Posted on: August 3, 2023
The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, June 7, 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 with 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.
Minutes: Minutes of the May 17, 2023 Regular Council Meeting and the May 24, 2023 Special Council Meeting were approved as written.
Correspondence: There was no correspondence.
Reports of Officers of the City:
Mayor: Mayor Davies apologized to Council for the high grass situation on 65 lots, not owned by the city, but cared for by the city because the owners are not taking responsibility for the maintenance of their property. Because of lack of personnel, Seasonal Employees are being used in other departments. Also, these lots can only be cut, not manicured, because of time constraints.
The American Heritage Girls Organization from the First Christian Church, have asked if they can have a 5K Race in November and use the same route as the Betty Zane Days 5k Race. The Mayor will give Council the exact date at the next meeting.
The Town Hall meeting with the Belmont County Commissioners will be held on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center.
The Mayor asked Council to approve a transfer of $10,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund to the Recreation Center Fund to cover the cost of the Splash Pad’s fence and turf installation.
Mr. Shrodes praised the Administration for the operation and cleanliness of the pool and splash pad. On Saturday he observed kids enjoying the facilities. He noted admission prices and season passes are very reasonable.
Service Director: Mr. Sutak has been working with Auditor Regis on a Bond Participation Note which will be sent to Bond Council. This process is necessary in order to borrow funds from Unified Bank to purchase the new Packer.
The Administration is looking into installing solar panels on the Water Plant to save on utilities costs which currently run about $20,000-$22,000 per month at the facility. The city would not own the solar panels and would not be responsible for the maintenance of the panels or the roof. A representative from the Solar Panel Company will do an analysis for the city. If Council is interested in this program, the representative would meet with Council and review his findings. The Mayor said there would be no out-of-pocket cost to the city.
Mr. Burns inquired about the 2 properties that the city will be selling. Mr. Sutak said he just received a parcel number for one of the properties and will prepare the advertisement for the newspaper tomorrow. The notice will run consecutively for 2 weeks.
Mr. Sutak reported that the $18,750 ODNR Grant money for the Ball Field Lights has been received and placed back into the Permanent Improvement Fund.
Auditor: Auditor Regis asked Council to make a motion to transfer $10,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund and place it in the Recreation Center line item to cover expenses for the Splash Pad. If an ordinance is needed, Mr. Stecker will prepare one for the next meeting. The State Auditor requests when payments from line items are changed or moved, a motion should be noted in the minutes so the Auditors can examine the action when they perform the Audit. Auditor Regis asked Council to make a decision regarding the credit for taxes paid to other municipalities and also decide what to do with the EMS situation.
Auditor Regis asked Council to cancel the June 21, 2023 meeting and instead schedule a public hearing on the Budget on June 28 at 5:30 pm followed by the regular Council Meeting. This will give him time to prepare the budget and get it to the Court House before he leaves for vacation.
Safety Director: Director Regis reported $10,000 in grant money from the Department of Natural Resources has been received by the Fire Department for the Side-by-Side Utility Vehicle. This vehicle needs emergency lighting installed before it can be put into service.
Last week Director Regis received several complaints about junk and clutter in the yard and front porch of a house on Washington Street. Officer Nixon was notified and the house is now cleaned up. Mr. Regis is also using Social Media to locate owners of dilapidated properties in the city.
Certain items from the Police and Fire Department for the city auction are emergency sensitive -related equipment such as police cruiser lights and cage protectors. Director Regis would like permission to advertise these items on govdeals.com. This website is strictly an on-line auction for government entities to ensure the equipment doesn’t end up in the hands of the general public.
Law Director: No report.
Police Department: Police Chief Jerry Murphy gave the end of May, 2023 Service Report for the Police Department. A K-9 Demonstration was conducted for a local Boy Scout Troop. Thanks and praise were given to the officers who took the time to meet with the troop and shared their professional experiences.
Fire Department: No report.
Code Administrator: No report.
Park District: No report.
Water Department: No report.
Reports of Committees of Council:
Finance and Audit: The Committee met on May 26 to discuss the 2023 budget shortfalls in the General Fund. Options and changes were discussed. It was agreed that decisions need to be made soon. Mr. Hunker set a Finance Committee Meeting for Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. The Income Tax Committee will also meet with the Finance Committee.
Street: The committee met on June 5, 2023. Mr. Rogers reported approximately $240,000 is left from the borrowed money for street paving. Estimates will be secured on 4 streets that the committee would like paved. At the next meeting, the committee will discuss sending letters to Representative Bill Johnson and Senator Frank Hoagland regarding the deteriorating roads leading to the school campus.
Ordinance: The Ordinance Committee is researching options on handling Public Speaking at Council Meetings.
Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.
Code Administration: No report.
Safety: No report.
Service: Mr. Shrodes would like to schedule a Committee Meeting with Mr. Sutak to further discuss the solar panel options and building permits.
