City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of October 4, 2023

Posted on: October 19, 2023

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, October 4, 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.   Rev. Agnew informed President Davis that he needed to leave at 7:00 p.m.

            Minutes:  Minutes of the September 20, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  An email was received from the Walter Drane Company stating that 14 sets of 2023 Replacement Pages to the Martins Ferry Codified Ordinances have been sent to Joanne Regis.  A 2023 Adopting Ordinance was also sent. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  Due to budgetary constraints, Mayor Davies asked Council to create an ordinance to combine the Safety and Service Director positions.  It was noted that Mr. Sutak, the current Service Director, will not accept an increase in pay, at least through the end of the year. 

After researching the price of potable water with other cities, it was discovered that Martins Ferry is underpriced.  Beginning on November 1, the price per gallon will go from 1¢ to 2¢.  This price increase is only for water that comes directly out of the water plant (bulk sales).  This is not an increase to residential customers. 

The Mayor stated he would like to have a Real Estate Committee Meeting to discuss selling property owned by the city.  The proceeds would be placed in the General Fund.  The Mayor would like these properties appraised by a professional appraiser to help set a minimum bid.   

Water Plant Updates:  The Skadis Water System is in place.  Jeremy Shrodes explained when power was lost in Colerain, pumping capabilities were lost.  The generator did not kick on so a new panel has to be ordered which will cost around $1,500.  Quotes for a new air compressor are being received with the lowest one beginning at $341,000.  Mr. Suto retired as Water Superintendent on September 29 and a replacement has not been appointed.  A detailed maintenance plan has been prepared for the Water Plant.  The trees have been removed from around the Grandview Water Tank which satisfies the EPA regulations. 

Every Street that is going to be paved has been grinded and the paving has begun. 

The Mayor, Service Director, Auditor Regis, Finance Chairman and President Davis will meet on October 16 to look over the budget.   They will bring recommendations to Council at the next meeting. 

The Mayor recognized the Volunteers in the audience that help with the After School Program at the Recreation Center.  An Adult is in every room where there is a child.  The Mayor asked Council to keep the Recreation Center funding the same through the end of the year.  It is hoped that some of the money from the increase in the price of the bulk water can be funneled to the Recreation Program next year.

Service Director:  No report. 

Safety Director:  No report. 

            Auditor:  Mr. Regis reported the Police Department will end the year within budget if they keep the overtime to a minimum and follow the schedule presented to them.  After things get settled with the budget this year, Mr. Regis would like to meet with the Administration and Finance Committee to formulate a plan for next year so every department will know the amount of money allocated to them.  A special meeting may have to be held to pass legislation making the adjustments to the budget. 

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy was unable to attend this meeting but supplied every Council Member with an end of September Monthly 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:   Mr. Hunker said the Mayor and Auditor covered everything.   

Street: Mr. Rodgers reported that 4 streets are being paved in the city and things are looking great. 

Ordinance:  No report.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: Mr. Schramm will try and arrange a meeting to discuss the Vigilant Fire Station’s roof.

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  No report.

Real Estate/Utility:  Mr. Hunker will speak to Mr. Sutak about his availability to meet before setting a date for a Real Estate Committee Meeting. 

Income Tax:  Mrs. Armstrong informed Council that the Town Hall Meeting set for Monday, October 16 at 6:00 p.m. will be held upstairs in the gym of the Recreation Center (instead of the kitchen/meeting room downstairs as previously stated at the last Council Meeting.) President Davis requested the Income Tax and Finance Committee meet in the next couple of weeks, preferably before the Town Hall Meeting, so a clear, concise statement could be developed stating exactly where the income tax money would be spent. 

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

Lisa Bell, with the After School Program at the Recreation Center, passed out notebooks for Council to exam.  Included was the sign-in/sign-out log and permission slips from the child’s parent/guardian for access to the program.  There are around 50-60 kids every day who participate in this well-organized, structured program.  Many of these youth are at-risk and would be roaming the streets if this program wasn’t available. 

Henry Newhart, 402 North Zane Highway, asked the Mayor about the bushes on the lot at the corner of Ellet and 5th Street.  Mr. Newhart states that groundhogs and raccoons are residing in this area.  The Mayor explained there is a manpower shortage and said it will get done but could not give an exact time.  Mr. Newhart asked if the city could pour asphalt in a hole in the alley next to Falbo’s Barber Shop.  He states when it rains, he can’t get to the garage behind the Barber Shop because the hole fills up with water.  The Mayor said the city will try and get to it in a couple of weeks.    

Frances Green, 519 South Zane Highway, thanked the city for demolishing the dilapidated house across from her house.  The Mayor said the Land Bank was responsible for taking that house down.

Ben Bintz, Colerain, Ohio, President of the Martins Ferry Aquatic Club, gave a report on the summer session of the Club and thanked the city administration and the pool employees for their support.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, asked if the Mayor knew of any new economic development in the city.  Creative Customs, a silk screen shop, just opened a few weeks ago.  There may be some expansions of existing businesses coming soon.  Mr. Hord was told to contact Project Forward regarding designating properties as historic.  When asked about attending certain meetings, the Mayor replied that he is a member of the JB Green Team’s Board of Directors.  He or other city officials attend the other meetings mentioned by Mr. Hord as time and personnel availability permits.  The Water Plant is operating smoothly at this time with one employee in charge of the inside maintenance and another employee taking care of the outside jobs. 

Cynthia “Grandma” Johns, 705 Park Street, Volunteer for After School Program, asked Council to maintain the Recreation Center and continue to support the After School Program and kids that attend.

Rick Rodgers, 1307 North 7th Street, (spoke as a private citizen) has decided to run as a write-in candidate for the 4th Ward Council Seat.  He stressed that his name has to be spelled correctly and the “bubble” must be filled in. 

Tom Burns, Council-at-Large Member, thanked the Street Committee and the Administration for considering the request to pave Grant Avenue.  Mr. Burns and Jim Hall provided Traffic Control for the job which was deeply appreciated by the Wilson Blacktop Company. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.      






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Schramm made a motion to change the current ordinance and combine the positions of Service Director and Safety Director with the wage suspended in 2023.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Burns voting yes.  The motion was declared passed.

Motion was made by Mr. Hunker and seconded by Mrs. Armstrong to continue paying the wage of one dispatcher from the EMS wage line.  This issue will be revisited in 2024.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, and Schramm voting yes.  The motion was declared passed.

            Mayor Davies told Mr. Rodgers that if someone has maintained a piece of property for over 20 years, they are eligible to legally stake a claim to the property. 

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. Hunker.   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 September, 2023.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.  

 Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Hunker.  After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 7:06 p.m. with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

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