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Issues hold up new water regulations

After much debate and many meetings, the city still doesn’t have a new set of water regulations.

The Ironton City Council tabled the ordinance on the water regulations after one councilman wanted the price for the security deposit fee to go back up to $250 for rental homes and the city attorney questioned whether parts of it were in keeping with a federal court order.

Councilman Mike Lutz made a motion that the regulations make the security deposit for rental units go back up to $250, which was the working draft recommendation until a June 2 meeting of the Public Utilities Committee meeting with landlords who thought the deposit was too high. So it was dropped to $200 with a recommendation that the issue be reviewed in six months.

Attorney Mack Anderson raised the question of fairness because the fee for rental units was $250, but if a person owned the home they lived in, it was only $150. He said there is question as to whether the ordinance would violate the terms of a consent agreement following a federal court case the city lost.

“I bring this up because tenants are charged more than landlords,” Anderson said. “And the landlords get back their deposit after 12 months if they pay on time and tenants do not.”

Councilman Butch Huff recommended tabling the measure until those issues were sorted out. The motion to table was passed.

Another ordinance that was tabled but came back out was one with dealing with financing a new $1.5 million water tank on Nixon Hill.

Councilman Kevin Waldo wondered about the proposal from Citizens National Bank of Ashland, Ky., which was recommended to council. The annual payment of $115,046 is for 20 years with a 4.6 interest rate.

Waldo thought that sounded low and wanted to know if that was a fixed or variable rate. Mayor Rich Blankenship said he didn’t have the documents regarding the financing with him so the measure was tabled. As the motion to adjourn the meeting was made, the mayor got a text message from engineer Doug Cade of E.L. Robinson that the proposal had a fixed rate.

So the measure was untabled and passed 6-1 with Waldo voting no.

Two related ordinances passed, one is to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to review the tank project and the other is to award the bid to Preload, Inc. to build a new water tank on Nixon Hill.

The 100-year-old tank is part of Ironton’s original water system and has been in disrepair for years. The facility was abandoned, except for the well and the waterlines, years ago when the new system was built along the Ohio River.

The new project would consist of a 2 million gallon water storage tank and a 12-inch diameter water line to the U.S. 52/State Route 141 interchange to connect it to a main line.

Council also passed an ordinance for E.L. Robinson to begin the first phase of separating the combined sewers in the north end of Ironton and approved a collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police department for one year.

In resolutions, the city has entered an agreement to have the Ironton Port Authority pursue Clean Ohio Assistance funds for the Ironton Riverfront Revitalization project. The city will apply for Community Development Block Grants to get funds to remove blighted buildings from Ironton.

In communications, Blankenship recommended the re-appointment of Mike Hass, Bill Dickens and Bob Lipker to the Ironton Port Authority.

The mayor also called for a forum on June 23 in the lobby of the City Center at 6 p.m. to get input on what to do about Memorial Hall.