ICC focus on #036;10 fee, code enforcement

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

Even when it is not up for a vote, the $10 municipal fee dominates discussion amongst the Ironton City Council members.

Money issues were once again the focus as council continues to look for ways to address the city's dwindling carryover and half-million dollar deficit between revenue and expenses each year.

Various versions of the $10-per-month, per-household fee have already been voted down three times before but the surviving version that includes a confusing refund system was given a second reading and will not come up for vote until the next meeting.

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That did not discourage anyone from talking about the virtues and vices of it. Council Chairman Jim Tordiff urged council to repeal the recently approved reciprocity change, remove the latest proposal and pass an across-the-board $10 fee.

"I think it is very hard to budget," Tordiff said. "I spoke to another political subdivision about this fee. they said, 'it would be a nightmare. We hope it doesn't happen here.'"

Tordiff said he was "scared to death" that the city was heading back towards fiscal emergency where it was in 1980.

All the discussion sounded familiar to Mike Pearson, who has been a regular attendee in recent months.

"I am back on behalf of the majority of the citizens in this town," he said. "We are ready to give you money but you won't take it."

Councilman Richard Price is the sole sponsor of this $10 fee. The primary difference is that it allows for an annual refund for each residence in which the primary income earner pays more than $60 per year in income tax.

If adopted, the proposal will cost retirees and others with no monthly income the full $10 per month but if someone pays any amount up to a maximum of $60 per year in income taxes, then they will receive an equal amount refunded - if their water bills are up to date.

An often-debated subject emerged again: Code enforcement. Councilman Jesse Roberts asked why the codes are not enforced.

"It is ridiculous. We have a house on every block that needs something done," he said. "We need compliance and code enforcement.

Compliance has happened for three or four years."

City Building/Code Officer Karl Wentz agreed that he too is frustrated but pointed out that he does not have any staff to help, cannot follow up on the citations and that the city does not have the money to demolish dilapidated buildings.

"There is code enforcement, just not enough," he said.

Roberts asked how many compliance violations have been cited into court since he has been the code enforcement officer.

Wentz replied that there have not been any.

Council also approved a resolution asking the Ohio Department of Transportation to include Glenn Presnell and the Ironton Tanks as part of the aesthetics design on the retaining wall of the proposed Ironton-Russell Bridge.

"This is my attempt to honor Mr. Presnell since we were unable to get him into the Hall of Fame," Councilman Jesse Roberts said. "At least we could let people know that he was from here and what he stood for."

In other business, Council:

4Adopted legislation authorizing the mayor to apply for a $357,300 grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission to upgrade telemetry systems at five of the city's sewage lift stations.

4Authorized the mayor to award a $686,878 bid to Mountain Enterprises to perform the on-system street improvement project. Portions of Park Avenue, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets will be paved and have the curb improvements. The project will be paid for with Empowerment Zone and KYOVA funds.

4Voted down several line item budget changes.