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Ironton mayor will have forum

Will discuss city’s financial situation, fees at OUS

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith has announced there will be a public forum at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the Mains Rotunda of the Riffe Center on the campus of Ohio University Southern.

She said the forum would address the recent city fee increases and the city’s financial future.

She said the rotunda was chosen over Bowman Auditorium because “we can have an informal setting, where we can just sit and talk. People can bring forth their ideas or concerns so council and myself can get a better understanding.”

Keith said she would present information about the city’s financial situation “so I can show Ironton residents our concerns about Ironton’s revenues in the future.”

She will have handouts with that information for the public. While this is the first forum Keith has scheduled for this year, she had several in 2018.

“Really, we just want to have an open forum where we can discuss things,” Keith said. “We want to educate the community of the financial status of the city. And we have to show them the revenue options that are available to us, so that we can make an appropriate decision on the path we want to take.”

Keith said the city finds itself in the situation because Ironton has a low tax base and there isn’t enough money coming into the general fund to sustain city services like police and fire departments and public service.

Besides the low tax base, the city has seen a reduction in the local government funds that come from the state. The State of Ohio has been reducing those funds for over a decade.

“Ironton, maybe, receives $200,000 from the state, where it used to be around $500,000,” Keith said. “So we have taken a $300,000 loss from the state. The average citizen doesn’t realize that we are not receiving those funds, so we have to make it up or we have to cut services.”

She said that since the city fees go to support the general fund, she is interested in hearing from the citizens of since they are spending taxpayer dollars.

“I want to know if they are OK with eliminating fire services, because if we don’t have money coming in, we have to cut services somewhere,” Keith said.

She said that ideas like eliminating the police department and having the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department patrol Ironton is not a workable plan.

“We haven’t even had discussions with Sheriff Jeff Lawless about whether he’d be willing to take over our police services,” Keith said. “Even if they did, I don’t believe they have the budget to accommodate that. And I don’t believe he has enough officers to patrol all 63,000 residences in Lawrence County.”