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Annual operating budget adopted

When ordinance 14-10 adopting the annual 2014 operating budget for the City of Ironton was approved on Thursday, Ironton City Council President Kevin Waldo said he wished the room had “one of those applause signs.”

After numerous finance committee and special council meetings, a finance committee chair Aaron Bollinger made the motion to suspend the rules and give the ordinance its second and third readings. Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship lauded the finance committee and everyone involved for “coming together,” he said. “I’m glad that we got it done.”

Waldo agreed with Blankenship.

“I was just going to say that,” Waldo said. “Aaron, thanks for leading the finance committee and Bob (Cleary) and Craig (Harvey) you guys did a great job and brought a lot of people together and I think the city understood that we were very interested in trying to do the right thing by all the departments. There was good discourse between the department heads and the council and the finance committee. Excellent job, and it’s really nice to put that to bed. We got it done in time and we don’t have to have any special meetings and no bickering and arguing and things like that, which is wonderful for everybody. I’m glad it all came together. Mayor, thank you for your assistance in this as well. (Finance Director Kristen Martin) I know you spent countless hours on this and we appreciate all your help, too.”

Blankenship said he was notified Thursday of another step forward in the Riverfront Development Project, this time in the form of a Clean Vessel Act grant.

“I was notified (Thursday) by an official from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that a grant I applied for in October for a pump-out station has been awarded,” Blankenship said. “It’s for boaters so it kind of goes right along with the Big P grant we’ve already received.”

The $55,637 Clean Vessel Act grant allows transient boaters on the Ohio River whose boats have restrooms to stop in Ironton and clean them out.

The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Boating Infrastructure Grant Program (Big P) grant of $630,000 for marina construction has already been awarded.

“It’s just another advantage we have,” Blankenship said. “We got the Big P grant, this grant and we are waiting on a Cooperative Boating Grant to repair our ramps.”

The pump-out station will be located somewhere on the dock and the city’s recreation department would maintain the pumps.

Martin notified council about a pre-audit meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday in the mayor’s office.

“We had a pre pre-audit meeting to go over the questionnaire,” Martin said. “They read all of our articles. They know what’s going on with everything that pertains to the city so they just kind of come in, guns loaded and look forward to getting started.”

Martin told Waldo she did not expect any problems with the audit.

Waldo then mentioned Huntington, W.Va.’s bond rating recently being raised to an “A” and asked about Ironton’s bond rating.

“Most all of our bonds have not been rated because they involve insurance to get a lower interest rate or give credit to the county for its Neighborhood Investment Program, which is how we bought the sanitation truck and the police cars,” she said. “The county can offer that incentive to any village or municipality within the county. We have just entered into transactions that do not mandate us to have a rating, which, are hard to get these days. The city has not had a rating in the past and our current transactions don’t require or create one.”

Bollinger sponsored an amendment to Ordinance 08-24 that was adopted in April 2008 requiring litter be cleaned up no more than five days after receiving a letter from the health department.

“We had an incident where we had to use this last week,” Blankenship said. “But in our old books — that we are now getting updated thanks to council — our ordinance we had been using had some things wrong. In Section 2 on the second page it says seven days and right before that it says five. I need to amend that to say five instead of seven on both so we can actually use the more current ordinance. We were using the last one, which says 15 days and I remembered, just vaguely, that we had revisited this a long time ago and lowered the amount of days. And sure enough, we did.”

The amendment will be placed on agenda for the next council meeting.

Blankenship also informed council about the Ironton Police Department’s four new Ford Police Interceptor SUVs that will soon be utilized.

“You have probably seen or heard we do have four new police cruisers that will soon be on the road so we are glad about that,” Blankenship said. “I appreciate everybody’s efforts in being able to obtain these by saving (money) throughout the years.”

Cleary asked about the mileage and future use of police cars that will be taken out of service because of the new vehicles.

“Other law enforcement agencies have inquired,” Blankenship said. “In the past we have given other agencies first dibs on them.”

Cleary said he feels it’s important to “put that money back into the system and keep this thing going.”

Dawson-Bryant juniors Nate Crabtree, Brent Morgan, Wyatt Schultz and Caleb Moore attended the meeting on an assignment from their American government teacher Monica Mahlmeister for 100 bonus points.

Council member Craig Harvey provided some comic relief when he asked why none of the students had the last name McKnight. “I thought everybody in Coal Grove was named McKnight,” Harvey said.

Ordinance 14-08 authorizing a contract with the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority and declaring an emergency was referred to council for review during its last meeting. The ordinance is for police services associated with the authority’s security program and Bollinger made the motion to suspend the rules and adopt the ordinance, which was agreed upon unanimously by council.

Ordinance 14-09 adopting a temporary operating budget had its second reading but only as a technicality.