.
McDonald said the water usage was still a concern and these were “crazy numbers.” He said he still favors the implementation of water meters in the village.
• Was reminded by McDonald that the village’s fall clean up is set for Oct. 26-30. He said residents can leave items out for pick up by crews.
• Heard from fire chief Mark Goodall, who said the department’s pancake fundraiser was well attended. He said the village will be taking part in a drug takeback event on Oct. 31, with details to be announced.
• Set Trick or Treat time for the village for 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. Council member Brad Adkins wanted to remind those taking part to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and follow health guidelines regarding to COVID-19.