Steubenville Council to discuss police audit

STEUBENVILLE – City Council will meet in executive session next Tuesday to discuss a consultant’s 2012 review of the city police department.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul called for the hour-long meeting, “because we didn’t get all our questions answered at the last meeting.”

Retired law enforcement official Jim Mavromatis conducted the review of the police department and interviewed every member of the department.

“We discussed one issue in that report but we never addressed the other seven issues. I get frustrated because we don’t finish all of our projects. I have several questions about the report and would like to continue our review of the police department audit,” Paul said after the meeting.

Mavromatis has declined to discuss the contents of the report calling it, “an internal document.”

Council will meet at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich also scheduled a 7:15 p.m. finance committee meeting Tuesday to discuss the press used at the wastewater plant for sludge.

“I think we should look at purchasing the press instead of continuing to lease it. I think it would be financially better for us to purchase the press,” said Lalich.

Council met for 25 minutes in executive session following Tuesday night’s regular council meeting to discuss the current contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council.

“I updated the council on those contract talks and a health care containment meeting we had with the city unions earlier today. It’s no secret a major portion of the city general fund is reflected in employee salaries and health care benefits. I can tell you we are moving forward with our negotiations with the police,” said Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci.

The city administration is set to start negotiations with the International Association of Fire Firefighters Local 228 later this year and with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015 next spring.

In other business Tuesday, 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins announced council is accepting applications for the city council clerk position until Aug. 2.

“We will meet in executive session on Aug. 6 to review the resumes. I am also asking Law Director S. Gary Repella to assist us in compiling the qualifications for the job,” said Perkins.

Council approved several pieces of legislation including;

– A contract with a new collection agency in an attempt to retrieve delinquent water bill accounts. The ordinance, proposed last week by Lalich, will see the city use RBC Inc. of Mansfield to go after the delinquent water accounts.

According to Repella, “it is in the best interests of the delinquent customers to make arrangements to pay their account before their bills are turned over to the collection agency. Once the collection agency starts the collection process they will be tacking an additional percentage fee on top of the delinquent bill the customers will be required to pay. The city will receive the full amount of the delinquent bill and RBC will be paid through the additional fees.”

– A resolution of commendation to Councilman at large Kenny Davis and his wife Penny for spearheading the Save the Belleview Pool campaign.

“We wanted the pool open for the youth of the community. We are about family and giving and hopefully we can spread that throughout the community,” said Davis.

– Adoption of the one-year action plan for the 2013 Community Development Block Grant funds.

The city received $595,549 for the 2013 fiscal year and the money will be used for several projects, including street improvements, clearance and demolition projects, code enforcement and fair housing activities.

Council heard the second reading of an ordinance to approve expenditures without a purchase order over $3,000, and the first reading of an ordinance accepting the city’s new comprehensive plan.

The city’s planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed comprehensive plan at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9.

Health Commissioner Patty Reda announced the cost of birth and death certificates will increase from $23 to $25 on Aug. 1.

“The city will still retain $11.50 for each certificate and the remainder will go to the state,” said Reda.

Perkins recognized police department dispatcher Annie Delfiandra “for her efforts to calm an 8- or 9-year-old boy who had just seen his mother arrested for shoplifting.”

“The little boy showed up at the city building last week looking for a ride home. We took him into the police dispatcher area until we could locate a relative. And Annie spent at least 45 minutes talking to the little boy and calming him down. Annie is what Steubenville is about. We take care of each other,” said Perkins.

Tammy Sweeney of the Buena Vista subdivision continued asking for answers to a proposed water line improvement project originally announced in 2011.

Mucci said after an investigation he learned “there was an application from the city for funding through the Governor’s Office on Appalachia for Buena Vista, Trinity Medical Center West, Aberdeen Road, St. Charles Drive, Bryden Road and East Carlton.”

“That would be a $1.2 million project and the GOA promised us $150,000 for the project. But we never actually received the funding. I have asked the director of the GOA how we can get that funding and I am waiting for a response. But we will get that money sooner or later,” Mucci told Sweeney.

William C. Watson commended the First Baptist Church on Pleasant Heights for adopting and maintaining Murphy Field.

“They are doing a great job keeping the grass cut and are now painting the structures there. The members of the First Baptist Church should be recognized for what they are doing,” noted Watson.

And Regina Blanchard issued an appeal for male volunteers to assist her working with “with street kids we are encouraging to practice basketball.”