Work Together For Future of Bellaire
I would like to respond to the ongoing editorials regarding the condition of the Village of Bellaire.
As the former village administrator, I have tried my best to stay out of things, and have been reminded by a current member of the administration that I take things too personal when it comes to the village, to which I replied, that I did not believe that he took things personal enough!
First, being a mayor, councilperson, on a finance position, or any administrative position in any of the villages or cities across the Ohio Valley is tough. It comes down to having the finances to accomplish daily operations.
Without having business or industry, you don’t have the tax base. You can only rely on the tax payers, or lessen or eliminate the service you provide.
As for the facts; I will be speaking in generalities, due to the fact that I have not attended council meetings, or, for the most part have not spoken to any Bellaire public officials regarding these issues out of respect to the current administrator.
With the ongoing editorials alluding to “perhaps” wrongdoing with past administrations or employees, and as I can only speak to my two years as the village administrator, I can attest that when I took over as administrator, the same problems existed as what is being discussed now. However, when I left office in March of 2015, the Enterprise Fund which oversees water, garbage, village buildings, sewers, and streets, had a $600,000 carryover. It was the General Fund that was always being critiqued, not the Enterprise Funds.
As to be fair, when I retired in March of 2015, there was still a great deal yet to be done. Council members should remember, we discussed many many times that if we could get the money truck to back up to our door, and drop off millions of dollars we could fix the problems. We knew what the problems were, but all cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. We tried to live within our budget. By doing so, it took longer to dig out of the hole. Additionally, with the ongoing water/EPA issues in Bellaire, this continues to cause nothing less than a constant drain on budgets.
As for some of the statements coming from on council regarding billing, or how decisions were made, I must remind each of the old council members, most of you were on committees, or the old Water Board that received weekly updates on water, garbage billing and container conditions and rates from the Water Office, and you also were part of the past administrations that created some of the language being used to oversee these billings. Looking back, some of the current council members, spent many, many hours in the Utilities Committee meetings, discussing these same issues. They are not new, and I am sure if you go back and look at meetings’ minutes, this can be confirmed.
Moving forward, I do have concerns with what I read in the papers. There seems to be a great deal of passing the buck. The task in front of you is nothing different than you have faced in the past, but you have to work as a team! Trucks have been broken down, water lines have been broken, hydrants have needed replaced, and none of this is new. I appeal to each old and new council member, mayor, past mayors, finance persons, administrator and the people of Bellaire to come to the table with a plan. We had one- three- and five-year plans developed. These plans were developed by all village parties. When I read that you are waiting for outside organizations to bring you a plan, I am troubled. There is no one better than the current mayor, council, and citizens of Bellaire to develop your own plan, and try to live within your budget, or do what is necessary to survive.
As for the village finances, I have asked a few in the past on council, “Is it the revenue coming in or the expenses going out?” This has to be answered! As a reminder to council you approve expenditures or the paying of the bills. Be transparent with the people of Bellaire.
In conclusion, I wish each of you all the best. This letter was not meant to cause any trouble. Under my watch, the mayor and I tried our best to help and support the citizens of Bellaire. All I am asking is to move forward …. The past is the past, and as long as you dwell on it you will never move forward.