City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of March 6, 2024

Posted on: April 2, 2024

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, March 6, 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 with 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; James Agnew and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.   Ben Neiman, Council at Large Member, informed President Davis that he was unable to attend this meeting.  President Davis noted this meeting was a “soft opening” for the live-streaming system. 

            Minutes:  Minutes of the February 21, 2024 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  The Street Sweeper recently had some minor issues fixed and was running today to pick up grit on the heavily traveled streets.  It will officially begin running in April.  Tickets will only be issued to vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street in April and November, which will be the only 2 months the Sweeper will run. 

Mayor Davies asked Council to consider raising the Part-Time EMS/Paramedics salary by $1.  Mary Greer has accepted the full-time EMS supervisor position at $40,000 per year with no benefits.  Mr. Stecker said she may have to sign a waiver of the benefits since it is a policy for supervisors to receive benefits. 

Repairs to the Swimming Pool are estimated at $27,000.  A decision regarding funding for this project needs to be made quickly if the pool is to open on time and be ready for the Swim Team. 

The Fire Department will partner with the City to secure funding for the fireworks for the July Celebration in the Park (July 6) and Betty Zane Days (August).   The Mayor also asked Council for permission to hold a food drive on the corner of Zane Highway and Carlisle Street. 

The issue of trash in the city was addressed.  The Mayor proposed beginning in April, if a bag of trash is on the ground and not in a covered trash can, $3 per bag will be added to the homeowner or landlord’s utility bill.  If it’s not paid, utilities will be ceased.  Currently, there is over $79,000 in delinquent water bills. 

The Mayor asked for an Executive Session towards the end of the meeting to discuss contracts and personnel. 

Service/Safetly Director:  Mr. Sutak and some of the Water Department Employees will be meeting soon with the Engineers to review the submittals for the upgrades to the Water Plant.  This will insure all improvements are accurate and safeguards are in place. 

Senator Sherrod Brown’s office has supplied the city with a packet of possible funding opportunities for the Alumni Road Repair Project.  Mr. Sutak will review this material to see if any of the funding specifically fits the situation with the school roads.  If a grant is found, Mr. Sutak will check with Senator Brown’s office to see if it fits the criteria, and if it does, he will apply for the funding. 

Council was then updated on the progress of the Water Plant improvements.  

            Auditor:   Auditor Regis supplied Council with the most recent Financial Reports.  He also shared Belmont County’s E-911 Centralized Dispatch Final Plan Report, noting that Martins Ferry was the only city not represented on the County’s Advisory Board.  The budget should be sent to Council for review by March 15.  Present Davis noted that there may not be enough Council Members present on March 20 to suspend the rules to pass the budget.  Consideration to change the March 20th meeting will be addressed under Miscellaneous Business.

            Auditor Regis informed Council that $27,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund could be used for the pool repairs.  As donations and fundraising monies are received, the Fund can be reimbursed.  This can insure repairs can be made timely and the pool can open as scheduled. 

            Auditor Regis praised the well behaved Martins Ferry Students who traveled to Union Local High School to cheer on the Basketball Team to victory on March 5. 

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy gave the end of February Police Report.  The phone recording system has been updated and installed. Employee training on the system is complete. 

            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 will schedule a Finance Committee Meeting after Council Members have a chance to review the Budget. 

Street: No report.

Ordinance:  Rev. Agnew will schedule a Committee Meeting next week to create an Ordinance on “Progressive Fining” which would help in dealing with violations in Mayor’s Court. 

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  Councilman Echemann attended the Fire Department’s 300 Club Party.  It was a wonderful community event. 

Code Administration:  No report.

Real Estate/Utility:  The Real Estate Committee met on February 22.  The committee recommends not selling the property in Crawford Heights at this time.  This area can be used as a “lay down yard” for the contractor who will be doing road work in the area.  If the property is sold, the city would be charged a fee to store the equipment someplace else. 

The Mayor and the Safety/Service Director informed the Committee that many of the city’s properties have transfer, deed and survey issues.  The Committee recommends the Service/Safety Director hire a Real Estate Attorney to research and resolve the city-owned property issues. 

Income Tax: No report.

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

Michael Bianconi, Pease Township Trustee, distributed information on the Township’s Free Clean-Up Day on March 23.  Mr. Sutak said he would put this information on the city’s website.  Mr. Bianconi also thanked the Mayor, Service Director and Council for working with the Township on the road project in Crawford Heights. 

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, mentioned Belmont College would be conducting classes in the city again which was very positive.  The Mayor clarified the Street Sweeper will only run in the months of April and November.  Retired Sargent Beth Scales will be honored at a future Council Meeting. Future plans for the old Lamplighter property and the adjoining parking lot were not known.  The Mayor told Mr. Hord the Aetnaville Bridge will be torn down sometime next year and that is all that is known at this time.

Ordinances and Resolutions

An Ordinance Amending The Salary For The Position of Temporary Operator of Record.

             This Ordinance was given a first reading.  The Ordinance will go to a second reading.






Miscellaneous Business:  

Mr. Schramm made a motion to appropriate a $27,000 loan from the Permanent Improvement Fund to be used for the replacement of the swimming pool pump.  Rev. Agnew seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Agnew voting yes.  The motion carried.  The President of the Aquatic Club thanked Council for this motion.  He said fundraising will begin shortly to raise money to help payback this loan from the Permanent Improvement Fund. 

Mr. Echemann made a motion to approve the February, 2024 Financial Reports and the Check Register as received from the Auditor’s Office.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers.  A roll call vote was heard with Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion was declared passed. 

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.  

            The Mayor asked Council to consider advertising the property at 1200 North 9th St. for bid.  Mr. Sutak will check on the original value of the property and recommend a minimum bid and any other requirements that might be needed.  This will be discussed at the next Ordinance Committee Meeting. 

            Mr. Schramm made a motion to move the March 20th Council Meeting to March 27th .  Mr. Hunker seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Agnew voting yes.  The motion carried. 

            Mrs. Armstrong asked the Mayor and Service/Safety Director to research Real Estate Attorneys and bring in recommendations to the next Council Meeting. 

            At the next meeting, Mr. Stecker will bring in an ordinance for a $1 salary increase for part-time EMT, EMTB and Paramedic employees.  Effective date will be when the ordinance passes. 

            Mr. Hunker made a motion for Council to go into Executive Session under Ohio Revised Code 121-22, G1 and G2 for Contracts and Personnel.  Rev. Agnew seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion carried and Council went into Executive Session.  

            Mr. Hunker made a motion to go out of Executive Session.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion carried and Council returned to regular session. 

            Mayor Davies told Chief Murphy that Council approved the implementation of a new Sargent. 

Mr. Echemann made a motion and Rev. Agnew seconded to excuse Mr. Neiman from tonight’s meeting.  After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.            

             Mr. Hunker moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Rev. Agnew.  After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be held on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

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