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Council to consider break on water bills

The Ironton City Council may make it a little cheaper to cool off.

With the dog days of summer approaching, council is considering offering a break on water bills to residents who use large volumes of water once a year to fill swimming pools or other summertime activities.

Originally discussed last year, the ordinance was not given a first reading Thursday because it was referred back to the Finance Committee for further discussion. It will be on the agenda at the next finance meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 22 in the City Center.

If adopted by council, residents could apply to waive the sewer fee charges on their water service for one month if it exceeds their average monthly use by 100 percent.

The sewer fee waiver only applies to the water usage above the monthly average because it is not going into the sewer system. The waiver could only be used once per calendar year.

Council took advantage of the short agenda to ask Mayor Bob Cleary and Economic Development Director Matt Ward for updates on two ongoing matters -- the status of the Memorial Hall building and the search for an alternative cable provider.

A few months ago, Cleary had hoped to be able to make repairs to the building and find a way to utilize it in some way, but a recent visit made him reevaluate that plan.

The roof leaks severely and the building would require massive renovations before it could be used for anything, he said.

"It is unbelievable how much this building has deteriorated in the past year," Cleary said. "I do not believe the city, considering our financial situation, can do any type of restoration project to make it usable."

The building would be very costly to demolish and there is no chance that it will collapse, Cleary said.

In regards to the city's dissatisfaction with Adelphia and the search for an alternative, Ward said he has had discussions with Armstrong Cable of South Point.

It may be too costly for Armstrong to provide its own equipment and compete with Adelphia, so it may see if Adelphia is interested in selling its equipment, Ward said.

"Maybe if Armstrong understood the sentiments in the community, it would help them make a decision," Councilman Richard Price said. "Everyone I know would switch over."

Also, Council unanimously adopted the tax budget for the 2004 fiscal year that begins in January. The tax budget is basically a formality that allows the city to receive a projection of property tax revenues from the Lawrence County Auditor's Office to use in the budgeting process, said Cindy Anderson, city finance director.

The projected amounts will be about the same as last year and the city normally receives more than is projected, she said.

Chris Kline, Lawrence County’s chief deputy auditor, said the tax revenue projections for 2003 were $242,800 to the General Fund,

$104,508 to the Floodwall Levy, $42,849 to the Recreation Levy, and $33,413 to both the Police Pension Fund and Fire Pension Fund. The city has not yet received all of the actual amounts this year.

The projections are approximately 90 to 95 percent of what the city should actually receive in 2004, Kline said.

In other business, Council:

4Heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to award bids for the dewatering of sludge from the wastewater treatment plant to MSD Environmental Services, Inc. The contract is for $99 per dry ton of sludge dewatered. The dry sludge, basically manure, will be disposed of on farms in the county. Council Chairman Jesse Roberts said there are still some questions that need answered before council passes the ordinance.

4Approved the appointment of Mayor Cleary to serve on the District 15 Ohio Public Works Integrating Committee for a three-year term. Cleary will participate in the county review and help prioritize Ohio Public Works projects in the Lawrence County.