Ferry council focuses on 2013

MARTINS FERRY – City council closed out the year with its final meeting of 2012 and turned an eye to continuing projects in 2013.

Mayor Paul Riethmiller passed around information concerning House Bill 601 and the state’s proposed oversight of municipal income tax operations, which would lead to a future push for state centralized collection. In January, he will ask council to pass a resolution opposing the bill.

“The state wants to tell us what to do with our money and sent back what they deem necessary,” he said.

He also reported a safety meeting where the Suriano shortcut roadway leading to the Hillandale section of the city was discussed. The shortcut will be made one-way downhill beginning Jan. 2. Several barriers will be erected on the slip area and signs will be posted. Apologies go to the residents, but safety is the priority until the slip is repaired.

Riethmiller also complimented the service and safety directors and Police Chief and Belmont County Drug Task Force Commander John McFarland for all they have achieved this past year. He complimented McFarland and the officers for the five drug busts reported since Sunday.

In other matters, Service Director Charles Bennett reported rain has slowed down cold patching of potholes. Graveling of alleys continue. He reported the runoff and icing problems on 11th Street has been dealt with. Thanks go to the Dellers for allowing the city to trench across their property.

Also, the chipper is up and running. In addition, residents are asked to put their cans out early Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The city will run an extra truck. For Christmas and New Year’s Day, the trash will be picked up Wednesday.

In matters of law enforcement, Safety Director William Suto noted continuing training of officers in issues such as cellular phone investigation.

Fire Chief Jack Regis reported that Chief Michael Reese was re-elected for a two-year term. He noted the department is looking into long-term planning. The department will purchase a new fire truck thanks to the 1-mill five year renewal levy approved last year. He noted that the cost of the truck has increased since 2005, from $150,000-$180,000. Within the next seven years another engine will need replaced, and a ladder truck in 10 to 12 years. Prices, meanwhile, will likely continue to rise.

The boiler at the Alert Station has been repaired.

Regis also noted complaints of a phone scam involving individuals posing as fire department members and asking for donations. He advised contacting the police in the event of suspicious calls.

Water Superintendent Craig Harris reported repairs to water breaks, water meters and hydrants. The altitude valve at the Sunset Heights tank has been rebuilt. He is also updating the contingency plans for water emergencies as per EPA requirements.

In addition, council passed an ordinance authorizing Bennett to solicit bids and contract for the replacement and reprogramming of service and water department radios for narrow band requirements as well as computers for assistance.

Council motioned to give the fire department $10,000 for new gear.

Council passed an ordinance offering the EMS a 50 cent per hour shift differential for part-time employees. Council passed ordinances to raise the salaries of the EMS captain $27,500 to $30,000 and the EMS supervisor from $24,999 to $27,500.

Council passed temporary and year-end appropriations. Council Member Robert Krajnyak voted in opposition and suggested creating a line in the general fund for unappropriated monies to better keep track of the oil and gas funds. Riethmiller said he would discuss the possibility with the city solicitor.

The cost allocation plan will be reviewed and possibly passed during the next meeting.

Also, 20 more Crime Watch signs are available.

The finance committee will meet Jan. 28, 5:30 p.m.

A town hall will be scheduled for mid-January to discuss the proposed Hanover Street camera.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com