City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of September 7, 2022

Posted on: September 22, 2022

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, September 7, 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, 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; Jim Schramm and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members. Tom Burns, Council at Large Member, informed President Davis he would not be able to attend tonight’s meeting.
Minutes: Minutes of the August 17, 2022 Council Meeting were approved as written.
Correspondence: The Walter Drane company has contacted the Council Clerk regarding updating the Codified Ordinances. Ordinances passed since August 5, 2021 will be sent to the company and the Clerk will be notified when the updates pages are completed and ready to be shipped.
Reports of Officers of the City:
Mayor: The Mayor reported that the Semper Fi Paving Company submitted the lowest bid at $662,045.39 for the paving of 9th Street, 8th Street and 6th Street, the area locally known as “Bull Town”. This bid was accepted and hopefully paving will begin at the end of September. Because recent water line breaks have ruined a few roads, the Mayor asked Council to include 3 other roads (Ohio Rd., Highland Rd., and Wood Rd.) in the “Bull Town” paving job. He will get the additional cost estimates for these jobs and report back to Council.
The Mayor reported on several water line replacements and catch basins being worked on.
Code enforcement is now being done by the Police Department. There will no longer be any warnings. Citations will be issued for high grass, weeds, trash can violations, and piles of junk on property. Offenders will come to Mayor’s Court and be fined.
The problem with the Street Sweeper has been identified but it is not known how long it will take to get the parts to fix it. Tickets will not be issued for improper parking on Street Sweeper Days for the remainder of the year.
The Cemetery Crew will be finishing with grass cutting soon. Some routine maintenance still needs done and a few trees need removed.
Four hundred tons of salt has been purchased and Mr. Sutak is working with a company to possibly store the salt inside.
The Mayor reported on the progress of the Impound Lot at 636 South Zane Highway. The lot is already paved, easy to police, and cameras can easily be installed. The Mayor asked Council if the $30,000 appropriated for the Impound Lot, which was to be built on the former Rose Café site, be put back into the General Fund and instead use some of the American Rescue Money for the Impound Lot on Zane Highway. Mr. Stecker is checking to see if the American Rescue Money can be used for the Impound Lot. One neighbor disagrees with the placement of the lot. Mr. Regis mentioned the neighbors he spoke with asked that the lot 1) not create problems for residents getting in and out of their garages in the alley and 2) the city clean up the mess and keep it organized. Mrs. Armstrong is concerned that the proposed site of the impound lot is on a major thoroughfare in the center of town and will make things look bad in that area. She is also afraid it may depreciate the neighbor’s property values. It is not the impound lot that Mrs. Armstrong is against, it is the location. The Mayor said that the cars towed to the city’s impound lot are ones that will be recovered. The lot will not be filled up with junk cars. Mr. Shrodes asked that the security lights shine down directly on the lot and not shine onto the surrounding homes.
The Police Department and the EMS Department are having problems with vehicles. Two of the EMS cars are small and great on gas mileage. However, when there is snow on the roads or a larger person needs transported, these vehicles are inadequate. The EMS Department is asking for a larger 4-wheel drive vehicle. The Mayor estimated the cost to be around $50,000. This purchase can be paid out of the American Rescue Money. The Police Department would like to purchase 2 cruisers this year and one next year in order to stop the leasing arrangement. These purchases would probably amount to $250,000.
The Mayor informed Council that $150,000 needs to be encumbered due to a major problem with the force main. It is believed that the force main is broke somewhere under a 1 miles stretch of the National Limestone Company.
Mrs. Armstrong asked if the EMS carries COVID Testing Kits. The Mayor thought they did but didn’t know for sure. She was concerned because she knew a man who was treated by the EMS and within the next two days he tested positive for COVID. The Mayor will check on this issue.
Mrs. Armstrong stated that other streets in town need lines painted. Mayor Davies stated if crews have time, they will be painted.
The Fall Curb-Side Clean-Up Day will probably be sometime in early October. The Mayor will have the exact date for the next meeting.

