At the January 9 regular session of the Montpelier Village Council, Councilor Laura Gray asked Village Director of Finance Kelly Hephner for clarification of potential scam concerns brought to her by village citizens. “Kelly, please explain to the newspapers so they can get it in their papers. I have had two people approach me about the income tax forms that came in the mail. They were afraid that someone was trying to scam them.”
Mrs. Hephner stated that the forms are in fact not only legitimate, but a direct result of the passage of recent legislation in Columbus. “We have contracted with CCA (Central Collection Agency of Cleveland) to do our income tax,” Mrs. Hephner explained. “Everyone should have gotten an income tax form in the mail from them. It is legitimate. It is not a scam. If they are having trouble filling it out, they are still welcome to come up to our office, and we will help. We no longer collect (income taxes); if you send it to our office, we will send it on to Cleveland. The forms are a little more complicated than ours were…but we’ll walk you through it.” Village Manager Kevin Brooks elaborated further, saying, “The impetus for us making this change in outsourcing tax collection was the passage of House Bill 5, which changed the methodology (of tax collection), and we just don’t have the internal resources to handle the collections properly, and we certainly don’t have the audit capabilities that are going to be needed going forward.”
Peggy Rupp asked Council if they had reached a decision on the sale of Henry Street properties, a petition that was originally presented in August. Councilor Gray reported that she had been in contact with the management of the Helping Hands Food Pantry. Located in the House of Prayer, Helping Hands has also expressed an interest in the properties. “The food pantry is absolutely ecstatic with being able to put a garden in. They feel that their clients need fresh vegetables, and it would also give them a space to do some community work. They said that they would have the resources to till it, and to maintain it.” Councilor Nathan Thompson inquired if there were any ordinances on the books that would prohibit this type of agricultural activity, and it was reported that there were no regulations against the proposed gardening. Put to a vote, Council elected by a 3-2 margin to retain the lots, with Councilors Thompson and Dan Willis opposing, and Councilor Chris Kannel abstaining.
As part of the annual organization of Council, Councilor Willis was elected as 2017 Council President. Council approve the appointments for the new Police Dependent’s Board, with Police Department appointees Darrin Repp, Brian Meyers, and Council appointees Dan Clum and Chris Kannel. Council agreed to the appointment of Mr. Brooks to represent Montpelier on the Williams County Board of Health, replacing the resigning Roger Thorp.
Mr. Brooks reported on his meeting with the Montpelier Balloon Festival Committee, noting that there will be an enhanced focus on bringing more traffic to the downtown district. He also reported that the Village is moving forward on the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) and Smart Grid technologies. “We’re going to look at the entire technology. We have a couple presentations scheduled…we don’t anticipate doing anything for six to eight months. we want to take our time, and make sure that we understand everything moving forward. We’re also monitoring other, particularly larger communities that are in the process of implementing the technology. We want to see what some of the issues are that they are facing, also the cost. It’s not cheap…it’s going to be expensive, so we’re going to look into some funding, but we are going forward this week with looking into the Smart Grid technology.”
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org