Ferry continues to seek help with city projects

T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER City Auditor Rita Randall discusses funding for the Eighth Street slip repair project with Martins Ferry City Council at the Martins Ferry Volunteer Fire Department Ladder Company station on Wednesday.

MARTINS FERRY — City Auditor Rita Randall told Martins Ferry City Council on Wednesday that $35,000 needs to be appropriated from the general fund to facilitate repair of the Eighth Street slip, and she is concerned about the city’s financial situation.

ADR Engineering, the company in charge of the project, informed Randall it will need the $35,000 for more planning and design work. The city had already paid $38,000 for preliminary planning, but more plans are needed.

At this point, the entire slip repair project is estimated to cost $699,000, according to Randall — $80,000 more than the original estimate of $619,000. A total of $309,000 in grant money has been obtained to fund the project, and a possible $200,000 Community Development Block Grant loan may be awarded, but that money will need to be paid back by the city.

For the project to go ahead, Councilman Rick Rodgers made a motion to approve $35,000 from the general fund to be used for permanent improvements for planning for the Eighth Street project. Council approved the appropriation.

Randall noted that the payment will leave $86,000 in the city’s general fund, with $50,000 of that already obligated for another slip repair.

“I told you we were going to run out of money soon,” Randall said.

“We haven’t heard one iota from the Governor’s (John Kasich) Office. The county right now is probably waiting to see what happens with everything else. I don’t think the county is going to be able to do anything, either. We are trying,” Krajnyak said.

Krajnyak added that Misty Tolzda of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association has been working to obtain grants for the project.

“They are trying their darnedest to get us the money without it being loans. I don’t know what else can be done. It’s been sought after pretty hard to try to get these funds,” Krajnyak said.

She noted that the preliminary planning costs for these types of projects are “typical,” and said the amount of grant and loan funding the city has been able to obtain so far is “pretty good these days.”

Martins Ferry resident Richard Hord said he has contacted the Governor’s Office on behalf of the city to bring awareness of the issue of the need for funding for projects like the Eighth Street collapse.

“I want to thank people for doing that. … They have heard a lot from Eastern Ohio. They know we’re here,” said Service Director Chris Cleary.

Meanwhile, council also discussed the possible razing of a dilapidated property on Jefferson Avenue. Krajnyak asked council to appropriate up to $10,000 for permanent improvements to demolish the “burned-out house.”

“It has become extremely unsafe. … Once the house is done, we will put the cost against the property on taxes and hope we recover something that way, or we will try to get some money back through the state,” said Krajnyak.

Council passed a motion made to appropriate the funds to have the building razed, contingent upon the legality of the action. Solicitor Paul Stecker said he would send a letter to one of the heirs of the now-deceased former owner of the property to ask if he would sign the property over to the city.

“In most cases these estates are insolvent, having more debt than assets,” Stecker said.

The next meeting of Martins Ferry City Council will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at the city building, as council approved a motion to change its next meeting date to a Thursday from its usual Wednesday because March 1 falls on Ash Wednesday.