City to meet on sewer issue

Published 10:36 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

Gets reports on union negotiations

There were updates on several issues in the city of Ironton including a union negotiations, a pump station project, and flooding.

Rick McKnight, a citizen on North Second Street, asked council if there was any update on their situation of the flooding of residents’ basements on the north end of Ironton when there are heavy rains.

Councilman Bob Cleary said that a measure to bring an outside engineering firm to study the problem was on the agenda for a first reading.

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Cleary said that Councilman Rich Blankenship was setting up a public utility committee meeting with E.L. Robinson, the mayor and residents to take one more look at what is going on.

“If it can be resolved because we see something that wasn’t there before, then this ordinance would die for no action, if the residents are satisfied with what they’re told we are going to do and actions being taken,” he said. “My intention is to let this run for the three readings like ordinances are supposed to.”

The public utility committee meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 in the council chambers.

Councilman Rich Blankenship, head of that committee, said the meeting would cover four things; what is causing the issues in that area, what does the city need to do about it, what does the City Council need to do such as increasing the water rates to fix the problem and if there is any action the residents can take.

“I’m not going to allow the meeting to be a free for all, it is not going to last two and half hours,” Blankenship said. “That should tell us what our next step is. Anything more than that, I’m going to go home and cut grass. We have discussed this, we all know the issue.”

McKnight said it’s been going on for three years and he does appreciate the calls from council members asking if there is flooding.

“But put yourselves in our shoes. It’s been three years and now we are finally having a meeting to find out what it is. And how long is it going to take to fix it when we do find out what it is,” he asked.

Blankenship said he would be the first to sponsor an ordinance to do what has to be done.

Michael Williams, an engineer with EL Robinson, updated the Council on the Moulton Field pump station no. 6 project, which has to be completed by Thrusday.

“They are finishing the final back fill on that,” he said. Adding they should be finished with that on Friday and the clean up should be done next week. “We should be good to go.”

Williams said there was a sinkhole because joints on a pipe had rusted out.

“Most of the pipe was tar coated and in good shape, actually,” he said. “But it was leaking sand and soil whenever water would come in around the joint. But this should take care of it.”

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith said that they have reached a tentative agreement with the AFSCME employees’ union.

“I do want to thank them,” she said. “After long negotiations, they have agreed to just do a small adjustment with the sick leave, going from $85 to $100. They will forgo any wage increase or any clothing or protection clothing. They do understand the difficulties in the city and the way the budget is this year and were willing to with me.

We’ll see what the budget looks like next year.

She said they would sign a one-year contract and re-open the negations in April or March.

Harvey spoke to the members of AFSCME who were in attendance.

“On behalf of all of us, I want to say we recognize your hard work,” he said. “Thank you.”

“Absolutely,” Keith said. “AFSCME puts a lot into the city and I greatly appreciate what they do, day in and day out.”

Keith said, per request of council, she had come up with numbers for hiring someone in flood control and a possible two jobs in sanitation. She gave them the figures and said she would like to discuss the proposal in the next finance committee meeting.

“My recommendation is to immediately put someone in the flood position, the finance department said the funds are there, and we would like to get that position filled,” she said. “We would like to discuss in finance committee about the two possible sanitation positions.”

Keith announced she had appointed Mark Dickess, the city’s benefit specialist, to the tax appeal board.

She also commended Dickess for saving the city a lot of money. The city got a rebate of $1,264 for being part of mandated programs and then got a second rebate of $89,000, which got a round of applause from the Council and audience members.

“That will definitely help our budget,” Keith said.

She said that the Ohio EPA was in about the city’s mercury problem and they asked her city employees to get photographs of the dust coming of coal trains when they come through Ironton, since that might be a source of mercury in water readings.

The hope is that with the photographs the city might be able to get some type of variance in the EPA-mandated levels.

In items on the agenda, Ordinance 17-32 got first reading. If passed, the city would hire an independent engineering firm to evaluate and determine the cause of the repeated flooding. The cost would be no more than $15,000 and would be paid from the city’s Storm Water Utility Fund.

The council had second and third readings on the purchase of six new dumpsters. Council passed the ordinance.

The council also had first and second reading on an ordinance about renewing a contract between the Ironton Police Department and Ohio University Southern for security. It was passed.