Posted on: February 17, 2022
The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 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. 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; James Schramm and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members. Tom Burns, Council at Large Member, informed President Davis that he was unable to attend this meeting.
Minutes: Minutes of the January 19, 2022 Council Meetings were approved as written.
Correspondence: There was no correspondence.
Reports of Officers of the City:
Mayor: The Mayor asked for an Executive Session toward the end of the meeting to talk about contract negotiations.
Recreation Center: The weights have been moved into the Weight Room. A former Sewing Room will be turned into a Cardio Weight Room. An estimate of $17,000 has been received to install cameras in and around the Recreation Center. These cameras will be monitored by the Police 24/7. If someone rents the Center, they will be given a “punch code” that can only be activated for the allotted rental time. The goal is to make enough revenue to pay the Center’s yearly utility bills which run $32,000-$36,000. Last month the center generated $2,700 in income. Income generating activities at the Center include: 2 batting cages, basketball tournaments, batting practices, basketball practice and soon the weight room will be open. Future activities include wrestling lessons and golf simulator. Currently, the city is looking for a Director for the Center. Betty Suto in the Mayor’s Office is taking payments and writing a receipt for rentals. The payments are taken to the Utility Office and are posted to the Recreation account.
To keep the city moving forward, revenue has to be generated. The deed to the former Rose Café has been received and needs to be recorded at the Court House. The Mayor would like to use this property as an Impound Lot. Approximate cost to renovate the site is $30,000 which includes fencing, cameras and gravel. A lot of the work can be done by city employees. The Mayor asked Council for a $30,000 loan to complete this project. Monies generated by this project can be used to pay back the loan.
The Mayor thanked Mr. Richard Hord for his help in getting Senior Services to sign an agreement with East Ohio Regional Hospital and Trinity Health Systems. There are now 3 hospitals serving Belmont County Senior Services.
With the impending snow and ice coming tomorrow, the Mayor said that 6-7 trucks are ready to plow and salt the roads. He asked that the citizens give the trucks room on the streets to work.
4K Industrial Park Property – The Mayor called ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Both of these agencies have Zero violations against the 4K Industrial Park Property. The city’s water supply has been tested for Radium and Chromium and the results are “not detected”. The Mayor wants the citizens to know that the water is safe and we are taking steps to keep it that way. The southern-most expansion well is being converted into a test well.
Meter Reading – Some citizens have had an “estimated” water usage reading for 5-6 years. These people have recently called in their first reading to the Utility Office and the bill was $300-$400. It is not known how much of this is an overage charge since the meter hasn’t been read for a long time. The Mayor asked Council to create a Resolution that would allow the city to charge residents currently with a large water bill, this one time only, the minimum amount, and henceforth require these customer to submit a reading every month to the Utility Office. The Mayor is afraid if this action isn’t taken, these people will stop sending in their readings. Also, people may use excessive amounts of water but call in a low reading. To monitor this, a water department employee will be sent once every three months, to every house with a dead meter, to personally read the water meter. Another Resolution will be needed to place a surcharge on those customers who refuse to submit a meter reading. If a customer cannot read their meter, an employee will be sent to their home to read it for them.
Service Director: Mr. Sutak met with OMEGA (Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association) to discuss different types of grants and funding. Funding is aggressively being pursued for water, sewer, and recreation projects. A Historic Restoration Grant is being sought to restore the fountain in the Park. Mr. Sutak said grant searching is very competitive and every city is looking for funding.
Mr. Regis asked if a grant could be secured to make the city building, specifically Council Chambers, handicap assessable. Many people have expressed their desire to attend Council Meetings but are hindered by the stairs to the second floor. Mr. Sutak said he has been looking into this type of grant. Mr. Shrodes said the Service Committee has also discussed this matter.
Mr. Schramm asked Mr. Sutak to look at a broken plastic pipe on the alley side of Economy Auto Sales. An orange cone has been placed on top of the hole so people will not step in the hole and fall.
A Town Hall Meeting will be held on Sunday, February 6, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center. The Mayor wants to talk about what has been done in the last two years and what the city wants to do in the next 2 years. Special Interest Groups will not be permitted to speak at this meeting.
Mr. Shrodes asked Mr. Sutak to explore grants to fund generators for the City Building, especially for the Police Station and the Auditors Office.
Mr. Rodgers asked about the guidelines for the American Rescue Act money. Mr. Sutak said the money can be used for water, sewer and broadband upgrades. The city will use this money to separate storm and sewer lines, replace water lines, and install catch basins for water run-off.
Mr. Regis praised the Water Department Employees who fixed the water break in Floral Valley.
Auditor: Financial Reports for January were distributed to Council. Auditor Randall suggested taking the $17,000 for the cameras at the Recreation Center from the Permanent Improvement Fund.
Safety Director: Director Regis asked Council’s permission to sell a Chevy Cruze used for transporting patients. This vehicle has a bad transmission and several thousand miles on it.
After the next Council Meeting, Director Regis would like to meet with the Ordinance and Safety Committees to talk about Fire and EMS Training for members. Because of worker shortages, many volunteer members “run” with other Fire and EMS Departments. These members ask for additional training from Martins Ferry. The agreement has been, if the member “runs” with other departments, then the training cost is split between all departments (i.e. if someone runs for Martins Ferry as well as 4 other departments, then Martins Ferry will pay 20% of training costs and the member has to get the rest of the cost from the other department they run with or pay the rest out of their own pocket.) Currently, Director Regis feels the department’s bylaws need to be clearer on this issue. He asks Council to create an Ordinance that says if a member of Martins Ferry Fire/EMS Department belongs to others Fire/EMS Departments, Martins Ferry will only pay a portion of the training relative to the number of departments the member serves. Director Regis also asks that the Ordinance contains ways to recoup the costs of training if a volunteer doesn’t take the training seriously or drops out. He would also like the Volunteers, after having extensive training, to be held to a five year commitment to the city.
An Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant has been submitted for $500,000 to cover new air packs, new hydrant connections, turn-out gear and an automatic hose roller.
Improvements to the EMS Building include: patching drywall, painting, and new flooring. New furniture will also be purchased.
Billing is now being done every 3rd day which results in quicker payments to the 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 informed Mr. Regis that a meeting will be needed soon to talk about contract negotiations with the Police Department.
Street: No report.
Ordinance: Mr. Shrodes asked Council Members to review Ordinance 107.05 Notification of Discussion of Specific Types of Public Business for any changes that may be needed. This Ordinance permits a person to request to be notified of all meetings at which any specific type of public business is scheduled to be discussed. Mr. Shrodes would like to update this Ordinance regarding notification methods.
Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.
Code Administration: No report.
Safety: No report.
Service: No report.
Cemetery: Mr. Burns notified President Davis that he would be scheduling a Cemetery Meeting at the next Council Meeting.
Public Relations: Mr. Rodgers said the Committee met on January 25 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the agreement between Belmont County Senior Services and Wheeling Hospital. Mr. Rodgers spoke to Lisa Kazmirski, Director of Senior Services and she informed him that an agreement would be forthcoming. It was reported today that an agreement had been reached with East Ohio Regional Hospital and Trinity Health Systems.
Real Estate: No report.
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, reiterated that he was at the Commissioners Meeting earlier in the day and the Commissioners announced they reached agreements with East Ohio Regional Hospital and Trinity Health Systems to provide services to Belmont County Senior Centers. East Ohio Regional Hospital has also partnered with Belmont College to provide training and services to meet the needs of health care providers. Mr. Hord was told that asbestos needs to be removed from the former Curley residence before it can be demolished. He also complimented the city workers on the fine job they did removing the snow from the roads during a recent snow storm.
Ordinances and Resolutions:
Mr. Hunker made a motion to suspend the 72-Hour Rule. Mr. Regis seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Schramm, and Regis voting yes. The motion carried.
An Ordinance Creating A Charge For Water Capital Projects and Removing The Water Debt Charge That Has Been Paid Off Beginning February 1, 2022.
This Ordinance was given a First Reading. Motion was made by Mr. Rodgers to suspend the rules. Mr. Shrodes seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes and Armstrong voting yes. The motion carried. Motion was made by Mr. Schramm to pass the Ordinance as read. Mr. Regis seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried and the Ordinance was declared passed.
Mr. Hunker made a motion to suspend the 72-Hour Rule. Mr. Shrodes seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Schramm, and Regis voting yes. The motion carried.
An Ordinance specifying Utility Rates for the City of Martins Ferry in effect as of February 1, 2022.
This Ordinance was given a First Reading. Mr. Regis made a motion to suspend the rules. Mr. Hunker seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried. Motion was made by Mr. Schramm to pass the Ordinance as read. Motion was seconded by Mr. Shrodes. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried and the Ordinance was declared passed.
AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF MARTINS
FERRY TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR THE ZANE
HIGHWAY 12” WATERLINE CONNECTION TO AETNA
STREET BOOSTER STATION AND DECLARING AN
Mr. Schramm made a motion to allow the First Christian Church to close Zane Highway from Jefferson Street to Monroe Street in order to have a Car Show on May 21, 2022 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. A Fire Lane must be maintained. The rain date is May 22. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried.
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 $17,000 for cameras, in and around the Recreation Center, from the Permanent Improvement Fund. The motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
The Mayor asked Mr. Kelly to take off the bottom of one of the dead meters to inspect what kind of batteries were being used. It was found to use two double-A batteries that are soldered in place. Batteries have been ordered and city employees are going to try and fix the broken meters. The batteries will arrive next week and an effort will be made to fix the broken meters. Some new meters will still have to be purchased but the Mayor is hopeful that some of the broken meters can be fixed.
Mr. Schramm made a motion to allow the Safety Director to accept bids for the sale of the Chevy Cruze by the EMS. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Hunker made a motion to allow a one-time charge of the minimum bill, to correct bills with high overages from estimated bills now being called in. Motion was seconded by Mr. Regis. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Schramm, and Regis voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Regis made a motion to allow the Administration to charge a surcharge to residents who refuse to call in their meter readings or make arrangements for their meter readings. Motion was seconded by Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to go into Executive Session under Ohio Revised Code 121-22, G4. for Contract Negotiations. Mr. Regis seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Schramm, Regis and Hunker voting yes. The motion carried.
Motion was made by Mr. Regis and seconded by Mr. Hunker to go out of Executive Session. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Regis made a motion for Council to give a vote of support to the Mayor to use Eastman and Smith, LTD, Attorneys at Law, with the retainer of $5,000 being funded by Enterprise Funds. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Rodgers made a motion to excuse Mr. Burns from tonight’s meeting. Mrs. Armstrong seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.
Mr. Regis made a motion that Council approve the negotiated one-year police contract. Mrs. Armstrong seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Schramm voting yes. The motion was declared passed.
Mr. Rodgers moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mrs. Armstrong. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.
Kay H. McFarlan, Clerk of Council Kristine Davis, Council President