Mucci steps down from board

BELLAIRE Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci resigned his position on the JB Green Team board after announcing that city council members voted unanimously last Thursday evening to oppose a designation fee requested by the solid waste authority.

JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Meyer presented his findings from a “sense of the community” survey at Monday’s board meeting which indicated that all of the voting representatives were on board for the fee with the exception of Steubenville.

Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile, who lobbied in favor of a $2 designation fee to help financially aid the cash-strapped solid waste authority, had made a motion to move forward with the change to the current plan and force an official public vote on the proposal.

The JB Green Team must receive support from the county commissioners in Belmont and Jefferson counties, the cities of Steubenville and Martins Ferry and 60 percent of the political subdivisions in both counties.

After the explanation by Meyer that the change would cost $10,000 and Steubenville, as the largest city in Jefferson County, along with Martins Ferry and the commissioners from Jefferson and Belmont counties will still have the power to veto the designation fee. After confirming Mucci’s announcement that his city would veto the fees, Gentile rescinded his motion.

“The designation fee will cost your residents 17 cents a month, or $2 a year. It will allow us to continue our current services and also allows us to tap into the oil and gas industry waste,” said Gentile.” However, after hearing the changes would cost $10,000 and had no chance of passing I have to vote against adding the fees to the current plan.”

The board was split nine to five on the first tally to move forward with the fees on the current plan but after Mayor Mark McVey, Barb Godwin and Mayor Paul Rithmiller pointed out the futility of the decision the board was unanimous on the rescinding vote to defer the fees onto the 2015 waste plan.

“I find it hard to believe that once it comes before the board of the individual townships that 60 percent would agree to it,” Mucci argued against the designation fee. “It has been a very long decision and I think our feelings have been known for a long time.’

“I am not comfortable being in the position to oppose a designation fee,” Mucci added. “It is our understanding that once it is implemented in the plan that it would forever remove the veto power of the Steubenville Council.”

The designation fee would mean communities taking municipal solid waste to landfills outside of Jefferson and Belmont counties would pay an extra fee.

“It is not an easy decision but after hearing from our business representatives we feel we must take this course of action,” Mucci told the committee. “We are in the business of hauling waste in Steubenville and by our calculations, based on tonnage, the fee would cost $2.65 per household for our residents.”

“Our city council would be faced with asking our citizens to pay more for their sanitation services,” noted Mucci. “There is a lot to all of this. I am not quite sure, especially when you analyze and try to determine fees with an unknown factor.”

Meyer explained that with that option off the table there were two other options available to the board

“The board can decide to implement a tax assessment in July 2014 effective until 2015 or the board can take no action and wait for action from the Ohio EPA with the ratification of the new 2015 Solid Waste Plan,” Meyer said. “It is up to the board to decide what options they are choosing and direct me how to go forward.”

The board moved to have the finance and planning committees review a plan to implement a tax on the 64,000 improved parcels in the two counties.

“With the declining tonnage at APEX it is going to be tough to estimate the tax rate,” Meyer explained.”These have to be submitted to the county auditors by July.”

The decision will not effect the new plan for 2015 which includes line items for both a designation fee and a tax. Mucci and JB Green Team legal adviser John Mascio disagreed on the ratification process for the new plan. Mascio contended that all decisions on the fees in the new plan would be solely reliant upon the approval of the board. Mucci contended that the city of Steubenville would have the power to veto the fees in the new plan as well.

Mascio was given the directive to further study the matter while Meyer added the new plan would have an option built in where if a line item for fees were vetoed that those funds added to the tax line item so no revenue would be lost. “We are awaiting a decision before contacting GT Environmental and giving them the final requirements for the new Solid Waste Management Plan.”

Meyer also announced that one grant request by the JB Green team had been denied but a second grant submitted by Tammy Shepherd, Belmont County Recycling Program director was approved. Shepherd explained that the grant was for $5,640 and covered a year long period beginning July 1 of this year targeting illegal dump sites.

“They expect with the decline in collections for electronics, mattress and tires there will be an increase in illegal dumping,” Shepherd told the board. “We will target three sites chosen by litter control officers in each county for clean up.”

Following the clean up the sites will be patrolled by deputies and monitored by trail cameras,” Shepherd explained. “This is connected with a study of the effectiveness of the clean up, the litter officers feel that if the site is clean we can better determine new violations and find who is doing the dumping.”

The study will concentrate on determining if the clean up is a deterrent to future dumping at the sites.

Dave Hay’s announced in the Financial Officer’s report that the net operating loss for April was $61,517.41. hays attributed the deficit to several large annual expenditures for hospitalization, Workers compensation, insurance and the last payment to the Belmont County Litter Enforcement Officer and a significant decrease in tonnage at the landfill. Meyer also added that the landfill had lost Chesapeake as a client for drill cuttings.

The board also accepted a letter of resignation from long time board representative John Abdalla. Mayor McVey moved to recognize Abdalla for his long term of service to the board which was unanimously approved.

A designation for the vacant position will be determined by the personnel committee while by board policy Steubenville City Manager Timothy Boland will replace Mayor Mucci. The mayor will remain as the designee for the city but can not vote when attending as an alternate.

The next meeting of the board will be held June 9 in Steubenville.

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com