Residents need to be involved, mayor says

STEUBENVILLE – Mayor Domenick Mucci said the city turned around a projected $2.4 million shortfall in the city’s 2013 budget but warned the city continues to face challenges in 2014, during his annual state of the city address Tuesday night at Eastern Gateway Community College.

“As we entered 2013, there were many concerns facing city leaders. The continuing challenges of cuts in local government funding; the never-ending demand of balancing our budget while providing our residents with affordable services; the continuing task of encouraging our citizens to assist us and participate in its safety; and to be engaged in the update and development of our new city comprehensive plan,” Mucci told City Council members, city administration officials and 30 city residents during his 45-minute talk.

“He gave us the facts and it was a good speech. The mayor does a good job with his reports,” noted city resident Joseph Smarrella.

“Things are happening in our city, positive things. I hope it continues,” remarked city businessman Tony Corella.

“Since the last state of the city address we have made great strides in our continuing efforts to be transparent and open. Through this transparency, we provided information and responded to questions, requests and community needs in a timely manner,” Mucci continued.

“We didn’t back down from our challenges. We met the challenges head on and managed our situation with the patience and input of our citizens, the commitment and dedication of council. With the understanding and hard work of our department heads and employees, we were able to address our issues. We ended the year with a carryover, successfully negotiated and ratified two contracts, hired a new city manager and then, after months of hard work and outstanding input from our citizens, City Council adopted our comprehensive plan. I must admit that we still have a ways to go and we must continue to monitor our finances, but I truly believe we are heading in the right direction,” Mucci said.

“As always, my ability to perform the duties would not have been possible without the valuable assistance of Shirley DiCarlantonio. She again demonstrated her total dedication to the city,” Mucci said.

“The utility office saw a number of personnel changes in 2013. Along with this, job duties also changed, but the tasks continued to be accomplished. There were 88,768 regular monthly bills generated, along with 1,285 final bills. A total of $14,004,129.92 was collected, not including turn-on processing and deposit fees. In addition, there were 3,638 work orders processed and 1,139 new accounts were successfully established,” Mucci cited.

“Police Chief William McCafferty and the members of the Steubenville Police Department will always strive to maintain excellence in its service to our citizens and the business community. Their professionalism is ensured through continued leadership, training and education. The department is staffed by the chief, four captains, six sergeants, 27 patrol officers, four communications officers, one animal control officer and a secretary. Officers made 1,923 arrests in 2013 with a total of 2,448 criminal charges. The department is grateful for the ‘crime cameras’ that were installed in strategic areas of the city, but we still encourage citizens’ participation in solving crime and making our town safe,” said Mucci.

“The code enforcement division received 91weed complaints and 73 litter complaints. Additionally, the division logged over 120 calls in the Spillman System. The division was able to conduct two litter collection drives, one in the spring and one in the fall, that resulted in the collection of more than 1,760 tires. Most of the complaints were handled and, if not, appropriate action or citations were issued. This office along with the cooperation of Community Action Council, LaBelle Neighbors that Care, the Hilltop Community Development Corp., the Jefferson County Landlords Association, Metropolitan Housing and Municipal Court Judge Dan Spahn’s Community Service Program have saved the city valuable time and resources,” announced Mucci.

“In 2013, our health commissioner, Patty Reda, the staff and board continued to build on a community health assessment plan. The objectives for this centered around identifying health care needs, gaps in services, determining satisfaction levels for services received and appraising barriers to access health services. The action plan focuses on preserving core services while collaborating with community partners to meet other public needs,” continued the mayor.

Mucci also cited the work of the Urban Projects office and efforts to implement the new comprehensive plan.

“Tonight, I call on our citizens to assist the city in implementing this plan by attending a meeting on May 7 at 9 a.m. at the visitors center located on Third Street across from our city building,” noted Mucci.

“We also continue our efforts of collaboration in order to provide essential services to the public. The city continues to support the public-private partnership of the Jefferson County Port Authority for this opportunity. We also continue our strong relationship with the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Planning Commission. BHJ commission provides a strong regional networking opportunity and a source for funding many of our road projects. And, we continue to be attentive to our relationship with groups like the Steubenville Revitalization Group, Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Fort Steuben Project, along with other government agencies on a federal, state and local level,” stated Mucci.

Mucci also listed several investments in the community including:

The Franciscan University of Steubenville development plans on the green strip along with other major investments on campus.

Announcement of a $5 million investment from the Diocese of Steubenville in the South End.

Strauss Industries, based in Wheeling, purchased the former RG Steel property in Steubenville. Strauss has started a cleanup of the River Rail site that will provide economic opportunity for our citizens. This activity has drawn a strong interest in the redevelopment of the riverfront.

A new welcome sign at the intersection of state Route 7 and Washington Street, headed by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

The Texas Roadhouse, Microtel Hotel, Prime Time senior citizen centers on Lovers Lane, Ohio Valley senior center on Hollywood Boulevard, Cambridge Home Health, Steubenville Dialysis -DaVita, Ohio Valley Vision and the relocation of the United Way office and Fabian Formals.

“Yes, we have our challenges, but you must remember you have a dedicated group of city employees, elected officials and appointed officials working diligently to provide services. We continue to work hard to keep our town moving forward and build a better future for our residents.

“I’m grateful we have a plan for the future of the city. We have accomplished a lot and we have a plan for the future. That is a good feeling,” said city resident Tammy Sweeney after the address.