Council approves pay reduction

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

The ordinance that generated the most discussion at the Ironton City Council meeting on Thursday night was one that passed 5-2 to cut future council members salaries by 20 percent.

Currently, the vice mayor, who is the head of the City Council gets $250 a month and council members get $150 a month. The ordinance that passed reduces the vice mayor’s salary to $200 a month and the members salary to $120. The measure would save the city $4,920 annually.

The ordinance contains a grandfather clause so it does not apply to current council members.

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Chuck O’Leary, who sponsored the ordinance, said he knew the position was worth a lot more than they were getting paid but that it was a gesture.

“The mayor gave up $1,200 in gas allowance and tried to give back his raise,” O’Leary said. Mayor Rich Blankenship couldn’t do that because of a city ordinance and state law.

“Regardless, this won’t affect me now, but I am going to write a check for that amount every month to the city anyway.”

“You’re preaching to the choir, brother,” Butch Huff said.

Frank Murphy said that with the hours council members put in attending meetings, reading the material related to ordinances and talking to members of the public, their pay comes out to about six cents an hour.

“So if it drops to four cents an hour, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

Leo Johnson said he considered being a councilman a volunteer job anyway.

“I don’t asked to get paid when I coach my son’s ball team, I don’t ask for money for what I do at church,” he said, adding that he wanted to be a councilman to improve Ironton.

Kevin Waldo said he didn’t think cutting the salary was a good idea because there were so many hours to the job and that you need to entice people to the job.

“Of course when I was elected, I wasn’t sure if this was a paid position or not, so maybe I am defeating my own argument,” he said.

He said if the measure passed, it would only account for 1/300th of 1 percent of the city budget.

“What would that do for the city?” he asked.

Johnson replied it was enough to outfit a police cruiser without having to pull money from somewhere else.

O’Leary rescinded the motion to pass the ordinance because the gesture was made, Murphy made a motion for the ordinance to be adopted.

Along with Waldo, Bob Cleary voted against the ordinance.

In another matter, councilmen repealed the ordinance making landlords responsible if their tenants skip out on their water bill.

O’Leary recommended that when a new ordinance is put together that the security deposit be $200 and a $50 connection feed.

Mike Lutz said he wanted a new ordinance put in place as fast as possible.

Mayor Blankenship said that Mike White, the head of the city water department, was working on getting all the information together and setting up procedures for a new ordinance and he expected it soon.

Also passed was an ordinance setting the fee for copies of accident reports from the Ironton Police Department at $5.

An ordinance on waste disposal contracts was sent to committee for further review.

Also passed was a weed and litter ordinance that also deals with outside storage including inoperative, abandoned or improperly licensed or registered vehicles which will have to be out of public view. An exemption would include the storage of toys, firewood, bicycles and cookout equipment.

Under the new ordinance, the owner or tenant will be notified to clean up their property and if they don’t they could be found guilty of a misdemeanor with a fine of no more than $500 or the city can tow the vehicle or pay someone to clean up the property and the cost will be charged to the tenant or property owner.

The council passed a resolution to support the preservation of the Delta Queen, a steamboat. The resolution urges local congressmen, U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson and U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich, to support the saving the boat.

Wilson’s field representative Phil Roberts said the congressman has received a lot of mail on the subject and that he is the co-sponser of a bill to help preserve the steamboat.

The council also passed a resolution support a 12-screen cinema to be built in the Ironton Hills Plaza by Tim Shively and Associates.

Shively spoke to the council and said that he has the business plan in place but is having trouble getting in contact with the property owner.

Shively said that the cinema would be a first-run movie theater unlike the MidTown Theater he ran in Ashland, Ky. which showed second-run films.

Shively said that he could complete the project for about $1 million. The council members said that the old Ro-Na theater across the street from the city center was owned by the city and that it would be nice to have a theater there again.