City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of January 20, 2021

Posted on: January 20, 2021

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., at the Donald Myers Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order by Council President Kristine Davis with the Pledge of Allegiance recited by those present in chamber, followed by a prayer by the Clerk. Seating was spaced for social distancing and other precautions were observed in accordance with the COVID-19 compliance.

Answering Roll Call were Bob Hunker, First Ward Council Member, Bruce Shrodes, Second Ward Council Member; Suzanne Armstrong, Third Ward Council Member; Rick Rodgers, Fourth Ward Council Member; Tom Burns and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members. Absent: Jim Schramm.

President Davis welcomed Council back for the new year and expressed gratitude for their dedication and willingness to work together, especially in these trying times. She also reminded Council:

  1. If any Council Member is running for office again this year, petitions are due by Wednesday, February 3 at 4:00 p.m. to the Board of Elections.
  2. Campaign Finance Reports are due by April 5 for candidates who will be in the Primary in May.

Minutes: Minutes of the December 30, 2020 Council Meeting were approved as written.

Correspondence: There was no correspondence.

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor: Mayor Davies reported that crews are doing basic maintenance, fixing water breaks and doing snow removal. Funding is being sought to place a waterline across the footbridge near the football stadium to provide a “backup” water supply to the hospital. Martins Ferry is now supplying water to Bridgeport.

There is a variety of grant funding that the city is looking into securing. The Mayor hopes to secure matching grants to double the city’s ability for improvements, especially paving roadways.

Next week crews will be rebuilding a catch basin on Jefferson Street, separating the sewer and sanitation lines as mandated by the EPA. It is hoped that a grant can be secured to rebuild the catch basin on Grant Avenue. This is a major separation job. It is hoped that these jobs and the street paving can be done at the same time with matching grant money.

The Transfer Station is almost ready to open. Mayor Davies will finalize the agreement with the company who will supply and “pull” the boxes to the landfill. This will save wear and tear on the city trucks.

Mr. Rogers inquired about the Bridgeport Water Department’s computer system problems. The Mayor said those problems did not affect the calculation of water used by Bridgeport since the meter is read manually for billing purposes. Mr. Rogers also asked about the Sensitivity Training for city employees. He was told there will be two different trainings – one for the police department and the one for the other city offices. The Mayor said Council is welcome to attend these sessions.

Service Director: Mr. Sutak said he will need to set up a meeting with Mr. Stecker, Water Superintendent Bill Suto and the Mayor to discuss preparing an agreement with the Village of Bridgeport regarding water rates and increases for the next 4-5 years.

Director Sutak is working with the EPA on an Annual Report for MS4 (an intense report for storm water) for years 2018 and 2019. This is a difficult task for Mr. Sutak since he was not employed by the city at that time and does not know the intentions of the previous administration. The 2020 Report will be easier to complete.

Next week, the Service Director and Mayor will meet with an engineering group in regards to installing a “back-up” water line to the hospital. Funding for this project and the sewer project will be vigorously sought.

Mr. Regis said a woman, from Virginia Street, who did not want to be identified, contacted him to praise a city sanitation worker for “going out of his way” to help her as she was struggling with her garbage. Mr. Sutak said he would relay the message to the employees of that department. Mr. Regis asked if anything could be done about the rough patches on Zane Highway where the city water lines were installed to connect to Bridgeport. The Mayor said he would discuss it with Mr. Suto.

Mr. Rogers asked Mr. Sutak to remove a dead tree from the Betty Zane Cemetery. He is afraid it may fall and damage some of the headstones. It was also noted that a couple of city owned vehicles don’t display decals identifying them as city property. Mr. Sutak said he would check on it.

Safety Director: No report.

Auditor: Auditor Randall distributed a Statement of Cash as of January 20, 2021.

