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ICC: Set to purchase mandated equipment for sewage plant

Ironton City Council suspended the rules Thursday, giving the three required readings and approving the purchase of new equipment for the wastewater treatment plant.

The grit collector system and the mechanical bar screen is a necessity. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires it and the existing one is broken.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the system will cost “a couple hundred thousand dollars.” Blankenship said he will advertise for bids, a process that takes six weeks. Once a bid is awarded the installation will begin. The entire process should take a couple of months.

Meanwhile, Blankenship said he has five candidates for the wastewater treatment plant operator. He has already interviewed four of the five hopefuls.

“One is standing out so far. They were here Sunday and Monday and toured the plant, met with employees. I am not at the point of making a recommendation yet,” Blankenship said.

“Are any Class 4 (wastewater license holders?” council member Bob Cleary asked. A class 4 operator’s license is required by the OEPA.

Blankenship replied that one has a Class 4 from another state but that license is not transferable to Ohio. If the candidate does not have the required Class 4 license, he or she will be given a specified amount of time to get one.

The mayor also told council the wastewater plant’s finances — it is operated as an enterprise fund with a fee on the water bill and is separate from the city general fund — is in good shape and he would like to bring back one of the public works employees who was laid off this spring.

Blankenship also said he is continuing talks with the two unions that have not reached new agreements with the city. Both the Fraternal Order of Police and American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

In May, the city laid off two police officers and six AFSCME union members in an effort to comply with a city-mandated 7 1/2 percent budget cut.

The firefighters union chose to make cuts in its department through cuts in the clothing and food allowances. Firefighters also agreed to begin paying a portion of their pension. Non-union employees now pay 7 1/2 percent of their pension.