Port authority seeking meeting with CIC

WINTERSVILLE – Jefferson County Port Authority Chairman Jay Zatta will ask the Community Improvement Corp. to allow two Progress Alliance employees to start working for the authority as part of a smooth transition process.

“I would like to reach out to the CIC and Progress Alliance to allow their two employees to move to the port authority. That would ease the financial impact of their salaries. We will also ask the CIC to give the Partners in Progress the option of moving support money to the port authority,” said Zatta.

“This is meant to be a goodwill gesture moving forward and to relieve the CIC of a financial responsibility. We also need to leave hard feelings behind us. Enough has been said about our transition. We need to move forward,” noted Zatta.

Zatta said the CIC is set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss its future.

“We have several options to consider as we move forward, including appointing an interim director or working through our staff for the time being. If we want to hire an executive director, we will need to start fundraising efforts,” Zatta said.

Zatta also indicated he will ask the Jefferson County commissioners at their Thursday meeting to pay the county’s first quarterly donation, “as soon as possible.”

Commissioner David Maple said the commissioners have approved a temporary 2013 budget and expect to approve a permanent budget soon that will include a $100,000 contribution to the port authority.

“We paid the CIC on a quarterly basis, and I anticipate we will continue that practice,” according to Maple.

The port authority will meet in special session at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss future plans.

Port authority members approved a month-to-month lease agreement with the Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority for the use of two offices at the airport terminal for $1,200 a year to house the port authority operations during the nearly two hour meeting Tuesday.

“This move will save the port authority $25,000 a year,” said authority member Geary Bates.

Maple said the lease will be a short-term agreement.

“The airport and port authority are a good match,” noted authority member Gary Cain.

In other business, Mark Teramana reported the public-private relations committee met with Wintersville officials and plans to meet with Toronto officials in the near future.

“We will also be meeting with other villages and community leaders to explain that the port authority represents all of Jefferson County,” Teramana said.

Authority Treasurer Ed Florak said the finance committee has drafted a preliminary budget to reflect the $105,000 in donations promised to the port authority in 2013.

Zatta said the authority is seeking a 501(c) 6 status that is more appropriate for government agencies seeking tax-free donations.

“We still have some work to do. We want to make sure we do this the right way,” said Zatta.

The port authority re-elected Zatta as chairman, Teramana as vice chairman, Florak as treasurer and Debbie Venci as secretary.

The authority also approved its mission statement that outlines the goals of the economic development organization.

“To establish and maintain the economic engine for Jefferson County that is an accountable, comprehensive, responsive and inclusive process which results in the most effective allocation of river, road, rail, air and natural resources inherent in Jefferson County to facilitate innovation to implement economic development initiatives that will strengthen and diversify the economy, enhance the quality of life including education, cultural activities, recreation and employment opportunities for all county residents.”