Council hears call for charter review

STEUBENVILLE – Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul called for City Council to meet next week to start discussions on a formal review of the nearly 29-year-old charter form of government and council members heard their senior member question City Manager Cathy Davison on her plans to balance the 2013 budget.

“Things have changed in our city since the charter was first approved in 1984. I would like to see the mayor appoint the nine-member committee needed to start a review of the charter. I think we should look at several issuers including if we need a city manager and do we need seven council members,” said Paul during the Tuesday night sunshine meeting.

“We now have 18,000 people living in the city, which is a change from 1984. Things are completely different now. And we need to look at the checks and balances in Steubenville,” Paul added.

Council agreed to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday prior to the regular meeting.

“I appreciate the call for a charter review. It may be good and it may not be good. But it is a very long process. If the council proceeds it will require a nine-member committee of people appointed by myself. If council decides to look at the charter, I will be happy to assist. The first step would be to review the city charter,” noted Mayor Domenick Mucci.

Council also is scheduled to hold a finance committee meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to continue a review of the city’s 2013 budget.

Sixth Ward Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman David Lalich said the Monday finance committee meeting will be open.

Council discussed the budget for 30 minutes in open session before moving into an executive session for 45 minutes to discuss upcoming contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 Ohio Labor Council in April and the International Association of FireFighters Local 228 in December.

Lalich questioned Davison on why she proposed four options for council members to consider in order to finish 2013 in the black.

“Nothing has been said about closing the Pleasant Heights fire station. And what about plans to change our hospitalization? We were given four options to consider. I thought a leader is supposed to bring us one option. If people complain about the option we choose, the city manager will say the council picked the option. We need one financial option brought to us. I never saw anything like this in my life. I think one option should be brought to us with the city manager’s recommendation,” said Lalich.

“I have been doing that for several months now,” responded Davison.

“The fire station and the hospitalization were not brought up in the options tonight. We need only one option to vote on. As the leader we should have one option to consider,” continued Lalich.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf asked Davison if raising the employee hospitalization share from $50 to $100 a month would balance the budget in 2013. “I would prefer that to a street light assessment plan and reinstalling the traffic cameras,” said Metcalf.

First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto said he was not fond of the street light assessment plan.

“We can’t collect outstanding water bills now and we are considering to add another bill to residents,” remarked DiLoreto.

DiLoreto also called on Metcalf to schedule a service committee meeting with Mingo Junction Councilman Michael Herrick to discuss the possibility of shared services between the city and the village.

During the brief sunshine meeting, Paul also asked Davison for a list of all city employees receiving mileage for their personal vehicles.

Councilman at-large Kenny Davis introduced a resolution recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and Metcalf proposed two ordinances authorizing the city manager to advertise for bids for the city’s 2013 hot mix resurfacing program as well as the 2013 seal program.

According to City Engineer Michael Dolak, the resurfacing program will include several streets in the West End, including Cunningham Lane from Sunset Boulevard to Scenic Drive.

“We are also recommending Scenic Drive from Cunningham Lane to the north terminus, Westwood Drive from Cunningham Lane to Scenic Drive, Fellows Drive from Westwood Drive to the north terminus and Harvard Avenue from Lovers Lane to the east terminus,” Dolak told council members.

Dolak said the alternate street for the 2013 resurfacing program is St. Andrew’s Drive from the south terminus to Scioto Drive South.

“The 2013 Community Development Block Grant funded resurfacing program includes finishing the remainder of Oak Grove Avenue from Pittsburgh Street to the west terminus, Darlington Road from Oakland Way to the north terminus, Edgewood Place from Oakland Way to Maple Way, Oakland Way from Darlington Road to Edgewood Place, Superior Street from Edgewood Place to North Seventh Street and Maple Way from Darlington Road to Edgewood Place. We are also looking at resurfacing Highland Avenue from North Street to its north terminus and Dock Street from Highland Avenue to North Seventh Street,” explained Dolak.

“If funds are available the alternate streets to be considered are Logan Street from North Seventh Street to the railroad tracks and Ross Street from North Seventh Street to the railroad tracks,” said Dolak.

Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi has said the deadline for completing the CDBG funded street improvement project is July 15.

Dolak also detailed plans for improvements to John Scott Highway and Mall Drive as well Brady Avenue and University Boulevard.

“All of these jobs are controlled by the two local asphalt companies. So I would like to get the bids advertised and awarded in order to start the process. The John Scott Highway and Mall Drive and University Boulevard and Brady Avenue projects won’t start until after July,” said Dolak.

“The other issue to be thinking about is a grind and crack seal project. We plan to use our street department for the work. And Lovers Lane and Mall Drive are in real need of the work. Lovers Lane will take at least three weeks. We also need to crack and seal Sunset Boulevard from Belleview Boulevard to Welday Avenue. Street Superintendent Bob Baird will be preparing a list of additional city streets in need of maintenance,” Dolak said.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins urged Dolak to talk to Columbia Gas officials regarding the utility company’s plans for installing new gas lines.

“We pave a street and Columbia Gas will tear up the street in a couple of years. We need better coordination,” stated Perkins.