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No fees passed at Ironton City Council meeting

At Thursday’s Ironton City Council meeting, the council didn’t pass any of the proposed fees on the agenda during the four-hour meeting at the Ironton Fire Department.

It was a long meeting with a finance committee meeting beginning at 5 p.m. and the regular council meeting at 6 p.m. During the first two hours was an executive session and the audience participation with numerous citizens stating their displeasure with the several fees, totaling $17 a month, that were passed at a Dec. 15 morning meeting that was held at 9 a.m. A couple of speakers suggested alternatives to more taxes with suggestions of other fees that could raise revenue.

Mayor Katrina Keith updated the council on several matters in the city.

She said that she will schedule another public forum soon and invited council to attend if they wanted.

“I am all aboard for that,” she said, adding that she was taken aback by recent comments about the lack of a public forum since she has been holding them for the past three years and had three in 2018. “I heard people chuckle about being on Facebook, but that is a huge avenue to get the message out there. I go live every Friday and talk about this stuff.”

Keith said she would get dates for the Bowman Auditorium at Ohio University Southern. Council asked for a Tuesday since that day seemed to bean easier day for everyone to  attend.

Keith said the Ohio River finally went out of flood stage on Thursday and that State Route 650, which connects Ironton and Hanging Rock, was open again.

She did say that pump station #10 was down and that the flood department was working on getting repaired before the rains came again.

“The Flood Department is doing a great job,” Keith said. “What they do is remarkable with what they have.”

She said the city has passed required mercury tests for the past several months as mandated by the EPA.

The ordinances on the agenda just had readings since the council requires at least six members to vote on suspending the rules and having second and third readings. There were only five members present.

The council heard first readings on Ordinance 18-85, which is amending the annual operating budget.

There was also a first reading on Ordinance 18-86, which repeals Ordinance 10-75 and amends Ordinance 08-53. The new ordinance would require a security deposit of $200 of all renters and have all city water bills be put in the renter’s name. It would require the same amount of homeowners. Once the account is closed out and if there is no delinquent payments due, the deposit will be returned. The ordinance also requires the mayor to provide a monthly report on delinquent water bills.

Ordinance 18-75, which is a contract between the city and the firefighters and Ordinance 18-77, which is a contract between the city and AFSCME, Local 771 union employees, got second readings. Keith said that there were no pay raises in those contracts and that everything was the same as the 2018 contract.

Ordinance 18-84, which establishes a hotel/motel three percent excise tax was tabled.

Ordinances to create a police safety fee, fire safety fee, a flood prevention fee, and increased water sanitation, storm water and wastewater fees got third readings but were not  voted on.

The council did pass a resolution for the pay rates for the city’s non-union employees. Keith said that the pay rate does go up but so does the amount employees have to pay for their health insurance.

The council will have a special meeting on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and will only discuss and possibly vote on amending the annual operating budget, the contract between the city and the firefighters and the contract between the city and AFSCME, Local 771 union employees.

The special meeting is necessary to pass the budget before Jan. 1. If they don’t, the state will have a finding against the city and it could be fined.

If there are not six council members in attendance so they can suspend the rules to pass the ordinances on Saturday, the council will meet at 12:30 p.m. on Monday.

The meetings will be held in the conference room on the second floor of the City Center. There will be no audience participation and no other ordinances or resolutions will be on the agenda.