Council approves low rent ordinance, 2010 budget

Published 9:43 am Friday, March 12, 2010

Businesses at the Ironton City Center will not have an increase in the cost of their rent.

The Ironton City Council unanimously approved an ordinance reestablishing rent in the city center at the reduced price.

In its regular meeting Thursday night the council renewed the ordinance, which was established last year and cut the rent in half for businesses at the center.

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The council also adopted the 2010 operating budget.

Meant to encourage more businesses to rent spaces in the city center, the ordinance means that rent will stay between $110 and $250 not including utilities and varies according to the square footage of the space.

City council also approved a $29 million budget for the fiscal year 2010.

Last year’s budgeted funds totaled about $19 million with the actual funds spent totaling about $13.5 million.

The major difference between the two years was grant funding for the Ironton Iron Remediation project and the sewer-relining project that was subsidized by stimulus act funding, Kristen Martin, city finance director, said last week.

The city has asked each department to make cuts where it can to save money. The Ironton Police Department has cut two vacant positions.

Most all departments have lost their capital improvement funds as well.

The budget was passed without repealing the city’s tax reciprocity ordinance.

Currently, those who live in Ironton but work in a municipality that levies an income tax only have to pay half of Ironton’s 1 percent income tax.

The council considered repealing the reciprocity ordinance, which would have meant that all residents would have to pay the full 1 percent tax regardless of employment outside city limits.

An ordinance to repeal reciprocity was considered but tabled in January.

Martin said the city found other ways of balancing the budget without repealing the reciprocity ordinance.

“That’s not tabled, that’s a dead issue,” Martin said.

The city is saving about $30,000 this year on health insurance as compared with last year. The city changed from MedBen to Medical Mutual of Ohio.

Had MedBen’s contract been renewed, the company was asking for a 2.5 percent increase in premium from the city. Medical Mutual’s bid was 2.5 percent lower than MedBen’s rate last year.

The difference between the two companies bids was $70,000.

Martin said that both companies offered great service.

“(Medical Mutual) matched our coverage,” she said. “It’s the same exact network. It’s just like anything, it’s competitive.”

Martin said the $30,000 savings has to do with the competitive nature of medical care.

“Competition makes companies play their best hand,” she said. “It’s healthy and it’s our due diligence to get the best rates for our employees.”

It had been a few years since the city had last accepted bids for health insurance, Martin said, though the savings this year might encourage the city to accept them more often.

Accepting bids has downsides, too, as it takes considerable time and the number of claims affects what type of bids the city will receive.

Martin said the budget is a living document that can be changed at any point.

“It’s not etched in stone, but it’s a good starting point,” she said.

In other business, the Ironton City Council also:

Heard the first reading of an ordinance allowing the city to vacate a portion of Eden Alley.

Passed an ordinance allowing Blankenship to bid and award a contract for the purchase of a steel wheel roller for the year.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city’s participation in an Ohio Department of Transportation Cooperative Purchasing Program.