Posted on: May 5, 2021
The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., at the Donald Myers Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order by Council President Pro Tempore Rick Rodgers 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, Jim Schramm and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members. Councilman Rodgers reserved his right to vote.
Minutes: Minutes of the April 21, 2021 Council Meeting were approved as written.
Correspondence: Correspondence was received from the Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control, regarding Council’s right to object to the renewal of any alcoholic beverage license and request a hearing. Permits to sell alcoholic beverages in Martins Ferry will expire on July 1, 2021. It is the responsibility of every permit holder to file a renewal application. Chief McFarland said there were no issues with any establishments that sold alcoholic beverages in the city.
Reports of Officers of the City:
Mayor: Mayor Davies reported city employees have been working on the wiring in the basement of the city building to try and get it better organized.
The new tractor for the cemetery cost $11,800. At the last meeting, Council approved taking $10,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund to pay for the tractor. The remaining $1,800 was taken from the Street Department Fund since the tractor is also used for cutting grass on Route 7 and other properties in town. Crews are doing their best to cut the grass in the cemetery but with recent heavy rainfall, the grass is growing faster than it can be cut. This week a sewer was capped and concreted over on Zane Highway and it will be covered with dirt on Friday.
The Mayor informed Council that a new warehouse business has recently opened in the city along with several other smaller businesses.
A gentleman, in partnership with the James C. Dawes Welding Company, wants to lease the building just north of the company and place a 1,000 gallon propane tank in the back for filling smaller propane cylinders. The Mayor checked with Mr. Stecker regarding Zoning for this property and was told this is a permitted use.
As soon as the weather is warmer, city employees will begin replacing water lines from North Ridge Drive to Highland Road in Hillendale. There have been multiple water breaks in this area and this replacement project will alleviate the problems.
Mrs. Armstrong reported the railroad ties near Nickles Bakery on Route 7 South are deteriorating. Mayor Davies said he would contact the Railroad Company and report the problem.
Service Director: Mr. Sutak could not attend tonight’s Council Meeting because he was participating in a ZOOM Meeting with Bel-O-Mar.
Safety Director: No report.
Auditor: Auditor Randall passed out the end of the month reports for April, 2021.
Law Director: No report.
Police Department: Chief McFarland reported a full-time Dispatcher came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The Dispatcher is now quarantined. A full-time Officer has re-enlisted in the Army Reserves and will be gone a few weeks in June and 1 weekend a month henceforth. Due to a dog-biting incidence at the ballfield in Hillendale, Chief McFarland has consulted with Mr. Stecker about possibly preparing an ordinance prohibiting dogs in the City Park and ballfields.
Chief McFarland discussed with the Mayor about placing the profits from Street Sweeper violations into the Police Department Fund. He also proposed raising the part-time wage from $11 to $15. A schedule of Part Time Wages, paid by other towns along the Ohio River, was distributed.
Fire Department: No report.
Code Administrator: No report.
Park District: Mr. Howard reported the Park District has received several generous donations. Pool passes are now being sold and applications for life guards are being accepted. The Belmont County Health Department is doing a one-time COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Recreation Center on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. The next meeting of the Park District is Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.
Water Department: No report.
Reports of Committees of Council:
Finance and Audit: Mr. Regis re-scheduled the combined meeting of Finance and Audit and Street Committees for Thursday, May 13 at 5:30 p.m. Originally this meeting was scheduled for May 11.
Street: The Street Committee will meet with the Finance and Audit Committee on Thursday, May 13 at 5:30 p.m.
Ordinance: No report.
Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.
Code Administration: No report.
Safety: No report.
Service: No report.
Cemetery: No report.
Public Relations: No report.
Real Estate/Utility: No report.
Income Tax: No report.
Citizens To Be Heard: President Pro-Tempore Rogers reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.
Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, stated he has been appointed to serve on the Belmont County District Library Board. The Library Board is concerned that the State of Ohio is considering lowering the current funding rate of 1.7% to 1.66% which would take effect July 1, 2021. He asked the Mayor to consider contacting the State Senators and Representatives and ask them to keep the current funding rate of 1.7%. Mayor Davies said he would send them a letter tomorrow. Mr. Hord asked about the $479,718 carry-over money in the General Fund. The Mayor said the biggest reason was the COVID-19 funding which was used for wages for the city’s safety forces which freed up money in the General Fund. Mr. Hord noted that Belmont County ranked 3rd in the State of Ohio for the largest occurrences of COVID-19. The Mayor said the City follows the safety guidelines from the Governor.
Tom Burns, Council-at-Large Member, 411 Grant Avenue, said he would like to see the Parking Meter Fines kept in the Meter Fund for upkeep/repairs on the meters and help with the salary of the Meter Enforcement Worker. The Mayor said the meter funds and the off-street parking funds all go into Parking Enforcement. If a police officer writes a street sweeper ticket, the proceeds go into the Police Department Fund. If the Parking Enforcement Worker writes a street sweeper ticket, the proceeds go into the Parking Enforcement Fund. Mr. Burns reported a couple of meters in town weren’t working. Mr. Stecker said he would prepare an ordinance to clarify the appropriate funds for the Parking Meter, Off-Street Parking and Street Sweeper proceeds. Mr. Burns thanked Chief McFarland and the police force for all they did for his grandson when he was in High School.
Ordinances and Resolutions:
There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.
Mr. Shrodes said the Lions Club and a few High School Students will be putting flags on Veterans graves at Riverview Cemetery and Walnut Grove Cemetery on May 26, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. in preparation for Memorial Day. Anyone is welcome to help.
In regards to dogs in the City Park, Ballfields and recreation areas, Mr. Stecker said that he will prepare an Ordinance listing the penalties for offenders. Signs can also be posted.
Mr. Shrodes said the pay rates for the Dispatchers and hiring of another police officer will be discussed at the May 13th meeting of the Street Committee and Finance and Audit Committee.
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.
There was a short discussion on Parking Violations. Mayor Davies reiterated that proceeds from tickets written by Police Officers go into the Police Department Fund. Auditor Randall said the Auditors may change the way tickets are handled.
Mr. Rodgers thanked everyone in the Fourth Ward who voted yesterday. Mr. Rodgers will retain his Fourth Ward Council seat.
Mr. Hunker moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Regis. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 6:39 p.m. with a salute to the flag.