Council to mull police, fire vehicles

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

Ironton City Council may discuss bolstering its police and fire vehicle fleet Thursday but the group won’t likely take any action before doing more research.

Council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday for a regular meeting, which includes first readings of the vehicle proposals, a plan that would give union employees a $.50 cent per hour raise, another that would allow city to purchase the former Ironton Iron property and a plan to move forward with constructing a new 1-million gallon water tank.

Every ordinance requires three readings to be passed. The majority of the council tackled some of those issues Tuesday in a finance committee meeting.

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Much of the discussion centered on purchasing at least two new police cars, but the committee opted not to make a recommendation since everyone could not agree on exactly how many to buy, the brand to purchase and whether or not to finance the cars.

The councilmen went back and forth on addressing this need but still watching the tight budget. The city passed an $8 per month municipal fee earlier this year that will generate an extra $400,000 per year. However, council will soon decide on a plan that would give all employees a $.50 cent per hour raise that will cost the city an extra $150,000.

Councilman Leo Johnson said he is in favor of buying new vehicles — each with a price tag between $16,000 and $22,000 — but that he would like to see a clear plan on how the rest of the fee revenue is going to be used.

“We come in here with no plans for the fee,” Johnson said. “We are saying, “OK, (the taxpayers) are going to get what you are getting now.”

Council chairman Chuck O’Leary emphasized that hiring an additional police officer, something which has been done, and giving the employees overdue raises was the plan. The rest of the money is just to give the city a small cushion and keep the services it has, O’Leary said.

“I would love 12 new police cars. But we didn’t put $1 extra in the police department. This is just to keep the status quo and keep that money from coming out of the general fund revenue.”

The Ironton Fire Department’s vehicles were also the center of attention. The city is looking to replace the 1980 model truck it uses. This issue was also tabled until further information could be gathered.

The big question was whether or not the fire fee, passed several years ago, had enough funds in it to pay for the purchase of the new truck that may cost as much as $260,000.

The committee also favorably recommended legislation that would use $53,000 in state grant funds to demolish between 7 and 12 dilapidated structures within the city and install new playground equipment at Beechwood Park.

Council will give first reading to an ordinance authorizing the city to purchase land owned by Ironton Iron Inc., at 2520 S. Third St.

The purchase, with a cost of only $100, is contingent upon an environmental assessment on the property and obtaining funds from the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund.

The property will be restricted to either commercial or industrial use.

The city is also considering an ordinance to clear the property on Nixon Hill to prepare it for the construction of a new water storage tank.

The ordinance would authorize Charleston, W.Va.-based E.L. Robinson — which has an Ironton office — to provide estimates for the construction project.

Council will consider authorizing the mayor to enter into a collective bargaining agreement between the city of Ironton and its employee union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Local 771 to discuss wages.

The agreement would include the contract year beginning on Feb. 1, 2006 and ending Jan. 31, 2007. It would give all AFSCME employees a $.50 per hour increase in pay.