City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of February 7, 2024

Posted on: February 22, 2024

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, 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, Spencer Echemann, Second Ward Council Member; Suzanne Armstrong, Third Ward Council Member, Ben Neiman, James Agnew and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.   Rick Rodgers, Fourth Ward Council Member, informed President Davis that he was unable to attend this meeting. 

            Minutes:  Minutes of the January 24, 2024 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  Alumni Road has been deeded back to the School District and the city is waiting for confirmation that School Road has been successfully deeded back.  The Mayor will speak at the School Board Meeting on Feb. 13.  He feels the city, being better equipped, should continue with snow removal and pothole patching for School Road to ensure safety for the children traveling this road.  The city does clear Alumni Road to an extent so emergency vehicles can access the Hillendale/Crawford Heights area quicker.  The Mayor discussed issues with the 2006 Annexation Road Agreement between the city and the School District.  He was concerned that the School Administration requested that School Road be cleared on a Sunday because there was basketball practice scheduled.  This created overtime payroll expense for the Street Department that called out employees to clear the road. 

A sewer collapsed on Grant and Washington Streets.  The Mayor described how the city will proceed to fix this situation.  It will be costly for the city and should be repaired by next week.

A new pump, which costs about $17,000, is needed for the swimming pool and must be installed by professionals.  The Recreation Department does not have funds to purchase the pump and Council may be approached for financial help.  If a new pump isn’t secured, the pool may not be able to open.

The Mayor said it will cost around $11,000 to provide Fireworks and Entertainment for the Fourth of July Celebration in the Park this year.  Letters have been sent to businesses and organizations asking for donations. 

Service Director:  Items for improvement at the Water Plant, have been ordered.  It may take 4-12 weeks for the materials to arrive since some of the things need to be built specific to the Plant.                          

Last year, Mr. Sutak assumed the Safety Director’s responsibilities, which did not include a pay increase.  He asked Council to consider budgeting some of the original funds of the previous Safety Director Position into the Recreation Center funds to help with the swimming pool pump.  The suggested amount was $5,000. 

The EMS Levy needs to be voted on again in November, otherwise there will be no tax dollars for 2025.  Mr. Stecker said Council will need to decide whether they want the EMS Levy to be a 5 year levy or make it a continuing levy. 

The DEFA funding loan is set and will be for the sewer project near Turf Care. 

After 4 months in the repair shop, the new Garbage Packer is back and seems to be running well.  Law Director Stecker was consulted about approaching the Packer Company and asking for an extension of the warranty due to the months the city was without the services of the Packer. 

Auditor: Auditor Regis could not attend this meeting but did supply Council with a Statement of Cash Position with MTD Totals as of February 7, 2024. 

Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  No report.

            Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

            Park District: The Park Board met on Thursday, February 1 to pass a few items for the New Year and discuss temporary appropriations.  They will meet in a few weeks to discuss and pass permanent appropriations.  Two Members may possibly be added to the Board.  Mr. Sutak hoped the media would publicize that the city is looking for sponsors to help with the expenses of the Annual 4th of July Celebration in the Park.  Sponsor Names will be placed on a banner and displayed at the Park during the festivities. 

            Water Department:  No report.       

Reports of Committees of Council:   

            Finance and Audit:  Since Auditor Regis could not attend this meeting, a report was given to Mr. Hunker.  Mr. Hunker and the other committee members had questions about this information so a Finance Committee Meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, February 14 at 10:00 a.m.  There will be a post-audit meeting on February 8th at 10:00 a.m.

Street: No report.

Ordinance:  No report.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: Mr. Schramm will meet next week with the Fire Chief regarding what funds might be available to repair the roof at the Vigilant Fire Station. 

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  It was discovered that the library will have a “Meet the Candidates” Night for Congressional Candidates on Monday, February 12.   Therefore, the Committee will not be moving forward with a Candidates Night at this time.  Mr. Echemann attended the benefit dinner for Tom Kelly and reported it was a great event. 

Mr. Stecker noted that the Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet will be held on March 18 at the Recreation Center.  Tickets will soon go on sale.  Dr. Joseph Maroon will be the guest speaker.

Real Estate/Utility:  No report.

Income Tax: The Income Tax Committee met on February 1.  The meeting was designed to convey information only.  There were no decisions or recommendations. 

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

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, said there will be a “Meet the Candidate” session at the Martins Ferry Public Library on February 12 at 6:00 p.m.  These candidates will be vying for the office vacated by Ohio Representative Bill Johnson.  Regarding the house at 710 Elm Street, the Mayor said the city has entered into a contract with Edge Co, Inc. to demolish the structure.  Mr. Hord asked the city to check on the deteriorating conditions at 917 Virginia Street.  There were no updates on the former Staffilino Property.  There are no plans to replace the Water Superintendent at this time.  President Davis was hopeful that the next Council Meeting will be live streamed. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.     






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Neiman spoke to a citizen, living on Pearl Street, who is afraid his neighbor’s tree branches are encroaching on his property and house.  Mr. Stecker said this is a civil matter and the city cannot get involved.  Mr. Neiman was concerned about junk on the property at 418 North 5th. Street.  The Mayor was very familiar with the property since numerous letters and fines have been accessed to the owner.  The Mayor said he will send another letter tomorrow.  The idea of “Progressive Fining” for property violations was discussed (i.e. 1st offense, $250, 2nd offense, $500, 3rd offense, $1,000).  Council was asked to create an Ordinance dealing with “Progressive Fining” which would help in dealing with violations in Mayor’s Court.  President Davis referred this issue to the Ordinance Committee. 

The issue of the pool pump was referred to the Finance Committee. 

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to place the EMS levy on the ballot as a 5 year renewal levy.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Neiman, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, and Echemann voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Echemann noted that Council has reviewed the 2006 Annexation Road Agreement between the City and the School District. 

Mr. Hunker motioned and Rev. Agnew seconded that Council approve the January Financial Reports.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Neiman, Agnew and Schramm, voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Echemann motioned and Mr. Hunker seconded to approve the bills paid as evidenced by the check register received by Council.  A roll call vote was heard with Echemann, Armstrong, Neiman, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried.  

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 carried.  

The Mayor will check with the Belmont County Auditor’s Office regarding the process to begin foreclosure procedures on the property at 418 North 5th Street.  The property taxes have not been paid for a couple of years.  Mr. Sutak said this will not go through the Land Bank since there is no building on the site. 

             Mr. Echemann motioned and Rev. Agnew seconded to excuse Mr. Rodgers from tonight’s meeting.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried. 

             Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Neiman.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried and the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be held on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

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