City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of September 7, 2023

Posted on: October 5, 2023

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Thursday, September 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 by a prayer by the Clerk.   Answering Roll Call were Bob Hunker, First 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.  Excused:  Bruce Shrodes, Second Ward Council Member.   

            Minutes:  Minutes of the August 16, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  Correspondence was received from The Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control regarding an application for a liquor permit for the Bell Store 1074 located at 507 Crawford Street, Martins Ferry.  After consulting with Police Chief Murphy, who said the Department had no issues with the application, the form was signed by the Clerk and returned to the Division of Liquor Control. 

A letter from Mr. Bruce Shrodes was read announcing his resignation from Council, effective September 30, 2023.  The Republican Committee will need to fill this seat within 45 days. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  Street paving project bids have been received and the Cast and Baker Company was the lowest bidder at a cost of almost $158,000, which was lower than expected.  The engineers have approved the plan and the company assured the Mayor that the project would be finished by the end of the year.  Since there is still money available for paving, the Mayor ask Council to refer any additional streets they would like to see paved to the Street Committee. 

Water Superintendent Bill Suto has decided to retire, effective September 23, 2023. 

The Mayor and Mr. Sutak met with Water Plant experts and engineers regarding updates to the Water Plant.  It was estimated the Plant needs $6,000,000 in repairs.  Mayor Davies explained the recommendations and cost for the planned upgrades which need to be done in phases. 

A new hydraulic saw has been purchased to cut pipe which will save time and money when there is a water break.  The Water Department is also asking for Council’s permission to purchase a Valve Exerciser (valve turning machine) at a cost of $90,645.05.  The purchase would be paid through the Capital Projects Fund. 

Service Director:  Mr. Sutak has received an estimate of $90,645.05 for the Valve Exerciser.  The EPA mandates that this machine be used to turn every valve on and off once a year so they are clear and can be opened when needed.  Mr. Sutak will apply for an Ohio Public Works funding grant to help with the cost of the Valve Exerciser. 

Repairs to the Recreation Center’s cooling system are completed.  Maintenance work is now needed on the heat and air exchanger at the Center which will cost $3,944. 

Mr. Sutak has been working with a company to possibly install Solar Panels on several buildings in the city to help save on utility costs. 

There is a total of $42,269.65 in County Permissive Tax Money. This money can only be used for dedicated street paving. 

Safety Director:  Director Regis thanked everyone in the community for their support of the Betty Zane Festival sponsored by the Fire Department.  The EMS Department is now providing emergency and non-emergency transport service for the Shadyside Care Center.  Last fall, a family who had a grievance about an EMS call, filed a complaint with the State Division of EMS Board.  Today, the Board notified Martins Ferry EMS that there was no significant reason found to proceed with the investigation.  Mrs. Armstrong asked about the Auction of city vehicles.  Director Regis said they decided to change the way the sale would be handled and he still needs time to get things ready.  The Mayor said the K-9 Unit, with the damaged motor, has been put on a 14-day on-line auction site and has gotten a few bids. 

            Auditor:  Auditor Regis supplied every Council Member with a written report.  The state auditors have advised the city to close the books on November 22, 2023.  All Purchase Orders that are 60 days or older will be canceled.  The Auditors are not in favor of open purchase orders where parts can be purchased and then later a Purchase order is submitted.  It is understandable that the water department needs something like this in place because many times they need parts quickly. 

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Officer Vince West gave the end of August Police Department report.  Dr. Yurko, of KEY Animal Hospital in Wheeling, supplied free veterinary services to the city’s two K-9 officers. 

            Officer West reported that he was elected the F.O.P. President.  He reported that morale is low.   Officers have been working hard but are now discouraged because they must take compensation time instead of getting overtime pay.  In order to better understand the situation, the Mayor and Service Director took 20 minutes to explain the financial and budget constraints facing the city.  The Mayor will schedule a meeting between the administration and the F.O.P. sometime next week. 

            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 Finance Committee met on August 23 and will meet again on Monday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers.  Minutes of the August 23 Finance Meeting will be filed with these minutes.  The Mayor asked the Finance Committee to address Franchise Fees, which haven’t been increased for a long time.

Street: Mr. Rodgers scheduled a Street Committee Meeting on September 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss additional roads to be paved. 

Ordinance:  No report.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: Director Regis has asked that a meeting be scheduled to discuss a few items concerning the Fire Department. 

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  Mr. Burns did some trimming of weeds at the cemetery.  He also supplied water to the workers who are doing a good job keeping the cemetery looking great. 

Public Relations:  No report.

Real Estate/Utility:  Mr. Hunker scheduled a Utility Meeting for Monday, October 16, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers. 

Income Tax:  The committee met on Monday, August 21 (minutes of this meeting will be filed with the minutes of this Council Meeting).  Mrs. Armstrong asked Council for their thoughts on having a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the Income Tax Levy.   Tuesday, October 17 was suggested as a date for the Town Hall Meeting.   The Town Hall Meeting date will be finalized at the next Council Meeting. 

Citizens To Be Heard:  President Davis reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.  

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, ask about the future project plans for Columbia Gas.  President Davis spoke to a Columbia Gas worker who said there are two stages for the line replacement projects and they may not be back to Martins Ferry until next year.  Mayor Davies wants to have a meeting with Columbia Gas officials to discuss the condition of the roads after a job is completed.  He said the general rule of construction is to leave the road “as good or better” than what they found it.  There are no updates regarding the former Staffilino building.  The Mayor emphasized that every new employee hired and every new program started by East Ohio Regional Hospital benefits the city.  He also shared the difficulties in enforcing codes on dilapidated properties.  Mr. Hord wished Mr. Suto and Mr. Shrodes a happy retirement!

Tom Burns, Council-at-Large Member, reported that on August 21 he accompanied two Martins Ferry Police Officers on their 3-11 p.m. shift.  Both Officers were professional in their investigation that led to an arrest that evening.  Mr. Burns said the city is blessed to have such great law enforcement. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            An Ordinance Accepting The Road Described On Exhibit A As A Dedicated Municipal Public Street.  
           This Ordinance was given a third reading.  Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to postpone this motion indefinitely, pending clarification.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried. 






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Schramm made a motion to appropriate $3,944 from the Permanent Improvement Fund to be used for repairs to the heat exchanger at the Recreation Center.  Motion was seconded by Rev. Agnew.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Agnew voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Hunker made a motion and Mrs. Armstrong seconded to excuse Mr. Shrodes from tonight’s meeting.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed. 

Mr. Burns made a motion to appropriate $90,645 from the Capital Projects Fund 107 to purchase a Valve Turning Machine for the Water Department.  Motion was seconded by Schramm.  A roll call vote was heard with Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes.  The motion carried.  Mr. Stecker will be contacted to prepare an Ordinance for this purchase. 

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. Burns.   After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.  

Auditor Regis reminded Council of the reception for the First Co-Starters Cohort Class sponsored by Project Forward.  The reception will take place at Kendall Behavioral Solutions on September 14, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

             Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Burns.  After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m. with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry City Council will be held on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. at the City Building. 

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