Council moves ahead on armory contract

Marietta City Council met Thursday for its first regularly scheduled session of the new year. Council ushered in the new year with the passage of several ordinances and by recognizing the service of three recently retired city employees.

Council voted to move forward on the National Guard Armory contract, authorizing an ordinance that allows the city to contract with the E. Lee Construction Company, based out of Delphos, Ohio. The $651,250 contact places E. Lee Construction in charge of the second phase of Armory project, which includes structural and roof repairs.

However, Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, expressed concern that the company could be ill equipped to deal with the removal of lead paint from the building.

“Being in construction for 35 years, I do not see how they can do this. There are going to be change orders after they get this job,” he said.

The fact that E. Lee Construction’s bid was substantially lower than the other two companies by 26 and 27 percent respectively, was also cause for suspicion.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, pointed out that E. Lee Construction was the only of the three bidding companies to actually walk through the building.

Added Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, “It sounds to me that the contractor is well aware of the lead issues. I don’t see how they can come back with a change order when it comes to lead abatement.”

Abicht was the only to vote against the authorization of the contract.

“I have a real problem thinking this is the responsible bid,” he said, adding that he was supportive of the Armory project, but simply not the particular contract at hand.

Council also passed an ordinance specifically stating that money loaned from the city’s Capital Improvements Fund for the Armory contract is to be paid back using grants that have already been approved, but not yet received by the city.

Council unanimously approved the addition of a new laborer in the Water Treatment and Distribution Department and unanimously expanded the department’s clerk position from part to full time employment. The addition and expansion will hopefully help the city expedite their goal of replacing the city’s water lines, said Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward.

“Hopefully this will allow (Water Superintendent Jeff Kephart) a bit more time to set up a plan for the water lines. A mile a year would take us 87 years,” said Kalter.

Council approved a two percent across the board pay increase for all non-union and non-elected city employees.

The pay increase is designed to help non-union employees keep parity with the union employees, who had negotiated a pay increase for the 2013 year, said Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large. The pay increase will be effective retroactively to Jan. 1, he added.

Council also approved a pay scale for the individual who will fill the role of city treasurer beginning in 2014. Whomever is elected to the position will start at a salary of $35,140, which will increase incrementally until 2017.

Current treasurer Valerie Holley has said she won’t run for re-election, said Vukovic.

The Council also voted to approve the continuation of the lease of the Lockmaster’s House to the Marietta Rowing & Cycling Club.

“These folks have done a lot of good work there. They have done a tremendous amount of hard and nasty work in that building,” said Harley Noland, D-at large.

The new 10-year lease, effective May 2014, will give the group more time to tackle the renovations inside the building, which is situated along the multi-purpose path that runs between the Muskingum River and Front St., said Mullen.

“Eventually people who are using the path will have a place to stop and get some facilities,” added Vukovic.

Finally the council passed three resolutions, expressing gratitude for the service of three recently retired city employees.

Jim Rogers retired after over 32 years of service to the city, most recently as the city’s Backflow Inspection and Maintenance Specialist; Lynn Vermaaten retired after 21 years of service, as the Secretary in the Mayor’s Office; and Marvin Mosser retired after nearly 31 years of service, most recently as a Maintenance and General Utility Mechanic.

“We’ve lost a lot of experience. It’s getting harder and harder to find people who are that knowledgeable anymore, said Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward.

Council tabled the approval of a proposed evaluation matrix that would be used to find the “lowest and best” bid for any city projects involving the expenditure of more than $50,000 of taxpayer funds.

On Tuesday, the Special Utilities Committee will meet at 3 p.m. to discuss the city’s trash contract and the Planning, Zoning, and Annexation Committee will meet at 4 p.m. to discuss the proposed evaluation matrix and the city’s outdated International Property Management Code.