STEUBENVILLE - City Council formally abolished the inactive city port authority Tuesday night by a 5-1 vote and approved plans to join with the Jefferson County commissioners to create a countywide port authority.
Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins opposed the ordinance repealing the city port authority and later said he had wished more efforts had been made to make the city economic development agency a viable port authority.
Perkins joined his colleagues minutes later in unanimous support of the new county port authority.
Progress Alliance Executive Director Ed Looman said passage of the legislation "is the first step in the right direction. The county port authority will give Progress Alliance another tool in its belt."
"Six to seven years down the road this new port authority will be the engine that drives economic development in our area. It is a very challenging effort to promote our community and compete against Weirton and Wheeling in West Virginia as well as communities across the United States. I applaud you for joining with the county. All interests will be served by tonight's action," stated Ed Florak of the Community Improvement Corp.
"This is the second step forward. The first step was the agreement to treat sewage from Pottery Addition. This shows cooperation between the city and the county is finally starting. I believe the next step will be regional water service," said 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich.
The Jefferson County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution creating a county port authority at their Thursday meeting.
In other business during the regular meeting, three council members blocked emergency legislation to place a 5-mill real estate levy renewal on the November ballot.
The ordinance will now be heard at three separate readings.
Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul said he did not believe it was proper to hear the ordinance as an emergency.
"I think we should think it over and hear from our residents. We have until August to have this placed on the ballot," said Paul, who was joined in his opposition by Councilman at Large Kenny Davis and Perkins.
An emergency ordinance authorizing the city manager to hire the W.E. Stilson Consulting Group for professional engineering services for the 2013 Brady Avenue and University Boulevard resurfacing project was approved by council.
And council approved a resolution accepting and reserving the transfer of a C class liquor permit for the Hartley Co. into the city for an economic development project.
The Hartley Co. of Cambridge has indicated an interest in obtaining a liquor permit to sell alcoholic beverages at the BP station on South Third Street.
Prior to the regular council meeting the finance committee met to hear a proposal to apply for a $3.4 million loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority for the wastewater treatment plant upgrades project slated for this year.
"I am asking for the appropriate legislation to be sunshined next week and approved as an emergency the following week. That would allow us to apply for the loan in late May and award the bid in early June," said City Engineer Michael Dolak.
Dolak said a University Boulevard sewer line project, also scheduled for this year, will cost approximately $1.2 million, "and we may apply for a loan through the OWDA for that work as well."
According to Finance Director Alyssa Kerker, "having this loan puts us in better financial shape with our cash reserves. We will be in a better position in case of an emergency."
"It seems like we are borrowing a lot. I understand what Mike and Alyssa are saying. It just concerns me that we are borrowing this much money," said Perkins.
"We are creating these loan notes but we don't want to raise rates to pay the loans back," warned Lalich.
"I would like to see a listing of what loans we already have and when they are due. We should be able to show how leveraged the city is at this point and how much income we can anticipate coming in," said 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf.
Dolak also explained how the city is planning to proceed to repair a 55-by-35-inch brick sewer line beneath the Ohio side entrance to the Market Street bridge.
"We are preparing to award a $66,380 emergency repair contract to National Gunite of Johnstown, Pa., to repair 220 feet of the brick sewer. We need to repair this as soon as possible," explained Dolak.
In other business:
1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto reported 2,026 tires were retrieved during a two-day tire collection campaign last week.
"The JB Green Team also collected 5,115 pounds of electronic items during the two-day collection. I see this town starting to take pride again. And it is now time for everyone to get involved. Let's all get together and get to work," stated DiLoreto.
Council approved a recommendation by City Manager Cathy Davison to award the paving contract for the Lovers Lane Connector to Shelly & Sands Paving of Rayland for $969,896.45.
Patrick McLaughlin of Vapor Jet forwarded an undisclosed amount of cash to city officials from his scrap metal collection during Saturday's Community Cleanup Campaign.
"And the owners of Vapor Jet have agreed to adopt a lot next to our building and we will cut the grass and maintain that property," announced McLaughlin.
Keith Michael Estrada, a Franciscan University of Steubenville student, received a standing ovation from audience members at the meeting when he urged city officials to "publicly reject the destruction of our world and fight to help the rest of Ohio obtain and keep pure air and water, health and safety and all conditions conducive to human growth."
"I ask you to consider the repercussions of our participation as a city in the destruction of people's properties and well being. We tout the protection and flourishing of our city all the while we are destroying the lives of our neighbors and their lands," said Estrada.
Joseph Smarrella of Steubenville invited council members and city officials to attend a plaque dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. on May 30 in front of the main branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County on South Fourth Street.
"This ceremony will remember the 19 men who had worked at Wheeling Steel and had paid the supreme sacrifice during World War II," said Smarrella.
Civil Service Commission Chairperson Delores Wiggins reminded council an entrance examination for the police officer position will be given on May 19.
"The deadline for applying to take the written test is May 10. And it is important to note there are several aspects to the entrance examination in addition to the written test. All candidates must also pass a physical, a physical agility test, a psychological exam and a polygraph test," Wiggins said.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)