CIRCLEVILLE — For the first time in a few months, the Circleville City Council will have their meeting with the public present.

David Crawford, city council president, has announced that the July 7 service committee, meeting at 6 p.m., and the July 7 city council meeting at 7 p.m. will be held in Starkey Pavilion at Mary Virginia Crites Hannan Park. The meetings will be open to the public in an effort to get public input on a proposed sewer and water rate change and other general feedback.

City council has been meeting via teleconference since March when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a stay-at-home order and closed many businesses and offices to foot traffic.

City council has had opportunities for the public to address them via a phone number provided during the council meetings and via email, but that method doesn’t allow for clarification or acknowledgement that a question was answered.

“People can email the council members and during the council meeting, they can call the open phone line we have, but that lacks the real time conversation,” Crawford said. “Anytime water and sewer rates are a topic, we get a lot of input and that method certainly wouldn’t work for this.”

Crawford said there are challenges to having the meeting in council chambers, which is why they’ve been reluctant to host the meetings there.

“We can’t social distance enough there and have all the people we need in the room and the public,” he explained. “Until that time, we’ll continue meeting via teleconference and will have meetings at the pavilion until we get some clearance, we can go back into council chambers. We want to get back to meeting publicly, but the room we have isn’t large enough to accommodate everyone who needs to be there.”

Terry Frazier, service director, said an outside firm would be presenting their study and findings on a potential water and sewer hike. From there, the service committee could then make a recommendation to city council.

Any recommendation or legislation passed in that service meeting wouldn’t then be voted on again until another council meeting at a later date, Crawford added.

“It’s for transparency, it would be too easy to slide something through the process and people would never have a hint you’re doing it, so we don’t,” he mentioned. “It’s not the rules, but it’s a policy we’ve adhered to as long as I’ve been president.”

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