City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of July 19, 2023

Posted on: August 3, 2023

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, 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; Tom Burns, James Agnew, and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.           

Council approved changing the order of the meeting so the Mayor could read proclamations for several EMS workers, recognizing their life-saving efforts in recent emergency calls.  Also, representatives from Regor Energy, Aspen Energy, and Palmer Energy, were permitted 5 minutes each to explain and promote their companies’ Electric Aggregation Program. 

Minutes:  Minutes of the June 7, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  The Lions Club would like permission to close Zane Highway to Grant Street during their Fall Fest on October 14 in the City Park. 

Street paving estimates were distributed.  If council would like to move forward with this paving project, the Mayor will advertise the specifications for a formal bid.

A resident on Pearl Street is concerned about a Maple tree near her property.  The tree’s roots have been disturbed by recent gas line work and a water break that was fixed by the city.  The owner is afraid the tree will die and possibly harm her property.  She would like the city to remove the tree. 

Service Director:  The lowest bid for the replacement of the Air Conditioning Units at the Recreation Center was $41,079.  Since only $40,000 was appropriated for this project, Mr. Sutak ask Council approve up to $42,000 to cover the cost. 

Mr. Sutak informed Council that a large swim meet was held at the Martins Ferry Pool on Saturday.  The Concession Stand was very busy and the Park was utilized as well.

Safety Director:  No report.

            Auditor:  Auditor Regis would like another meeting with the Finance Committee in the next couple of weeks.  He reported that the EMS would like to move all their calls to 911.  Starting after this pay period, Police and EMS salaries will be taken out of the General Fund.  The Vigilant Fire Department Building’s roof cannot be covered with foam because it is in too bad of shape.  Along with the monthly financial reports, Mr. Regis distributed the following: list of new hires (6-15-23 to 7-15-23), job and wage changes (6-15-23 to 7-15-23),  and copies of lab certificates for two Water Plant employees.  The Mayor explained the reasoning and cost savings of changing two job descriptions at the Water Department.

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy gave the June Month End Service Report.  Also in June, K-9 Officer Patch assisted in tracking and apprehending a prisoner who escaped from a WV Law Enforcement Agency. 

            Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

            Park District: No report.      

            Water Department:  No report.       

Reports of Committees of Council:   

            Finance and Audit:   Mr. Hunker set a Finance Committee Meeting for Wednesday, July 26 at 10:00 a.m.

Street: The Committee gave the Administration permission to put the paving jobs out for bid.

Ordinance:  Three pieces of legislation will be read tonight. 

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  Mr. Shrodes commented that the Street Department was doing a great job with the pothole patching.  Mr. Regis asked if The Times Leader could remind citizens to slow down when  crew are out patching roads. 

            Cemetery:  Mr. Burns had no report but thanked everyone who has worked at keeping the cemetery in good shape.

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.  

            Mark Sambuco, 52699 Orchard Drive, Colerain, Ohio, asked the Mayor for an update on the waterline situation in his neighborhood.  The Mayor stated the city turned the bid over to the Solicitor yesterday.  The Law Director is working on the legal steps that need to be addressed.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, inquired about the 8 filled positions and 6 openings in the Police Department that was noted in a newspaper article on the City Auditor in The Times Leader.  Auditor Regis explained his statement was misconstrued and that there is more than 8 active positions at the Department but there will be officers on sick leave in the near future.  When asked about the 3 reported job openings at the Water Department, the Mayor explained the cost savings measure taken by the city by not filling any openings at the Water Department.  Mr. Hord was told that at least once a year, grants are searched to help make the city building handicap accessible.   The Mayor doesn’t think the new Trinity Health System Hospital being built in St. Clairsville will have a negative impact on East Ohio Regional Hospital.  Mr. Hord reminded everyone about the Town Hall Meeting with the Belmont County Commissioners on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center. 

Auditor Jack Regis, 1104 N. 9th Street, explained that his brother-in-law died at home and was not found for several days.  He praised and thanked the EMS members and Police Officers that assisted in the removal of his brother-in-law’s body. 

