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Council to debate two city fees

Thursday's meeting of the Ironton City Council could be called "The Tale of Two Fees."

Both plans attempt to resurrect the hotly debated municipal fee for those living in the city, though the two ordinances have some substantial differences.

The first plan is sponsored by Councilmen Jesse Roberts, Richard Price and chairman Jim Tordiff.

The plan would add $7 to the monthly municipal utility billing of every residential household, rental unit and non-residential water customer.

The ordinance would put the fee into effect beginning on the first billing date after it passes.

The money gathered from the fee would be placed into the general fund of the city.

Tordiff has supported a $15 fee in the past and is a sponsor of this ordinance. Tordiff said he is still worried that this new fee, less than half of what he proposed, is just too little.

"My only reservation is that it's not enough, sometimes the perception is that when you put something on people think it fixes it, then when you have to come back at a later point to fix it, the reaction is, 'Well I thought we did something to help you out, what are you doing?'" Tordiff said.

Also on the agenda is another municipal fee ordinance, this one with two major differences: It would charge $10 per month and it would be put to a vote Nov. 8 on the general election ballot.

Councilman Bill Nenni is one of the ordinance's sponsors and he said the consequences of passing no fee would be dire.

"I don't think anybody understands the ramifications of not passing some kind of a fee. I see the wholesale doing away with of departments if we don't have a new revenue stream of some kind," Nenni said.

Although he emphasizes the importance of the fee, Nenni said he is not willing to go against the people's will to get it approved.

"I feel like money is the last constraint that people have on their government," Nenni said. "If we can just go out there and levy municipal fees on the citizens as a way to cure all the evils that exist, I don't feel like it's the right way to do that."

Councilman Bob Isaac has had a firm stance against the municipal fee, but sponsored the $10 fee with Nenni, which he said he agreed to earlier to get the budget he supported approved.

"I'm not in favor of fees, but I've said all along that if the residents would support it, then it's fine with me," Isaac said. "I've been against an ordinance on the municipal fee from the start."

Councilman Chuck O'Leary said he had not yet seen the two proposed ordinances and therefore declined to comment.

Nenni said that if the past is any indication, the ordinance proposed by the other councilmen stands a good chance of passing at the meeting.

"Mr. O'Leary has historically voted in favor of every one of those municipal fees," Nenni said. "If he does, I would expect it to pass."

Nenni said he planned to withdraw his municipal fee from consideration should the $7 fee be approved.

A municipal fee was most recently proposed by O'Leary in March. Revenue from that fee would have gone to the police department and would cost households $11.75 per month for the rest of the year and $7.50 per month in 2006 and 2007.

That fee died quietly in April when the stormwater utility fee was forced on to the council's plate.

Also on the agenda is an increase of the city's sanitation fees sponsored by Councilman Brent Pyles.

According to the ordinance, a fee increase is necessary to maintain the fund and keep it from operating with a negative balance.

The ordinance would add $2 to all residential customer's garbage bills and anywhere from $5 to $34 per month for commercial customers.

Councilmembers are also set to discuss the restoration of the water drainage system located in the State Route 141 area of Ironton.

Council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday on the third floor of the Ironton City Center.