Service Director: Mr. Sutak said a Resolution will be brought to Council at the next meeting to accept the amounts and rates as determined by the Budget Commission and Authorizing the Necessary Tax Levies and Certifying them. This Resolution has to be passed so it can be submitted to the County Auditor’s Office before October 1, 2022.
Mr. Sutak will ask Mr. Stecker to create an Ordinance to have Council authorize moving .3 of the inside millage over into the bond retirement fund to help pay for Street Paving.
A few more catch basins still need done before some of the roads are paved.
Safety Director: No report.
Auditor: No report.
Law Director: No report.
Police Department: Chief McFarland asked the Times Leader Reporter to remind citizens that fines will assessed if building permits or contractor licenses are not secured. Mr. Sutak asked that the fees received from the sale of building permits and contractor licenses be placed in the Safety Service Line Item which paid the previous Code Administrator’s salary. Any officer doing code enforcement duties can be paid from this fund, thus alleviating the General Fund of this responsibility. Research will be done to see if the fines for high grass and garbage can infractions can also be placed in the Safety Service Fund. The Chief reported grant applications have been submitted 1) for Laptops for officers who attend trainings and 2) to help with the cost of maintenance of current Body Cameras.
Fire Department: No report.
Code Administrator: No report.
Park District: No report.
Water Department: No report.
Reports of Committees of Council:
Finance and Audit: Chairman Regis scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. to look at line items of the budget and see if anything needs changed. Mr. Sutak reported that the settlement of property taxes have been received and can be reviewed at this meeting.
Street: No report.
Ordinance: No report.
Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.
Code Administration: Mr. Regis will set up a committee meeting with Attorney Stecker to discuss the city’s liability, if any, with known dilapidated properties in town.
Safety: Mr. Schramm will check with the Police Department on a few safety codes.
Service: No report.
Cemetery: No report.
Public Relations: No report.
Real Estate/Utility: No report.
Income Tax: No report.
Citizens To Be Heard:
Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, complimented Officer Starkey on the fine job he has been doing with code enforcement. Mr. Hord asked for an updated on the water run-off on the Miller property discussed at Council Meeting a few months ago. The water run-off has been alleviated by running a hose to a creek bed. As soon as the part is available, the problem will be permanently fixed. Mr. Hord reported that the Belmont County Commissioners approved $75,000 for the city’s paving improvements from the permissible license tax. The Mayor said this money will be used to pave 9th Street. There is no update regarding the former Staffilino Property. The Mayor said he still plans to honor Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Wallace, and Mr. Sommers at a future meeting. Mr. Hord asked about Auditor Randall and was told she was still in the “decision-making loop” but has not been released to return to work.

Ordinances and Resolutions:
This Ordinance was given a First Reading.
An Ordinance Increasing The Hourly Wage For Certain Part-Time Positions in the EMS Department.
Motion was made by Mr. Shrodes to suspend the rules. Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. 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 to pass the Ordinance as read. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried and the Ordinance was declared passed.
Miscellaneous Business:
Mr. Regis made a motion that Council appropriate $60,000 from the American Rescue Money for the purchase of 1 police cruiser. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes inquired about the Auction for older city vehicles. Mr. Regis said he is waiting for the Auctioneer to give him an available date. The Auctioneer will take care of placing an ad in the paper.
Sometime early next year, Mr. Shrodes asked for a list of every vehicle, machinery and piece of equipment the city owns. Mr. Sutak said he will gather this information and get it to Mr. Shrodes.
Mr. Hunker made a motion to allow the Mayor to establish an impound lot at 636 South Zane Highway (formerly Robert’s Pontiac). Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Rodgers, Schramm and Regis voting yes. Mrs. Armstrong voted no. The motion passed.
Mr. Regis made a motion to approve $30,000 from the American Rescue Fund Money for the Impound Lot cameras and fencing. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Rodgers and Schramm voting yes. Mrs. Armstrong voted no. The motion carried.
Mr. Regis made a motion to grant the Mayor permission to add Ohio Avenue, Highland Avenue and Woods Lane to the Paving Project. Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Schramm voting yes. The motion was declared passed.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Mr. Regis seconded, to excuse Mr. Burns from tonight’s meeting. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.
Mr. Schramm noted that the Gas Company’s contractor who replaced the sidewalks on South Zane Highway did an inadequate job.
Mr. Schramm 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. Rodgers. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.
After a year of trying to negotiate with the company that paved South Zane Highway, the Mayor has consulted with Attorney Stecker and decided to hire another company to get the road fixed. Bids will be accepted for this job. After the road has been repaired and the bill paid, any money left from the retainer will be given to the original paving company that did the inferior work. Council did not object to this action.
Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Hunker. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried and the meeting was adjourned at 6:57 p.m. with a salute to the flag.

_______________________ _______________________
Kay H. McFarlan, Clerk of Council Kristine Davis, Council President