City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of January 24, 2024

Posted on: February 8, 2024

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 6:00 p.m., in 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, Spencer Echemann, Second Ward Council Member; Suzanne Armstrong, Third Ward Council Member; Rick Rodgers, Fourth Ward Council Member; Ben Neiman and James Agnew, Council at Large Members.   Mr. Schramm had informed President Davis that he was unable to attend this meeting. 

            Minutes:  Minutes of the January 10, 2024 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

President Davis turned the meeting over to Mayor Davies who then swore into service 3 police officers and 8 gentlemen to the Fire Department including Fire Chief I and Chief II. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  A pre-construction meeting was held regarding the Force Main Project which will cover  the pump station to the force main down to Floral Valley.  The construction agreement will be signed on February 7 and the project will be completed by May 7.  A man-hole, near Grace Church, will soon be moved and replaced.  Cost will be around $20,000. 

About 240 tons of road salt have been used this year.  There is still 180 tons of salt in Cleveland that was purchased a few years ago which will be delivered to the city soon. 

The Mayor explained the problems with the new Garbage Truck (Packer).  This issue may have to go to litigation.

The Recreation Center has many bookings and rentals dates scheduled.  Open skating on Sundays and the After School Program has resumed. 

Next week the Mayor and Service Director will meet with the EPA to discuss Water Plant issues and possible growth to the system.  They also met with Peace Township and the Engineers on the Beretta Drive Project.  The funding for this project be awarded July 1, 2025 and the Mayor wants all the bids received by January, 2025 so the project can begin in the Spring. 

One of the owners of the 711 Elm Street property has signed a demolition agreement.  The city is holding $19,240 which was received from the insurance company for demolition.  Demolition companies have been contacted for bids. 

The Mayor will attend a School Board Meeting on February 13 to discuss the road situation.  The paperwork has been done to deed over Alumni Road to the School District.  Regarding School Road, the Mayor said the city is better equipped to maintain this street (snow removal, paint lines) and would be willing to continue to do this to ensure the safety of the kids traveling that road.  The Mayor wants to deed School Road back to the School District and then work out some kind of agreement with the school and property owner to get both roads fixed.  A Real Estate Attorney may be needed for this situation. 

Service Director:  Mr. Sutak updated Council on the current upgrades and work being done at the Water Plant (filter beds, contact tanks, #2 Service Pump, Ozone Room Specialized Equipment).

Mr. Sutak asked Council’s permission to enter into an agreement with ForeFront Technology to set up Cyber Security for the Water Plant’s computer systems.  This is need for insurance liability coverage. 

A funding grant has been submitted to the Department of Development for a sewer line project on Jefferson Street. Other sewer lines that need completed include Floral Valley to Turf Care (funding process started) and Hanover Street.  Mr. Sutak will continue to keep Council abreast of what work is being done and why it is being done. 

            Auditor:  Auditor Regis supplied Council with the current Payroll Summary and a Statement of Cash Position with MTD totals.  Beginning with the next meeting, these reports will only be projected on the screen during the live broadcast.  If a Council Member would like a paper copy, please notify Mr. Regis.   The State Auditors said they would be available to meet with Council for a Post-Audit Meeting on February 6, 7 or 8. 

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy reported the 25% Matching Grant that was awarded to the Police Department to purchase laptop computers and accessories for the cruisers expired December 31, 2023.  However, an extension deadline of February 29 was approved so the city could have more time to consider how to financially accept this grant.  The awarded amount is $25,000, of which the city would be responsible for $6,250.  Currently, 3 cars have been forfeited at the Impound Lot.  These cars are currently listed on an online auction.  Chief Murphy would like the money received from the sale of abandoned vehicles at the Impound Lot and any storage fees collected, to be placed in a separate line item designated for the purchase of new police cruisers. 

            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 stressed that the budget is tight and Council needs to watch it very closely this year. 

Street: There was no Street Department report but Mr. Rodgers wanted to remind citizens and businesses that they are responsible to remove snow from their sidewalks. 

Ordinance:  No report.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  Mr. Echemann spoke to Mr. Hord regarding the “Meet The Candidates” Night and will make plans to move forward with this project. 

Real Estate/Utility:  No report.

Income Tax: No report.

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

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, was given an update on code administration enforcement in the city.  Mr. Hord was told that the S.M.A.R.T. Building has been sold to a local business man and the Mayor does not know the future plans for the structure.  Mr. Echemann was thanked for his assistance in setting up a “Meet the Candidates” night.  Mr. Hord heard there have been discussions by the local Historical Society to get some buildings in the city designated as historical.   The Mayor said the process takes time and a lot of paperwork needs completed.  The former Curley property has been sold and will become a parking lot. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion and Rev. Agnew seconded to suspend the 72 hour rule.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, Agnew, Hunker and Echemann voting yes.  The motion carried and the 72 hour rule was suspended.  This Ordinance was given a first reading. 

An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 2014-17 In Regards To The Operator Of Record. 

              Motion was made by Mr. Hunker to suspend the rules.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Echemann.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, and Agnew voting yes.   The motion carried.   Motion was made by Mr. Rodgers to pass the Ordinance as read.  Rev. Agnew seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Neiman, Agnew, Hunker, Echemann and Armstrong voting yes.  The motion carried and the Ordinance was declared passed.






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Echemann made a motion to note that Council has received and reviewed the Payroll Summary and the Statement of Cash for period ending January 24, 2024.  Mr. Hunker seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, Agnew and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried.  

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion and Mr. Neiman seconded to allow the Mayor to proceed with the transfer of the School Road Property back to the Martins Ferry School District.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, Hunker and Echemann voting yes.  Rev. Agnew abstained.  The motion carried.

Mr. Echemann made a motion to excuse Mr. Schramm from tonight’s Council Meeting.  Rev. Agnew seconded the motion.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.

Mr. Hunker made a motion to allow the Service Director to enter into a contract agreement with ForeFront Technologies for Cyber Security for the Water Plant.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Echemann.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, and Agnew voting yes.   The motion carried.  

Council set Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. to meet with the State Auditors for an exit interview.

Chief Murphy’s request for assistance with the Laptop Grant was referred to Auditor Regis to see if the funding can be acquired from the Permanent Improvement Fund.  Council will re-visit this issue at the February 7th Meeting.

Council was reminded of the Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for Tom Kelly.  Proceeds from this event will help Mr. Kelly with his medical expenses.  The dinner will be held at the American Legion on Saturday, February 3, 2024 from noon to 6:00 p.m.

Council Members were reminded that they should have received a notice about filing a financial disclosure statement for 2024.  This statement needs filed by May 15. 

Mr. Regis suggested that Council Members meet and do the Sunshine Law Training together in Chambers.  President Davis asked Council Members to look at their schedules and let her know of a date they would like to meet. She will announce the date at the next meeting. 

Mr. Hunker 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.      

             Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Echemann.  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 on February 7, 2024 in Council Chambers at the City Building.

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