Ferry’s impound lot plans changed

MARTINS FERRY – The ordinance authorizing the City of Martins Ferry to operate an impound lot isn’t a month old yet and there have already been changes to the proposed plan.

There are also a few lingering question marks.

Safety/Service Director John Davies told council Thursday that he has reconsidered the location of the lot itself, likely opting for next to the city’s EMS building on the former Robert’s Pontiac location.

That lot is already monitored by cameras but would still need fencing to protect the vehicles.

The reasoning for the shift from the water plant was the lot down off First St. could become an issue should the Ohio River decide to reach flood stage.

Currently, the city utilizes Naylor Brothers Service Center in town for its towing and impound needs.

The idea was that Naylor Brothers would still provide the towing services, but only to the city’s impound lot instead of its own.

Councilman Paul Riethmiller brought up Thursday that no one had checked with Naylor Brothers about the change.

“I spoke with Naylors this week and he is upset about the impound lot,” Riethmiller said. “He never made an agreement to tow to the city’s lot.

“Not only is he concerned about the loss of his business, but he doesn’t believe the city fully realizes all the extra work that’s involved with operating the lot.”

Riethmiller explained Ron Naylor pointed out the time taking for paperwork, performing full vehicle inventory prior to impounding and other difficulties which may pose as time constraints for the city’s police department.

Naylor Brothers employs two full-time people just for the impound lot.

Davies said he’d talked with Naylor Brothers a few times and added that “If he doesn’t want to tow for us, we’ll have to put it out for bid.”

There was no further discussion on the matter.

Riethmiller then turned his inquiries toward multiple reports and complaints he’d heard from city residents about seeing city vehicles purchasing gas at the Sunoco in Aetnaville.

He explained there are four gas stations in town, including three that are independently owned, the Marathon, Naylor Brothers and the Starfire across from Convenient. The Starfire station near Wendy’s is also in town, but is a company-owned station.

Davies responded that the city vehicles utilize the independent stations in town but that a few of the vehicles do go to the Sunoco in Aetnaville.

“I’d say probably six or seven of our vehicles go to the Sunoco,” Davies said. “It’s mainly the water trucks.”

There was a question about eliminating taxes at the pump, which amounted to roughly 20 center per gallon in savings.

It was asked if Naylor Brothers and the other independent stations gave the difference in taxes back at the end of the month. Davies and City Auditor Rita Randall were not sure and said they would check and return with an answer.

Riethmiller argued that if a refund check was issued at the end of each month, than 30 days wasn’t out of the question to ensure the city vehicles were filling up with the businesses in town.

Between the impound lot and gas questions, Davies eventually had enough.

“It’s your job to fund the general fund and this council has not done one thing to increase revenue to that,” Davies said. “This saves money and the impound lot will create funding.

“I’ve taken care of every other department and fund and it’s your jobs to fund the general fund and you’ve failed.”

Councilman Bob Hunker commented that if there isn’t a rebate at the end of the month, 20 cents per gallon for every fill up is substantial savings for the city.

Davies then stated at how beneficial the relationship between the city and Naylor Brothers has been through the years. All the police vehicles are serviced at Naylor Brothers and the city has always received a great deal.

To which Riethmiller responded that was all the more reason to purchase gas from Naylor Brothers, as well as the other independent stations in town.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com