City nixes #036;14.55 fee, opts to hike sewer rates

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Residents and businesses can officially say “so long” to the $14.55 municipal fee, which was overturned during Thursday night’s meeting of the Ironton City Council, a meeting that brought a new finance director to the city.

The fee will be replaced by a $2 increase per thousand gallons used in the sanitary sewer fee for businesses and residences.

The new plan was passed one meeting before it was slated to be voted on. Councilman Leo Johnson said that he wanted to hurry the proceedings to allow the city to begin work on its new plan as soon as possible.

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“I think that given the current status we have with the federal and state EPA that it’s imperative that we get this on the bill before the month of June,” Johnson said.

Councilman Richard Price opposed the ordinance, saying that it was an unfair measurement for deciding how much should be paid into the stormwater utility fee.

“To me this is totally circumventing the process the way it should be done, because we’re not basing it on how much stormwater is being generated,” Price said. “We’re basing it on how much water families in Ironton use, which in no way relates.”

Price was the only councilman who voted in opposition to the plan.

Later on, Councilman Ralph Huff moved that a new candidate, Michael Keeney, be appointed to the finance director position at the salary of $42,000. Ironton resident Keeney has previously worked for the West Virginia legislature and comes with auditing experience.

But Johnson, and some other councilmen said they worried that the job would be too much for Keeney, who is in his mid-20s, to handle.

“I thought that he was a young man who had a lot of promise, but he’s a young man, and I feel like we’re throwing him into a hornet’s nest,” Johnson said. “To throw him in the middle of this would be unfair to him. I can’t support him just for the boy’s sake.”

Councilman Bob Cleary said that all members of council had received a letter from Anderson saying that she would be willing to return to her spot as city finance director.

Anderson left her spot in March after being chastised by the council for missing a meeting.

Johnson said he wanted Anderson for the spot, a sentiment that was echoed by councilmen Cleary and Price, who said he wouldn’t be opposed to hiring on Kenney as an assistant finance director.

Henrietta Hankins, a finance department employee, spoke out to ask the council to consider returning Anderson to her spot. Hankins said that the department was now two months behind on its operations.

“We need somebody now, I know you all think that I’m pushing Cindy and in a way I am,” Hankins said. “She’s the only one who can come in at this point and get things straightened out.”

In the end, Keeney was placed into the position with Price, Johnson and Cleary voting in opposition and councilmen Chuck O’Leary, Rick Meeks, Rich Blankenship and Huff voting in favor.

The council also passed an ordinance that would establish an impound lot and towing services for the city.