Cemetery: No report.
Public Relations: No report.
Real Estate/Utility: No report.
Income Tax: Mrs. Armstrong reminded Council that East Ohio Regional Hospital was given a 10 year income tax credit of 75% on taxes collected from their employees. Income tax from the hospital amounts to around $280,000 yearly. Mrs. Armstrong gave 2 scenarios regarding increasing the city income tax: 1) If the city income tax was raised to 1.25%, revenue would increase $376,595, and 2) if the city income tax was raised to 1.50%, revenue would increase $753,282. Council was reminded that an increase in the city income tax would need to be placed on the ballot and approved by the citizens.
Citizens To Be Heard: President Davis reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.
Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, addressed local business closings. The Mayor said some of the buildings are being looked at by new businesses. There is no news regarding the former Staffilino building. Mr. Hord was told the former Curley property will be for sale soon. The Mayor announced Interim Chief Murphy was chosen to be the permanent Chief of Police. Mr. Hord was told that Columbia Gas is having an issue with pressuring the lines on Virginia Street and it may be 2-3 weeks before they can return to paving the sidewalks on Zane Highway. The Mayor said that the Strawberry Festival was well attended and continues to grow every year. Mr. Hord asked the city administration to send something in writing regarding the Town Hall Meeting Event to the Belmont County Commissioners. Mayor Davies said he will get a notice to them tomorrow.
Ordinances and Resolutions:
Mr. Hunker made a motion to suspend the 72 Hour Rule. Rev. Agnew seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew and Schramm, voting yes. The motion carried and the Ordinance was given a first reading.
An Ordinance Authorizing The Issuance Of $198,000.00 of Sanitation Vehicle Acquisition Bond Anticipation Notes, Series 2023, To The Costs of Acquiring A Sanitation Vehicle and Related Equipment and Appurtenances Thereto, And Declaring An Emergency.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to suspend the rules. Mr. Hunker seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes. The motion carried. Mr. Schramm made a motion to pass the Ordinance as read. Mr. Burns seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Agnew 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. Sutak will schedule a meeting with an ODOT District #11 Representative regarding how ODOT might help the city with road issues on St. Rt. 647.
Mr. Burns raised questions about citations. The Mayor explained how he handles violations in Mayor’s Court and gave several examples. The wording has been changed slightly in the letter that is sent to citizens in violation of ordinances. Mr. Stecker will be consulted to insure violations notices are handled properly.
Mayor Davies officially announced that Office Murphy is now Martins Ferry’s new Chief of Police. Chief Murphy was given a round of applause.
Mr. Shrodes asked that the Finance and Income Tax Committees have a joint meeting to discuss the budget issues.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to cancel the June 21, 2023 regular meeting and to schedule a Public Hearing for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 26, 2023 followed by a regular Council Meeting at 6:00 p.m. Also, the July 5, 2023 meeting will be cancelled. The motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Hunker made a motion to approve paying the Meter Maid from the Code and EMS Funds for her hours. Rev. Agnew 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 made a motion that the Meter Maid is paid retroactively to November 22, 2022, with 30% of her salary paid from the Meter Fund and 70% of her salary paid from the General Fund. Mr. Schramm seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew and Schramm, voting yes. The motion was declared passed.
Mayor Davies announced the Celebration in the Park will be on Saturday, July 1, 2023 beginning at noon. There will be a free swim, bands, food trucks, vendors and Fireworks at dusk. Rain date will be July 2. Director Regis noted there will also be fireworks on August 5, (the last night of the Betty Zane Festival).
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to transfer up to $10,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund to the Recreation Center Fund for turf and fence installation at the Splash Pad. Mr. Burns seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Schramm made a motion and Mr. Burns seconded to allow the American Heritage Girls to hold a 5K race, beginning and ending at the First Christian Church in November (the exact date to be supplied later). After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.
Mr. Rodgers made a motion to allow the Police, Fire and EMS Departments to sell unused equipment on the govdeals.com website, with the profits returned to the Police, Fire and EMS Departments. Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes and Armstrong voting yes. The motion was declared passed.
Mr. Schramm ask Mr. Sutak if he could get a crew to cut the weeds around the Corporate Limit Sign on C.R. 22. The weeds are blocking clear access to the roadway.
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. Burns made a motion to note in the minutes that Council has received and accepted the payment of bills as noted in the Check Register for May, 2022. Mr. Schramm seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.
Mr. Burns made a motion to note that Council has received and reviewed the Financial Reports for the previous month of May, 2023. Mr. Shrodes seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Mr. Hunker seconded to accept the list of new hires for May, 2023 as submitted by the Auditor’s Office. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Rev. Agnew. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 7:26 p.m. with a salute to the flag.
Kay H. McFarlan, Clerk of Council Kristine Davis, Council President