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Columbiana government still in business

Morning Journal/Scott Lendak City council held its first official meeting on Zoom this week, as they followed all of the guidelines to ensure they were in direct compliance with the law. City officials, and the Journal reporter, are in the top two rows. Other people linked in, plus Municipal Attorney Mark Hutson, are in the lower rows.

COLUMBIANA — In order to keep the city informed, City Manager Lance Willard announced that the city has continued to update the public on COVID-19 through the city website at this week’s city council meeting. New memos have been posted, as they are trying to keep it as active as possible.

From splitting shifts to separating crews, each department has made adjustments to account for social distancing. Willard said with such small departments, it makes it even more important to have everyone healthy and available.

In other business, since Gov. Mike DeWine has extended the state and local tax income filing deadlines, residents have until July 15 to get on the RITA website and pay. Willard said they encourage people to go on the website beforehand and look for their estimated quarterly payments to be prepared.

Similarly, because the April utility bills were not sent out until April 3, the deadline has been extended to April 30. Payments can be made at the drive-up drop box, by regular mail, through the bank or online for free. Due to COVID-19, the online fee has been waived until further notice.

The ongoing stormwater FEMA project is still moving forward, and council approved the first reading of an ordinance that allows Willard to enter into a contract with Howells and Baird, Inc., civil engineers and surveyors, for the purpose of providing the engineering services for the project. Willard cautioned that after getting into this project for a few weeks, there is a possibility it will get shut down, as the current situation is unpredictable.

Willard added that the ODOT Phase 1 project in Firestone Park is expected to continue. It is scheduled to start just after Easter and completed within 90 days. Willard selected Dallis Dawson to inspect the project.

“That contractor wants to start and get it done as soon as possible,” Willard said. “So, whenever ODOT gives us the green light, we’re going to move forward with that. And without any setbacks, we believe we can be done with that within 90 days.”

In an attempt to ensure that first responders are available when residents are in need, council adopted an emergency resolution to adopt the Families First Coronavirus Response Act policy, family and medical leave expansion and emergency sick leave policy. The personnel policy includes police, fire, electric, water, wastewater, street, utilities and cemetery.

The council meeting was officially held on Zoom for the first time this week, and the Planning Commission meeting on April 14 will be held on Zoom as well, but attendees will have to register in advance to prevent any security breaks. Anyone wanting to attend will have to access the log-in information on the agenda on the city website and register by giving name, phone number and some other information.

The next regularly scheduled city council meeting will be 7 p.m. April 21 on Zoom. The log-in details will be posted to the city website at https://columbianaohio.gov.

slendak@mojonews.com

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