St. C. income tax uncertain

ST. CLAIRSVILLE City council reviewed infrastructure plans and the state’s impact on the area’s finances during its regular meeting Monday night.

Mayor Robert Vincenzo reported attending a recent annual convention of the Ohio Municipal League in Cleveland and reviewing information released last Monday and Tuesday concerning House Bill 607, which would reorganize the state’s municipal income tax distribution system.

“To make it more uniform, and also to cause a lot of loss of revenue,” he said.

Vincenzo said he is working on a resolution to reflect the amounts of money the new proposed bill would cost the city. The resolution would oppose the bill and be sent to the state legislature and the municipal league.

“It will eliminate a lot of the revenue we have coming in,” he said, noting that some cities may see a loss of millions of dollars. The amount for St. Clairsville should not be so severe.

Vincenzo added that the state house would hold five informational hearing between now and the end of the year. Local municipalities will testify. Vincenzo voiced the hope that the state might alter its stance.

“Right now they are not bending,” he said, noting that every one of the municipal league’s suggestions has been rejected.

In other matters, Service Director Dennis Bigler brought several questions of infrastructure and the city policies toward repair and replacement before council. He noted a possible future issue of private service line requests for work on a backflow preventer valve. While normally this would be the citizen’s responsibility, 25 years prior the city had placed about 30 them on lines at city expense if the customers had wastewater flooding.

Council members inquired what the city’s legal obligation would be in the event of a request. Law Director Al Davies said council could decide either way. Council Member Perry Jones noted that a vote of assent could affect future city policies. Council tabled the matter for further discussion.

He also put forward a proposal for a pipe lining project Lower Hutchinson between the Catholic Church office and Belmont Savings. He said the clay line has been televised and every joint is in poor condition with heavy leakage of water. A faulty storm sewer in the same area has also been televised and requires work.

Bigler added that the position of the line between buildings and beneath a retaining wall complicates the job.

“This is a nasty piece of line,” he said.

He recommended hiring Miller Pipeline out of Indianapolis, noting that they had performed a similar job on the East End several years ago. He said local contractors do not have the necessary equipment. He added that the cost of the lining would be about $25,000, with manhole lining coming to $6,000.

Bigler added that since the project was less than $50,000 it was not necessary to bid out. Work could begin early to mid December and likely be completed in a matter of days.

Council motioned to approve the proposal.

In addition, Bigler noted St. Clairsville was in need of an upgrade in its meter reading system. He said the current method of employees collecting and inputting data manually is obsolete and a drain of time and money. It takes 10 workers about three days each per month to read the 2,600 billing locations in the system.

The city has two options for an automated meter reading system. St. Clairsville could install a drive by system could allow an equipped vehicle to receive date while driving down the streets. The computer could receive data from five streets at a time. The system would be one-way, with data transmitted from the meter to the city.

A second possibility would be a two way system that offers communications from a customer’s meter, but would also allow the city to query that meter for re-reads or to monitor for leaks in the customer’s system or shut off service if necessary.

Bigler noted that 69 meters are currently not working and will need replacing.

The city expects to issue project bids before the end of 2012. Council approved an ordinance directing Bigler to solicit competitive bids from prequalified bidders for water and electric meters and authorizing an expenditure of $25,000.

In other matters, a planning and zoning committee meeting will be held Dec. 3, 6 p.m. Seven single family homes have been proposed for Ashburn Greene.

Council accepted rates as determined by the budget commission.

The fire board will meet Nov. 28, 4:30 p.m.

Residents are asked to consider the fire and park levies on Election Day.

DeFrank can be reached at