Landlords must register properties or face fines

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MARTINS FERRY Councilman Jack Regis Sr. reads over a document during Wednesday’s regular council meeting.

MARTINS FERRY — The city plans to start enforcing an existing law on its books with the hope of garnering more money for its coffers.

During a regular Martins Ferry City Council meeting Wednesday, council approved an amended version of a 2009 ordinance that states rental property owners must register their properties. Under the revised ordinance, rental property owners must start registering their properties by April 15, 2019.

Councilman Jack Regis Sr. abstained from voting on the measure. He said he believes council should have allowed the amended ordinance to go through the usual three readings process. Council voted to dispense of the three-reading rule.

Councilman Bruce Shrodes said related paperwork soon will be available at the auditor’s office on the second floor of the city building on Fifth Street. Per the revised ordinance, those who do not register their rental properties will face a $150 fine.

Each time a property has a new tenant, the landlord has 30 days to file a report with the city giving the renters’ names and addresses. The city also must be notified when a tenant leaves.

After the meeting, City Attorney Paul Stecker said the purpose of the ordinance is to help the city collect more income tax, in addition to helping provide information to law enforcement, if needed.

“The intention of the ordinance is to make sure we’re catching all of the residents who are living in the city so we are collecting income tax from them,” Stecker said.

The income tax is the city’s biggest source of revenue at about $1.5 million annually.

In other matters, North Eighth Street resident William Graff said he came home Sunday to find a tree branch overhanging from city property had partially ripped a phone line off his home. Graff complained during a past meeting about the overgrown trees and possible damage to his home from them. He was told in the past the city would look into having them trimmed back or removed. Service Director Scott Porter said he would take a look at the trees this week. Graff said he’s been complaining and asking help regarding trees, which hang over from the Riverview Cemetery property, for years.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Mayor Robert Krajnyak called and said he was feeling sick could not attend the meeting.

Also, Boy Scout Mason Kyer, 17, of St. Clairsville, plans to hold a rededication of the Civil War cannon at noon Sunday in the historic Walnut Grove Cemetery. Kyer raised money to replace the chassis on the cannon as part of his Eagle Scout project. The carriage was made and installed by Steen Cannon and Ordnance Works of Ashland, Kentucky.

Kyer, a scout with Troop 59 in St. Clairsville, is the son of Curtis and Brenda Kyer.

In other business, council also discussed the possible removal of some stop signs along Zane Highway. Councilman James Schramm said some residents have told him they would like a few removed because the city school is no longer in town. Shrodes commented that it was believed the signs were put in after traffic lights were removed. It was believed that the signs would slow motorists down. Schramm said, however, that if people are speeding, the limit should be enforced by the police department.

Also, Councilman Rick Rodgers asked Porter to fill in some holes at the bottom of Cemetery Road, among other locations. Porter said he would see to it and check out Rodgers’ concerns regarding puddling on First Street.

Shrodes also asked the city’s ordinance regarding the prohibition of temporary signage, such as from businesses or for yard sales, on city property be enforced.

Councilman Tom Burns also shared a note of thanks he texted to police Chief John McFarland regarding his officers’ response to a lockdown conducted Monday at Ayers Elementary School.

“I am very proud of each of you. Your bravery, dedication and loyalty is what makes us proud,” he said. “We’ll always support you. May God bless your work and keep each of you safe in his care.”

Burns added, “I really think a lot of them.”

Thomas J. Smith, 35, of 108 Industry St., Powhatan, was arrested later Monday for allegedly threatening to harm a woman’s children who attend school there. He was charged with terroristic threats, aggravated menacing, inducing panic and telecommunication harassment. He is being held on $23,500 in total bonds at the Belmont County Jail.