William Graft, 514 North 8th Street, reported a tree from the cemetery fell during a recent storm and landed in his driveway.  He dragged the tree into the street where city crews then cut it up and hauled it away.  He is concerned that the trees on the bank of the cemetery will fall and damage his house.  Mr. Graft reported a large pothole in front of 510 North 8th Street and asked that the city patch it. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            An Ordinance To Amend Section 193.06(A) Of The Codified Ordinances Of The City Of Martins Ferry Regarding The Credit For Taxes Paid To Other Municipalities And Declaring An Emergency. 
            This Ordinance was given a third reading.  This Ordinance died for a lack of a motion. 

A Resolution Declaring It Necessary To Levy A Tax In Excess Of The 10 Mill Limitation And To Replace A 0.05 Mill Fire Truck Levy For A Continuing Period And Declaring An Emergency.

This Resolution was given a first reading.  Mr. Sutak said Fire Chief Kelly asked that the Resolution be withdrawn.  Therefore no action was taken by Council.

Mr. Shrodes made a motion to suspend the 72 Hour Rule.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried. 
          An Ordinance Approving Amending Chapter 193, Income Tax Sections 193.03 And 193.04 Of The Administrative Code Of The City Of Martins Ferry, Ohio To Provide For Imposition Of Annual Income Tax Rate Of Two Percent (2.00%) Per Year On Income On Or After January 1, 2024 And Declaring An Emergency. 
          This motion was given a first reading.  This motion will go to a second reading.  Several Council Members spoke in favor of passing this Ordinance and increasing the income tax.  It was suggested to have a Town Hall Meeting to inform the citizens about the importance of the Income Tax increase. 






Miscellaneous Business:   

The Mayor reported that a bid of $5,000 was received from the Tree of Life Church for the former Curly Property and a late bid of $1,000 was received from the Naylor Brothers (minimum bid was $5,000) for the former Booster Club Property on Broadway Street.  Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Mr. Rodgers seconded to accept the $5,000 bid on the former Curly Property and reject the bid on the Broadway Street Property.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm and Hunker voting yes.  Rev. Agnew abstained.  The motion was passed by a majority vote.

Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Rev. Agnew seconded to allow the Lions Club to close Grant to Zane Highway on Saturday, October 14, 2023, 12:00 noon – 7:00 p.m. for Fall Fest.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried. 

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to appropriate an additional $1,500 from the Permanent Improvement Fund for the bid from H.E. Neumann for the new air conditioner units for the Recreation Center.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker and Shrodes voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Hunker made a motion and Rev. Agnew seconded to accept the list of New Hires Report submitted by the Auditor for the period of June 15 – July 15, 2023.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried. 

Mr. Rodgers made a motion to allow the Mayor and Service Director to advertise for bids for the proposed street paving projects.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns.  A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, and Armstrong voting yes.  The motion carried. 

            Discussion lasted for 12 minutes on removing the position of EMS dispatcher and routing all calls through 911.  This issue was referred to the Finance Committee. 

No decision was made concerning the tree on Pearl Street. 

President Davis reminded Council Members that they must complete the Sunshine Law Training by the end of this term.  Fraud Assessment Forms need to be completed and given to the Auditors by July 20.

Mr. Shrodes thanked the Lions Club for cleaning up the Park and the Fountain.  On Saturday they will be painting the Pavilion and benches. 

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 Rev. Agnew.   After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.  

Mr. Hunker made a motion to note that Council has received and reviewed the Financial Reports for the previous month of June, 2023 which included a Statement of Cash Position with MTD Totals and Payroll Summary.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.

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

            The meeting was adjourned at 7:34 p.m. 

The next Regular Council meeting will be August 2, 2023 in Council Chambers.   Council will meet in Special Session tomorrow, July 20, 2023 at 10 am, and again in Special Session on Friday July 21, 2023 at 10 am. Both Special Sessions will be held in Council Chambers and will be for the consideration of legislation only.

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