The Auditor reported that two companies have been contacted for estimates to enable Council Meetings to be live streamed. Baker IT Services, LLC submitted a proposal for $9,683.89. Another company was contacted but did not submit an estimate in writing. Since the City Building is not handicap accessible, this program would bring the city into compliance. Cost for this project could come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Auditor Randall explained that a locked storage cabinet, housing the IT equipment in the basement of the City Building, needs replaced and rewired. An estimate of $5,102.15, including labor, has been received from Baker IT Services, LLC. When finished, only the Auditor, Police Department and Baker IT Services will have keys to this cabinet. Payment for the materials ($3,002.15) could be paid from the Permanent Improvement Fund and the labor cost of $2,100 would be split between the Auditor’s Office, Utility Office and the Police Department.

Law Director: No report.

Police Department: No report.

Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

Park District: No report.

Water Department: No report.

Reports of Committees of Council:

Finance and Audit: Auditor Randall reported there was some problems with formulas in the spreadsheets of the year-end reports that were sent to the County Auditor. She is working on correcting these problems. When the reports are finalized, Mr. Regis will schedule a Finance Committee Meeting.

Street: No report.

Ordinance: No report.

Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.

Code Administration: No report.

Safety: Mr. Regis said the Fire Department elected Tom Kelly as Chief 1 and Ron Hilton as Chief 2. The department has also set tentative dates for Betty Zane Days.

Service: Mr. Shrodes said a meeting date will be set at the next Council Meeting.

Cemetery: No report.

Public Relations: No report.

Real Estate/Utility: No report.

Income Tax: No report.

Citizens To Be Heard: President Davis reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, reported he was at the Belmont County Commissioners meeting and they approved $30,000 of CDBG for Martins Ferry. He asked about the possibility of a Fracking Waste Facility coming to the city. The Mayor said there has been an investigation of a site in the Industrial Park but that is all that is known at this time. Mr. Hord was told that Alesha Hill has been named as the new Chamber of Commerce Director. The Chamber may resume monthly meetings in February.

Ordinances and Resolutions:

There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.

Miscellaneous Business:

Mr. Rodgers asked if the lease had been drawn up for the property at the corner of North 5th Street and Ellett Street. Mr. Stecker said he prepared the lease and sent it to the owners. He will check to see if it was sent back.

Mr. Hunker made a motion to excuse Mr. Schramm from tonight’s meeting. Mr. Rogers seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.

The Mayor had a property owner from 5th Street in Mayor’s Court that owes $1,400 in fines because of the junk surrounding his house. The owner told the Mayor he doesn’t have the money to clean it up. The Mayor has threatened to have the city clean it up for him and put a lien for the charges incurred on his taxes. Mr. Stecker said an addition to the current ordinances is needed to allow the city to remediate a property and then charge the property owner the cost of the remediation. Mr. Shrodes asked Mr. Stecker to research this situation and prepare an ordinance and make it available at the combined meeting of the Ordinance Committee and Service Committee on Thursday, January 28 at 6:00 p.m. This will enable the committee to present their findings to Council at the next meeting.

The Mayor offered to demolish dilapidated homes in the city if Council is interested and money is available. He would prefer to do the demolition before summer when the workload is slower.

Mr. Regis made a motion to reflect Council has received reports from the Officers and Management, and to incorporate these reports into the minutes. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.

Mr. Regis made a motion to appropriate $3,002.15 from the Permanent Improvement Fund and $2,100 from the Utility Department, Auditor’s Office and Police Department to replace the cabinet housing the server, with Baker IT Services, LLC doing the work. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Burns voting yes. Motion carried.

Mr. Regis asked the Mayor to prepare a proposal in regards to the demolition projects so it can be addressed at the next Finance Committee Meeting and then brought to the next Council Meeting. The Mayor will meet with Mr. Stecker to review the EPA regulations and devise a plan.

Mr. Shrodes informed Council that retired police dog Ecko passed away. Officer Scales said that a memorial service would be held for Ecko as soon as arrangements can be made.

Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Shrodes. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.