The Belington City Council received criticism from the city's fire chief in Thursday's council meeting regarding the board's decision to award $5,000 donations to the Belington Emergency Squad and Belington Board of Parks and Recreation.
In the July 5 meeting, council presented two separate checks worth $5,000 each to the Belington organizations. Belington Fire Chief Phil Hart attended Thursday's meeting to express his disappointment with council for not including the Belington Volunteer Fire Department among the list of donation recipients.
"I'd just like to express my disappointment on behalf of the fire department that with the surplus money that you never found it in your kindness to share any of that with the fire department," Hart said. "I would just like to ask next time if there is a surplus that you consider the fire department. It's been several years since we received funding from the city."
In response to Hart's requests, Belington Mayor Jody Haller said, "Phil I can understand your concern. Maybe you and some of your members feel like it was a slap in the face toward you and your department. It was a decision made by council, actually finance committee, and council and myself."
The city of Belington includes a $2 residential fee in water bills to support the Belington Volunteer Fire Department. A $5 fee is added to the water bill of Belington businesses, and that money also is placed directly into the fire department's funds.
Haller said although the city did not give a donation to the fire department, it is still working to support the fire department by collecting the monthly fees.
"We need supplemental funding too, and all we are asking is if there is a surplus please consider us next time," Hart said.
In other business, council was forced to remove an outraged Belington citizen from council chambers during the meeting.
During the public comment period, Dale Fertig, a self-proclaimed 99-year-old, said the city owed him for a water bill.
"I'm here because you owe me money," Fertig said. "Sixteen months ago on my water bill for March 1, 2011, my average usage for that time would have been 2,035 gallons. The water commissioner got a hold of the bill and he added 5,000 gallons of water to my water bill and then proceeded to try to make me pay for it. I didn't pay for it. I didn't owe it."
Fertig said his son tried to help by mailing the city a check for the total amount, but when Fertig found out about his son's actions he insisted on paying him back.
"There's no use of me talking to you anymore about it. You've got the facts. I want my money," Fertig said.
"You were offered a hearing through Public Service Commission. ... You failed to show up for your hearing," Haller replied. "As far as the city reimbursing you, it's not going to happen. That was water that flowed through that meter."
Haller then requested two members from the city police to remove Fertig from the council's chambers after Fertig told the mayor to "shut up" and began interrupting him.
Also during the meeting, council approved the removal of three trees posing a possible hazard in the city. The Dogwood Tree Service from Elkins will remove a large pine tree on Third Street, a cherry tree on Third Street and a maple tree on Adams Street for a total of $2,150.