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City council hears fire safety fee ordinance

An ordinance proposed by the Ironton City Council would change the fire consumption fee for businesses.

If passed, the ordinance would mean that all nonresidential customers in Ironton would pay a flat fee of $12.00 monthly. The fire fee supports the Ironton Fire Department.

Currently, the fire is administered according to how much water a business uses. Nonresidential customers pay $.90 per 1000 gallons they use.

The proposed ordinance also allows for $1.00 increases in the fee every five years beginning in 2015.

Some have argued that the current rate is not fair to businesses such as car washes and nursing homes, which likely use a great deal more water than other businesses.

Councilman Frank Murphy recommended that council suspend the rules and give the ordinance second and third readings Thursday. The motion to suspend the rules was voted down with a 3-3 vote. Councilmen Chuck O’Leary, Frank Murphy, and Kevin Waldo voted in favor of suspending the rules, while Councilperson Beth Rist and Councilmen Dave Frazer and Bob Cleary voted against the measure.

Councilman Mike Lutz was absent from the meeting.

Rist said she voted against suspending the rules and voting on the ordinance that night because she had recently missed a committee meeting and she did not have a clear understanding of the ordinance.

Frazer argued that it was not a good time to change the fee.

“I don’t like the timing of it when it comes right down to it,” he said after the meeting. He added that if council was to change the fee, it should be at the start of the year. He also was concerned that business owners would be angry if the ordinance is passed.

The ordinance should not change just because one person complained about it, he said, referencing a time when car wash owner Garry Castle’s approached council, asking for a change in the ordinance.

Murphy said he wanted to suspend the rules and pass the ordinance that night because right now it is unfair to businesses that use large amounts of water.

“I wanted to suspend the rules to make it fair across the board quicker,” he said.

Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon said he trusts the council to make the right decision and does not have an opinion about the ordinance.

He has been assured that the change will not affect the department’s budget.

“I surrender to their capabilities,” Runyon said.

In other business, the Ironton City Council also:

Passed an ordinance vacating the city from a portion of Jersey Alley, which is between Park Avenue and Vernon Street.

“It was a dead end alley and we didn’t have any use for it,” Mayor Rich Blankenship said. Owners of the property nearby had requested the vacation.

Heard the second reading of an ordinance that would designate the city as a recovery zone according to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Passed a resolution approving a plan update by the Lawrence-Scioto County District Solid Waste Management.

Passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the USEPA for the Cooksey Brothers Landfill Settlement.

Passed a resolution requesting the county auditor to certify the estimated property tax revenue for a replacement flood levy