Mucci resigns from JB Green Team post

BELLAIRE – Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci resigned his position on the JB Green Team board after announcing that Steubenville Council members voted unanimously last week to oppose a designation fee requested by the solid waste authority.

JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Meyer presented his findings from a “sense of the community” survey at Monday’s board meeting indicating all of the voting representatives were on board for the fee with the exception of Steubenville.

Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile, who lobbied in favor of a $2 designation fee to help financially aid the cash-strapped solid waste authority, had made a motion to move forward with the change to the current plan and force an official public vote on the proposal.

The Green Team must receive support from the county commissioners in Belmont and Jefferson counties, the cities of Steubenville and Martins Ferry and 60 percent of the political subdivisions in both counties.

Meyer said the change would cost $10,000. Steubenville, as the largest city in Jefferson County, along with Martins Ferry and the commissioners from Jefferson and Belmont counties will still have the power to veto the designation fee. After confirming Mucci’s announcement that his city would veto the fees, Gentile rescinded his motion.

“The designation fee will cost your residents 17 cents a month, or $2 a year. It will allow us to continue our current services and allow us to tap into the oil and gas industry waste,” said Gentile.”However, after hearing the changes would cost $10,000 and had no chance of passing, I have to vote against adding the fees to the current plan.”

The board was split 9-5 on the first tally to move forward with the fees on the current plan, but after Powhatan Point Mayor Mark McVey, board member Barb Godwin and Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller pointed out the futility of the decision, the board was unanimous on the rescinding vote to defer the fees onto the 2015 waste plan.

“I find it hard to believe that once it comes before the board of the individual townships that 60 percent would agree to it,” Mucci said as he argued against the designation fee. “It has been a very long decision and I think our feelings have been known for a long time.

“I am not comfortable being in the position to oppose a designation fee,” Mucci added. “It is our understanding that once it is implemented in the plan that it would forever remove the veto power of Steubenville City Council.”

The designation fee would mean communities taking municipal solid waste to landfills outside of Jefferson and Belmont counties would pay an extra fee.

“It is not an easy decision, but after hearing from our business representatives we feel we must take this course of action,” Mucci told the committee. “We are in the business of hauling waste in Steubenville and by our calculations, based on tonnage, the fee would cost $2.65 per household for our residents.”

“Our city council would be faced with asking our citizens to pay more for their sanitation services,” noted Mucci. “There is a lot to all of this. I am not quite sure, especially when you analyze and try to determine fees with an unknown factor.”

Meyer explained that with that option off the table there are two other options available.

“The board can decide to implement a tax assessment in July effective until 2015 or the board can take no action and wait for action from the Ohio EPA with the ratification of the new 2015 Solid Waste Plan,” Meyer said. “It is up to the board to decide what options they are choosing and direct me how to go forward.”

The board moved to have the finance and planning committees review a plan to implement a tax on the 64,000 improved parcels in the two counties.

“With the declining tonnage at the Apex Landfill, it is going to be tough to estimate the tax rate,” Meyer explained. “These have to be submitted to the county auditors by July.”

The decision will not effect the new plan for 2015, which includes line items for a designation fee and a tax. Mucci and Green Team legal adviser John Mascio disagreed on the ratification process for the new plan.

Mascio contends that all decisions on the fees in the new plan would be solely reliant upon the approval of the board.

Mucci contended the city of Steubenville would have the power to veto the fees in the new plan as well.

Mascio was given the directive to study the matter, while Meyer added the new plan would have an option built in that if a line item for fees were vetoed that those funds be added to the tax line item so no revenue would be lost.

Meyer also announced one grant request by the Green Team was denied but a second grant submitted by Tammy Shepherd, Belmont County Recycling Program director, was approved. Shepherd said the grant was for $5,640 and covered a year-long period beginning July 1 targeting illegal dump sites.

“They expect with the decline in collections for electronics, mattresses and tires there will be an increase in illegal dumping,” Shepherd told the board. “We will target three sites chosen by litter control officers in each county for cleanup.”

Following the cleanup the sites will be patrolled by deputies and monitored by trail cameras,” Shepherd explained. “This is connected with a study of the effectiveness of the cleanup, the litter officers feel that if the site is clean we can better determine new violations and find who is doing the dumping.”

The study will concentrate on determining if the cleanup is a deterrent to future dumping at the sites.

Dave Hays announced in the financial officer’s report that the net operating loss for April was $61,517.41. Hays attributed the deficit to several large annual expenditures for hospitalization, workers’ compensation, insurance and the last payment to the Belmont County Litter Enforcement Officer and a significant decrease in tonnage at the landfill. Meyer noted the landfill lost Chesapeake as a client for drill cuttings.

The board also accepted a letter of resignation from longtime board representative John Abdalla. McVey moved to recognize Abdalla for his long term of service to the board.

A designation for the vacant position will be determined by the personnel committee, while, by board policy, Steubenville City Manager Tim Boland will replace Mucci. The mayor will remain as the designee for the city but cannot vote when attending as an alternate.

The next meeting of the board will be held June 9 in Steubenville.