City council gives second reading on municipal fee

Published 10:20 am Friday, February 10, 2012

Ironton City Council Thursday evening gave second reading to an amended ordinance re-establishing the municipal fee at its current $8 instead of raising it to $10 and gave second reading to an ordinance that would repeal the city’s payroll tax reciprocity agreement, but not before hearing from three residents on one or both of these issues.

Craig Harvey, who addressed the council’s finance committee last week, returned Thursday to urge council not to repeal reciprocity. He submitted a petition with the signatures of 156 people, some of whom would be affected by the change and some of whom who would not.

“I encourage you to look at the names and see people you know,” Harvey said. He called the proposed repeal a “temporary fix” to the city’s budget problems and warned again people have told him they will move if the city repeals the 50 percent reciprocity agreement. He lamented that 15 percent of city residents pay 100 percent of the burden of the payroll tax.

Email newsletter signup

“We don’t have an income tax. We have an earnings tax,” council chairman Mike Lutz agreed.

“Everyone should share in this burden. We need to keep the city alive. We need to keep the city vital,” Harvey said.

Fellow council member Aaron Bollinger said, while he is in favor of cutting the budget, making cuts alone is not going to solve the city’s problem.

Council member Philip Heald told Harvey that while he appreciated Harvey’s passion on the issue, the realities of the city’s finances “often forces us into doing things we don’t want to do.”

Former mayor and council member Jim Tordiff, who also opposes the reciprocity repeal, argued that the city should first look at making employees pay more for their health insurance.

“Would most of you agree 20 percent is the norm with health care?” Tordiff asked.

Lutz told him the finance committee last week had indeed recommended non-union employees begin paying 10 percent of their health insurance premium. Lutz said he had trouble with the idea of making city workers take a giant leap and begin paying 20 percent of their health insurance and 10 percent of their retirement pickup all at once, especially when some employees only make $20,000 a year.

Tordiff responded that people in the private sector often pay that and often have less of a retirement plan than public sector workers do.

Ronald Thomas, of 414 Karin St., objected to what he called “the palaces” the city owns, such as the city center and the fire department, which are nicer buildings that some people’s houses, he said.

He also said if the city scraps its free dump program he feared there would be “the stockpiling of debris” in yards and alleys. He also lamented the size of his water bill and the fire fee. Thomas also said the city could save money by not putting fluoride, which he called a “toxic waste product” in the city’s water supply.

In spite of Thomas’ fears of debris stockpiling, council did adopt the resolution that restricts the city’s free dump program to twice a year.

Council gave first reading to an ordinance approving the purchase of various chemicals needed at its public works offices.

Council suspended the rules and passed an ordinance that sets the rent for city center lobby retail space but Mayor Rich Blankenship noted a new clause that requires businesses who rent these spaces to be open at least six hours a day, five days a week.

Council also suspended the rules and adopted an ordinance that raises the service worker license to $100.

Second reading was given to the municipal fee ordinance, but only after amending it from the proposed $10 back the current amount of $8.

Council adopted an ordinance allowing for the purchase of concrete and other construction materials.

An ordinance to fix the salaries of non-union employees was tabled pending further study. Lutz called a finance committee meeting for 5 p.m. Monday.