Salary increase for county post draws questions

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County commissioners Thursday questioned the salary of the county’s Veterans Service Commission director.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the veterans service commission members had claimed they increased the salary for Schelley Brooks to make the salary comparable to what other directors are paid in similar-sized counties.

Gentile said the commissioners gathered salary information from other counties that he said showed the claim by the veterans services wasn’t accurate.

Brooks is paid $70,221. Gentile said the county has a population of 69,709 residents. He said the veterans services director in Columbiana County, with a population of 107,841, is paid $49,608. The veterans services director in Stark County, with a population of 375,586, is paid $55,000. Belmont County, with a population of 77,070, pays its director $54,390.

“We don’t appreciate being given false information,” Gentile said.

Brooks, who was at the meeting, said she had no comment on Gentile’s claim. She said veterans services board members will address the commissioners at next week’s meeting.

In other matters, commissioners agreed to the terms of Mingo Junction for selling the county bulk water.

Under the agreement, the village will charge $2 per 1,000 gallons of water for the first year, $2.10 in year two and $2.15 for years three through five.

The county expects to purchase about 16 million gallons of water from the village, which will amount to $168,800 over the five years.

The county has been buying bulk water from Steubenville but the city increased its rate to $2.46 per 1,000 gallons of water. The county water will service Sunshine Park and the Goulds area.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said a formal contract will have to be written, including the maximum amount of water purchased.

The commissioners also authorized the county water and sewer department to begin the engineering on connecting the Mingo Junction system to the county’s system. The cost is estimated to be around $10,000, and the work will be done by county crews.

Commissioners also authored McKinley & Associates of Wheeling to begin preparing engineering and bid specifications for work on the county-owned Towers building on Market Street. The work was broken into four projects, including the main roof replacement; heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement; doors and window insulation; and mezzanine roof replacement.

Commissioners also agreed to renting a portable chiller at a cost not to exceed $18,000 to be used this summer for air conditioning in the building.

Commissioners also:

Approved placing the $2,500 tap-in fee for a water line replacement in the Bradley area outside Smithfield on the water bills of future customers in the area at a 1 percent interest rate over 20 years. A resident also could pay the tap-in fee at once, without the interest cost.

Residents who want to tap into the water line after construction is completed will pay a $3,000 tap-in fee.

Existing customers on a 2-inch water line will not have to pay the tap-in fee under a decision by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said Michael Eroshevich, water and sewer department interim director.

Were informed 96 homes have not connected to the Crestview-Belvedere sewer system. The county water and sewer department reported 56 homes have a contract to be connected by a contractor. Bruce Misselwitz, county health department administrator, said the health department will file court action against the property owners who haven’t connected by the Tuesday deadline. The commissioners have granted three 90-day extensions for the connections.

Opened two bids for paving work on county Road 9, with an estimate of $158,300. Shelly & Sands of Rayland was the apparent low bidder with a bid of $144,630. County Engineer James Branagan said slightly more than 1 mile of the road will be repaved, with 50 percent of the cost paid with an Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

Agreed to advertise for a bridge repair job on county Road 53, with an estimated cost of $107,500. Branagan said the county will pay for 100 percent of the cost.

Were informed of the probate court reappointments of Judy Henthorn and Timothy Zifzal to the Friendship Park Board.

Were informed of the probate court appointment of Pamela Petrilla, Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery executive director, to the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Agreed to endorse the 0.5-mill renewal levy for the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School.