Marietta council gets good news on safety funding

Safety funding found for improvements; paving projects reviewed

Marietta City Council received positive news concerning safety funding Wednesday.

“Regarding the intersection at County House Lane and (Ohio) 7 there were issues identified in the timing study we did for the (Ohio) 7 corridor that never went anywhere,” explained City Engineer Joe Tucker. “They had identified pedestrian problems and signal optimization needs for that intersection to make it a bit safer.”

But after the study, performed in 2017, was complete and presented in February 2018, that priority stalled for remediation, he said.

“So instead we applied directly to the (Ohio Department of Transportation) safety fund and I’m excited to share we were 100 percent funded for the improvements,” said Tucker.

The improvements will include additional lighting and integrating a pedestrian crossing lead time at the intersection and will cost an estimated $69,408.

“We should see the improvement this year,” concluded Tucker.

Council’s Streets Committee also reviewed this year’s paving project plans with a $400,000 loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission covering 72.3 percent of the project cost.

Tucker explained that $20,659 of the new supplemental income tax passed in November and now in effect this year will provide 3.73 percent of the project’s funding. He told council the remaining income tax revenue allotted for paving, an estimated $296,241, will be discussed with project proposals Monday at council’s joint committees meeting for Finance, Water and Sewer at 4 p.m.

In council’s Employee Relations Committee, members also discussed the cost of living increases planned for the next four-year terms for mayor, law director and auditor and the next two-year term for council.

All 11 salaries are primarily funded through the city’s general fund.

But Councilman Steve Thomas cautioned fellow members away from allotting salary increases arbitrarily to the next council because of the possibility of negative perceptions.

Though Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp clarified that no new income tax revenues may be spent on salaries of any kind, he agreed that the perception should be taken into account as council determined salary increases for the 11 positions.

“Plus public service, it’s not really about the money anyways,” added Thomas.

Council members present agreed to keep the current terminology on city books which sets council’s pay at the minimum to remain in good standing with state retirement requirements.

Currently that puts each council persons’ salary this year at $7,920, the same as 2018, but up from the two previous years; 2017 was $7,370 and 2016 was $7,304.

For the position of city auditor, Employee Relations Chair Cassidi Shoaf looked to approach parity with the average income of city auditors across the state.

“A rough average for 2017 has auditors making $56,600,” she explained, noting a disparity with the current salary of $50,455.

Members present Wednesday concluded that an increase each year beginning in 2020 of $1,500 per year would begin to catch that position up to the 2017 average, bringing the auditor to a salary of $56,655 in 2023.

They also supported a raise each year of $1,000 between 2020 and 2023 for the next terms of mayor and law director.

But in order to be in effect for the next two- and four-year terms, any changes council makes to the next terms’ salaries must be complete before Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.

“That’s the filing deadline for all 11 positions,” explained City Law Director Paul Bertram.

Therefore, council will introduce the legislation next week at its regular meeting with an emergency clause allowing the law to take effect immediately after its passage and approval by the mayor.

Shoaf also said she anticipates at least one special meeting to consider the legislation and vote prior to the February deadline.

Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber, who runs the budgets each year for the city, said the increases discussed were palatable to expected revenues.