Ferry water rates on the rise

MARTINS FERRY – During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Service Director Charles Bennett reported numerous waterline breaks have resulted in an increase in water rates.

He noted the loss of revenue from steel mill and the lack of revenue from meters. Bennett added that supply changes have been made to save about $6,000 annually. The water plant’s new electric rate should save about $18,000 per year. This will be insufficient to cover losses and expenses.

The average increase will amount to about $4.50 per month in town for residents for a total of $54 yearly. Should the potential sale of water to outside sources occur this year, the rates might be re-examined.

Mayor Paul Riethmiller reported that tickets will be issued to individuals who drop their children off at the bus zones of the schools. He noted there have been numerous complaints and the city has placed signs forbidding the activity. The police also have issued verbal warnings which have been ignored.

“They have no right to be there, and it’s a safety issue,” he said.

In other matters, he added that he and other city officials and one of the commissioners will meet with Ohio Department of Transportation officials next month to discuss issues such as traffic cameras, rights of way, future updates to Ohio 7, the Floral Valley wall and the slip on Ohio 647 on Colerain Pike.

Safety Director William Suto reported that a sergeant has quit. Jerry Murphy was promoted to sergeant and Patrolman Mika Armstrong was promoted to full-time. A new cruiser should be received Tuesday.

In addition, no major snow issues have occurred since last meeting. Cold patching has continued and traffic signs have been installed.

Council approved a request by Director of Development Kathy Wade-Gagin to attend three days of Ohio Department of Development conferences.

Council will prepare an ordinance to give part-time emergency medical services employees a 25-cent hourly raise and a 50-cent raise to employees who hold or obtain a West Virginia license.

Council moved to provide the city auditor up to $30,000 from the general fund for the water plant to carry through this month.

Council moved to use $250,000 of the $540,468 carryover to set up this year’s budget. The amount can be adjusted at the next finance meeting. Councilman Robert Krajnyak dissented.

The finance committee will meet Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Items to be discussed include the budget and to consider giving $10,000 to the fire department for new gear.

Council moved to approve $1,000 to allow for discussion of zoning laws regarding the planned re-establishment of the zoning board in order to re-zone the city. Riethmiller noted that individuals have expressed interest in development activities that will require a zoning board hearing. He asked for recommendations.

A public relations meeting will be held Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.

Council moved to expend $3,850 from the cemetery fund for the Walnut Grove fence.

Council held the first reading of an ordinance to establish minimum wage. The ordinance must be passed before any new part-time hirings.

Council held the first reading of ordinances pledging $400 for perpetual upkeep of nine graves at Riverside Cemetery.

Also, the hospital will permit the construction of a storage building for city equipment and mowers on their property. An estimation will be obtained.

The annual town hall is set for Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Center.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com.