STEUBENVILLE - City officials agreed Tuesday night to change the city logo after a Madison, Wis., organization threatened legal action.
Law Director S. Gary Repella announced the decision following a 15-minute closed-door meeting with City Council members.
"We will be approaching Mark Nelson of Nelson Fine Art and Gifts and asking him to redesign the city logo to remove the cross and silhouette of the Christ the King Chapel on the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.," said Repella.
"We were contacted in May by the Freedom from Religion Foundation Inc. in Madison, Wis., who said one of our citizens had complained about the city logo. During the past several months the foundation sent me their research and past case law regarding religious symbols. I researched current case law and found a lot of case laws that do not allow religious symbols in government symbols," continued Repella.
We have discussed the issue with City Council and we will ask Mark Nelson to design a silhouette of another building such as the library or a dormitory for the city logo. The council realizes the potential cost to our city taxpayers may be very expensive to try to win the case," added Repella.
In other business Tuesday night, 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich introduced the only new legislation during a brief council sunshine meeting.
Lalich proposed the 2013 tax budget for consideration at next week's regular meeting after expressing concerns about the city's future finances.
"The water department is going to bite us soon. And when it happens it will fill this room 28 times over. We also have to do something to get revenue for the police department," warned Lalich.
And 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf said he is worried about the future loss of Local Government Funds from the state.
"I am very concerned about our finances in 2014, 2015 and 2016. We need a plan of action now in order to move forward. If the Local Government Fund cuts come to fruition we may lose manpower in the future," said Metcalf.
"We should be concerned about our financial projections and how we deal with a potential deficit in the future. I think we are on the right track but we also need to focus on the future. We have a real estate levy renewal coming up later this year and it is up to all of us to educate and do an outreach to our community," said Mayor Domenick Mucci.
City Manager Cathy Davison said the administration is preparing to ask the city health care committee to look at the cost of health care premiums and the prescription drug plan for potential savings.
"We are also looking at an energy audit for our city properties. The finance office is looking at different companies who conduct energy audits. We are also looking at alternative energy suppliers because of deregulation. We are continuing to work with our three city employee unions as well as our department heads in order to maintain and increase efficiencies in our operations," stated Davison.
"At this point we anticipate finishing 2012 with a small surplus. But we are planning for a worse case scenario and are being very conservative with our proposed revenue and tax budgets," she said.
Davison told council members she will meet next week with a representative from the Neptune Technology Group to discuss details of a new water meter system that allows the water usage to be read from the City Hall utility office instead of by meter readers.
Lalich requested a council finance committee meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday prior to the regular meeting.
"We will need that meeting to be in executive session because we will be meeting with the state auditors for their report. The state has not yet released the final audit report, so the meeting must be held in private," said Lalich.