Ferry moves forward with $255K street sweeper purchase

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MARTINS FERRY Mayor Robert Krajnyak, right, chats with City Councilmen Robert Hunker, left, and James Schramm, center, after Wednesday’s meeting.

MARTINS FERRY — City Council is moving forward with plans to purchase another new street sweeper after the current one continued to overheat on hilly streets.

During a regular meeting Wednesday, Martins Ferry City Council unanimously approved spending $255,079 with Southeastern Equipment for the machine manufactured by Schwartz Industries.

Before a vote was taken there was some discussion, prompted by Councilman Bruce Shrodes, about whether the city should be buying another machine from the same company.

Shrodes said whether it was by accident or on purpose, the company sold the city the wrong size sweeper. It apparently did not have enough power for hills, something the city has plenty of.

“It had the worst warranty I ever heard of,” Shrodes noted.

Service Director Scott Porter said because of the issues with the original machine the company has agreed to give back $140,000. However, since the city still owes $118,000 on its original bank loan for the sweeper, the new payment with financing for the new machine will be $38,681 per year for seven years. The previous payment was $23,500 per year for seven years.

Shrodes said he would only be willing to vote for buying another machine with the same company if it had a much better warranty attached to it. Porter said the new machine would have a four-year warranty that covers all parts and labor.

He noted the new machine has much more horsepower and can take the hills.

“We had it out almost four hours,” he said, noting it did not overheat during that time.

In other matters, Porter said city workers spent much of the day replacing 30-feet of sewer line in an alley between Third and Fourth streets near Hanover Street. The pipe had become clogged, apparently with grease from a nearby Chinese food restaurant, New Hong Kong, Porter said.

Porter said the business may not have grease traps, which may have led to pipe getting clogged. He said the county health department is expected to inspect whether there are traps installed.

“One hundred feet of pipe was clogged,” Porter said, noting the city used its new Vacall truck to unclog the pipe.

Meanwhile, Porter said the city needed to start working on getting four Ohio EPA-mandated projects — related to stormsewer separations and downspouts — started before it incurs anymore fines in the future. The city recently was fined $5,000 for not having a sewage lift station fixed in the northern part of the city. The city, with grant help from the East Ohio Regional Water Authority, is preparing to get the station repaired.

Council decided to hold a committee meeting at later date to begin prioritizing the projects.

Council also approved allowing the city’s water department to purchase the volunteer fire department’s old pumper truck for $25,000. The VFD had tried to sell the vehicle, but could not find a serious buyer. The money will be used to pay back the city the VFD borrowed to help outfit its new fire engine. If the water department ends up finding a buyer for the truck, the money from the sale will be given back to the city’s permanent improvement fund.

In the meantime, Water Department Superintendent Bill Suto said the water department will use the truck to help in getting water to fracking trucks purchasing water from the city, Krajnyak said.

Also, council approved increasing its Comcast video license agreement, formerly called franchise fee, from 3 percent to 5 percent. This is expected to generate $103,000 per year for the city compared to $62,000 previously. 2004 was the last year the fee was increased by council.

Project Forward committee member Holly Eckert informed council the Martins Ferry Strawberry Festival is set for noon to 8 p.m. June 8 in the downtown. The festival will feature food trucks, craft vendors, beer garden, classic car show, strawberry shortcake, strawberry market, a strawberry pancake breakfast, music and more.