Grants discussed by Steubenville City Council

STEUBENVILLE — Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna is hoping to get grant money to help transition the old municipal building into a market house.

Villamagna said he’d like to apply for a grant from Historic Fort Steuben, which in the past has used some of its hotel-motel tax money to fund grants to the Grand Theater and the mural project.

Fourth Ward Councilman Scott Dressel suggested he consider applying to the J.C. Williams and Pugliese foundations.

“It would probably be a project they’d be very interested in,” Dressel said.

Villamagna said they’re still waiting for an asbestos report on the building. Once that’s out of the way they can have an architect draw up a plan.

For now, he said they need to look at all possible funding sources “so we can get as much money as we can to make this a reality.”

“It will be the best thing we can do for economic development in the downtown area,” he said.

Finance Director Dave Lewis told council delinquencies were down considerably during the first three months of the year.

Since delinquent accounts are being served shut- off notices much earlier, Lewis said the percentage of accounts unpaid for 60 days or more is 1.5 to 1 percent — a far cry from the 8 percent to 10 percent it had been before they assigned a staff person to do in-house collections.

Third Ward Councilman Eric Timmons also applauded the more than $93,000 collected on overdue accounts since the in-house collections system began, saying, “that is a lot.”

“I remember we were all discussing that, if it would be worth it,” he said. “It really is.”

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said they’ve “done a remarkable job, it shows here in black and white.”

“Council is behind it, I think the citizens understand” why it had to be done, he added.

Before the change, accounts could be in arrears for much longer before service was shut off. Shortening the process has been “better for residents, too,” Dressel said, “because the amounts they owe are so much smaller.”

In other business:

≤ Council was reminded by Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn that the Parks and Recreation Department’s Earth Day observance, the Beatty Park cleanup, will be Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

≤ Hahn also encouraged residents to take advantage of the park department’s “Meet Me at the Marina to Fish” event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4. The event, the first of the season at the marina, is free and includes a lunch and prizes. There also will be T-shirts for the first 50 children. Participants can bring their own equipment or use the department’s.

Hahn called it a “wonderful opportunity,” pointing out May 4 is the only day when residents can legally fish without a license.

≤ Third and final readings of ordinances for the demolition of a property at 115 Welday Ave. and accepting a utility easement and right-of-way with Joseph T. and Tiffany Luckino for the Efts Lane drainage project were approved.

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