Monroe reopening Community Room at library, with COVID-19 restrictions

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

Monroe City Council has approved reopening the Community Room at the city-owned Monroe Lending Library.

The council’s Public Involvement Committee recommended opening the room for small community meetings of 10 people or fewer and requiring visitors to follow COVID-19 precautions.

The Community Room has a capacity of 150 people for meetings or other gatherings. The closure in March has forced groups to go other venues outside of the city to hold their meetings, said Councilwoman Christina McElfresh.

Councilman Todd Hickman, a registered nurse, said the city should not reopen the Community Room “until the Butler County COVID (19) numbers come down.” He also asked who would enforce the policy if council approved reopening as he believes the rules would not be followed.

Mayor Jason Frentzel said it would be enforced on an honor system.

“It should be open for small groups because some people communicate better in person than on video,” said Councilman Robert Routson. “We need to do something for the community and we need to use common sense.”

McElfresh said the Community Room is a city-owned building and has a mask mandate. “I feel bad these groups can’t meet in Monroe,” she said.

Council approved a motion to reopen the Community Room by a 5-1 vote, with Hickman casting the lone no vote.

Waste and recycling services contract

Council approved the final addendum in the city’s four-year old waste and recycling contract with Rumpke that will increase residential waste pickup charge to $10.40 a month per unit and recycling services to $4.16 a month per unit.

City Manager Bill Brock said he has asked the city finance director for an analysis of the Garbage Fund to the Finance Committee for review to ensure that the city is covering those costs with the fees that are being charged to residents.

He said the city currently charges $13.50 per month for these services because city had maintained a large balance in the fund. Brock said this has been reduced over time and the committee will be asked to recommend a new fee to ensure that the city does not have to subsidize the fund from the General Fund.

Brock said the city will rebid the contract for another multi-year contract later this year.

In other business, council:

  • Gave final approval to an ordinance renewing Brock’s contract as city manager for another three years. At its Jan. 12 meeting, council approved the first reading of the ordinance renewing Brock’s contract which pays $132,500 a year.
  • Gave final approval for a memorandum of understanding for Monroe to become a member of the Warren County Tactical Response Unit.

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